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God finds a way to use all of our gifts, says Fr. David Martin

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After decades of service to the diocese and many ministries, Father David L. Martin is retiring. He reflects on his years of service in an interview with the Catholic Herald.

When Father David L. Martin was studying counseling and applied spirituality in California in the late 1970s, he went on a 30-day Ignatian retreat that turned out to be a “profound and guiding experience” for his years in the priesthood.

The insights helped him “know how God is working in my life, and how my own talents and gifts are given back to the church,” he said. 

Born May 10, 1945, in Pittsfield, Mass., Father Martin had always loved architecture and design, and had once commented to a friend that he’d love to build a church. But he thought, “I’ll never do that.” He was ordained for the Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata (Stigmatines) in 1973, and knew the order wasn’t planning to build any new churches.  

Years later, building churches was exactly how he found himself using his gifts. 

After years of working in parishes and retreat centers with the Stigmatines, including at All Saints Catholic Church in Manassas, previously run by the order, Father Martin was incardinated into the Arlington diocese in 1991. 

A few years later, Bishop John R. Keating sent him to Orange, where he was asked to merge two small parishes. He served at St. John Church from 1995 until the parish joined with St. Mark in Gordonsville in 2002 to form St. Isidore the Farmer Church, where he remained until 2003.

He enjoyed the challenge and loved the beautiful geography of the area. “It reminded me of the towns near where I grew up in the Berkshires” in Western Massachusetts, Father Martin said.

Then Bishop Paul S. Loverde asked him to start another new church, this time in Fredericksburg. He was appointed administrator of St. Jude Mission in 2003 when it was established. He was made pastor when the mission was elevated to a parish in 2007 and remained there until 2011. 

Then he became pastor of St. Luke Church in McLean, where he’s served ever since. 

Being assigned to St. Luke was another case of a desire expressed long ago finally coming to fruition many years later. He’d met a sister who worked at St. Luke School when he was studying philosophy at The Catholic University of America in Washington in 1969 and “thought it sounded like a nice parish to be in,” he said. “Sure enough, here I am.”

Father Martin earned a master’s in divinity at St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, Mass.; he earned master’s degrees in counseling from Santa Clara University and in applied spirituality from the University of San Francisco.

His diocesan assignments also have included St. Mary Church in Fredericksburg (1987-88), St. John the Evangelist in Warrenton, (1988-89), St. Anthony of Padua in Falls Church (1989-93), and Church of the Nativity in Burke (1993-95). 


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020