|Martin Served 24 Years in Laingsburg, Three in Morrice
August 24 2010
The Rev. Fr. John Martin, who passed away in 1968, spent more than 24 years at the Laingsburg parish before retiring in mid-1966 following a devastating fire that destroyed the parish’s sanctuary.
At the time, the priest said the job of building a new church was one best suited to a younger priest. He was succeeded by Fr. Paul J. Cummings, who received his first pastorate, in August 1966.
Martin began his long tenure at Laingsburg in September 1941, following three years at the Morrice parish. Prior to that, Martin served at St. Philip in Battle Creek, Sacred Heart Parish in Yale and St. Vincent in Detroit.
Martin replaced the Rev. Fr. Martin Walker, who transfered to Paw Paw.
Martin was ordained as a priest in 1918. He died Nov. 11, 1968, shortly before a ceremony to honor him on the 50th anniversary of his ordination. He had suffered a stroke two weeks prior to his death.
The Argus-Press, in a front-page story following his passing, called him one of Shiawassee County’s best-known clergymen.
Martin was born May 8, 1890, in Detroit and he later graduated from University of Detroit High School and the university of the same name, for which he played basketball and football.
He was ordained Nov. 24, 1918, at Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral in Detroit. He said his first Mass days later at St. Vincent Church, to which he was assigned until 1923.
He transfered to Sacred Heart in Yale (1923-32) and then to Battle Creek St. Philip in 1933. In 1938, he moved on to Morrice.
Following his transfer to Laingsburg, Martin coached not only the Laingsburg Public Schools football team, but the Owosso St. Paul team as well, the newspaper reported.
“In addition to helping several men in their studying for the priesthood, Father Martin has aided many young men attend college who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to, many times paying their way out of his own funds, a fact not known to many, but not forgotten by those he helped,” the paper reported.
The paper reported Martin sometimes took in boys from broken homes and “helped them to make something of themselves.”
In March 1966, a fire started late at night in the church’s basement. The church had installed a gas boiler shortly before the disaster, though that could not be blamed with certainty for the blaze.
Martin retired June 15 of that year and moved around the corner from the church to a new home.
The retired priest was known as a fisherman, hunter and canoeist who also taught Red Cross lifesaving. He also reported hobbies such as photography, model trains and carpentry.
At the time of his death, Martin’s surviving family included one sister and several nieces and nephews.
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