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Since 1732, the Redemptorists — a congregation of missionary priests and brothers — have followed in Jesus’ footsteps, preaching the Word and serving the poor and most abandoned.
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Features
Thursday

Spotlight on Brother Martin

Our friends and benefactors who support our elderly and infirm Redemptorist Brothers and Priests are such a blessing to us, especially around the holidays. Your words of encouragement and your prayers are a reminder of our many gifts in this life.

One of those infirm Redemptorists, Brother Martin de Porres, has spent his life bringing laughter and a smile into the lives of those around him. His own smile lights up the room, despite his physical limitations.
 
We shared a little of Brother Martin’s story in a recent letter to our donors. Here’s a bit more of his story.
 
About Brother Martin
Brother Martin de Porres, 72, was born in Richmond, VA, and professed vows with the Redemptorists August 2, 1959. He made his final profession as a lay brother in 1963. He worked as a cook in several Redemptorist communities, including St. Alphonsus College in Suffield, CT, and the novitiate in Ilchester, MD. Other assignments included Redemptorist parishes in Buffalo and the Bronx, NY; Baltimore, MD; and several communities in Florida and Virginia.
 
Later in life, Brother Martin returned to school and earned a master’s degree in social work, a rarity for a lay brother. He also worked for several years in the early 1990s as campus minster at Morgan State College (now University) in Baltimore. In 2000, he was recognized with the Brother Joseph Davis Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Black Conference in Hampton, VA, the group’s highest honor.
 
 
Brother David Skarda, C.Ss.R.:
“We cooked together at St. Alphonsus Seminary in Suffield, CT, for about three years. Those were 12-hour days, so we didn’t do much else. But the carrying-on in that kitchen is legendary. Brother Martin and (the now deceased) Brother Liguori were quite the pair. Brother Liguori would help us clean and chop all the vegetables we’d need for the day.
 
“Brother Martin would have that radio turned up — one of his favorite songs was Ike and Tina’s “Rolling on the River” — and he’d have that song blaring and there he was dancing around behind that stove with a wire whisk in his hand. The kitchen at Suffield was the gathering place because of Martin. When they were on a break from class, the students would come down for a cup of coffee and talk to Martin.
 
“The meat salesman would make us his last appointment of the day. He’d come and sit in that kitchen for an hour with a cup of coffee and listen to all the carrying-on between Martin and Brother Liguori. And then he’d go home and tell his wife all about it! Everybody was that way with Martin.
 
“Even with all his physical problems, his personality has never changed. He’s always been fun to be with. We celebrated my 25th anniversary of profession by driving to Alaska — it took us two weeks to drive there from upstate New York. We spent three weeks there and then drove home.
 
“We’ve only had maybe one or two black brothers over our entire history as a province. Martin’s gone through a lot in life — entering a religious order as a black man was not an easy thing; being a brother was not an easy thing. But he’s just never let any of it get him down.”
 
 
 
Fr. Joseph Krastel, C.Ss.R.:
“Martin joined us at novitiate; the rest of us had graduated from (St. Mary’s High School Seminary) North East. But he really livened up the novitiate. He organized all sorts of skit nights and song-and-dance activities. The novitiate can be a grim year unless you have someone to make you laugh. And the 20-some of us had that in Martin. He could do all kinds of imitations of great Gospel preachers.
 
“He’s really a leader in our province in developing a ministry for the brothers, in advocating that the brothers could do more than just the cleaning, cooking and maintenance work.”