George Martin honoured at memorial service

By Stephanie Kelly

Past and present members of the St. Thomas community gathered Friday at the STU chapel for the memorial service of Rev. Msgr. George Martin.

A sense of joy and peacefulness lingered in the fresh spring air as friends, colleagues and past students of Martin joined in celebrating the life of this St. Thomas icon, reflecting on his successful career and remembering his lasting legacy.

The service began with an introduction led by Father John Jennings and featured the STU singers. Former friends and associates shared their fondest memories of Martin and offered a testament of his academic, social and religious life.

Martin was born in Chatham, N.B., in 1924. His association with St. Thomas began in 1936 as a grade 7 student of St. Thomas College and ended in 1990 with his retirement as president of the university.

Larry Batt, Registrar and Dean of Students, spoke of the plaque that signifies the dedication of George Martin Hall.

“It celebrates his distinguished service to St. Thomas College and St. Thomas University spanning seven decades and lists his various roles at the university: student, teacher, registrar, executive vice-president, president, alumnus,” Batt said.

Patricia Ellsworth, a 1969 STU graduate, characterized Martin as a cordial priest and administrator. She praised his unceasing dedication to his religious vocation and his academic community.

“He was St. Thomas,” said Ellsworth, “Father Martin was behind everything and doing everything and that really was his legacy. We knew we were in good hands.”

Sheila Andrew, a former St. Thomas professor, described Martin as an astute faculty member, possessing both charm and wit. She said he was genuinely concerned with the welfare of his students.

“He had a presence with a sense of fun and he was a man who cared quite passionately about everyone here at the university,” she said.

Martin will always be remembered for his contributions to the STU community. Thanks to Martin, the university experienced a period of growth and expansion, with the creation of several new faculties, including the Religious Studies Programme and the Native Studies programme.

Batt encouraged current students and faculty members to serve with the same dedication and enthusiasm.

“Those of us who had the good fortune to work with him for some part of his eight decades are now challenged to continue his humble, generous, and strong spirit in the continued life and growth of this St. Thomas University community,” Batt said.

“As long as I am alive and able to talk about STU and one of its heroes, he will be remembered. God bless him.

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