Pax Christi finalist Marie Martin was honored at the SDCCW’s annual convention June 18 in Medford. (Catholic Herald photo by Jenny Snarski)

Anita Draper
Catholic Herald staff

Finalists for the Superior Diocesan Council of Catholic Women’s 2019 Pax Christi Award are being featured in a series of Catholic Herald articles. The women were honored at the SDCCW’s annual convention June 18 at Holy Rosary, Medford.

Marie Martin, a member of St. Peter, Winter, has lived a life of service.

A finalist for the SDCCW’s 2019 Pax Christi Award, she’s also rather feisty.

“I’m a fun-loving, sometimes very mischievous little Irish person,” she said.

Martin is sociable. She likes to chat and mingle, which she attributes to her Irish heritage. She believes in talking to people, identifying needs and helping however she can.

“We were brought up to be good mixers,” she said.

Her mother taught her to give a lot of hugs – it’s an easy way to show compassion, and they’re free, she explained. Martin is therefore inclined to hug everyone, a tendency she tries to temper around international priests who aren’t culturally accustomed to hugging.

Born in 1949 about 12 miles away from her current home, Martin met her husband, Jerome “Hearts” Martin, when she was a teenage waitress in town.

Hearts, by the way, got his nickname 80 years ago at his birth. It was February. There was a blizzard, and the midwife delivered him after a game of Hearts.

The name stuck.

“It fits him pretty good,” she said.

The couple celebrated their 52nd anniversary in June.

“I was brought up in the Lutheran church, converted when we got married,” Martin said. Hearts had two sons from a previous marriage, and they have two daughters.

They also have three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Martin’s involvement with her parish started around 1980, when the family moved back to their hometown from the Sayner-Saint Germain area. A music lover, she’s been a cantor for 30-plus years; led Bible studies; served as an instructor and coordinator for the religious education program; decorated the church; remained active with the parish CCW; served as a lector; scheduled volunteers for parish ministries; helped with meals and funeral luncheons; and on and on.

Martin has also been actively involved in her community for many years – serving on the library board, helping with community dinners and volunteering to distribute food to the needy, among other things.

Sewing is one of her passions, and she’s long been in a quilting group that donates quilts to veterans’ homes, nursing homes, shelters and others in need.

Martin said the group started out in the Catholic Church and has grown into an ecumenical, communitywide, area-wide project, “and the ladies have a wonderful time. I can always use more hands.”

Martin has also served others in her jobs. Over the years, she’s worked part-time as a waitress, seasonal cleaning lady at a resort, dishwasher, assistant cook at a Catholic girls’ camp, bookkeeper and motel manager.

“I’ve always been on the service end of things,” she added. “I consider myself a servant to the Lord.”

Caregiving for her late mother, older brother and others has also been a labor of love over the years. Martin has been the power of attorney for health care for four or five people – she’s given them rides to stores and doctors, done light housekeeping and ensured their needs were met.

“That’s quite the challenge,” she said.

Since 1980, she’s also worked as a housekeeper for most of the priests at her parish. St. Peter’s has just bid farewell to Fr. Jerome D’Souza, their last parochial administrator, and they are waiting for their new priest to arrive.

Martin’s active engagement with the parish Council of Catholic Women began in 1980, and she’s enjoyed interacting with other women, learning about their backgrounds and collaborating to “keep the Lord’s work going.”

She was surprised to be nominated for the Pax Christi, and even more so when she learned she was a finalist.
“It was quite an honor for the ladies to write me up,” Martin added. “I didn’t think it would go anywhere. I was shocked.”

As a convert, Martin feels blessed to be able to attend Mass and take the Eucharist frequently, even daily. Lutherans have communion about once a month, she said.

“I’ve been very blessed,” she concluded. “It’s such a joy to serve and be part of the church. There’s a real richness in it.”