The Rev. Joseph C. Martin was recalled yesterday during his funeral Mass as a "wounded healer" who offered a "way up and a way out for God's broken people."
An emotional overflow crowd in Baltimore heard the Roman Catholic priest who worked with the addicted eulogized as a good Samaritan who advised others to "go as far as you can and take one step more." The funeral Mass was held at the 'Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.
In a homily, the Rev. David M. Carey recalled Father Martin's powerful preaching that was always infused with humor. He recalled that as a newly ordained priest, Father Martin often spoke at Masses at St. William of York Church on Edmondson Avenue. "The people loved him because of his short homilies. And there was always a joke."
Looking out over the filled church, Father Carey quoted Father Martin as telling him, "All I wanted to do was fix a few drunks." As his work grew, and he had co-founded Father Martin's Ashley, a successful treatment center in Harford County, "He might say, 'Not bad for a little guy from Hampden,' " a reference to Father Martin's birthplace.
As pallbearers brought the casket down the main aisle, mourners reached out from pews to touch its wood. Many wept.
Tom Neff took a train from New York City to pay his respects to the man who helped him conquer alcoholism nearly 25 years ago.
"He could be stern to make a point, but two seconds later he would give you that smile of his," Mr. Neff said. "He could disarm a whole room of con-artist alcoholics."
The Rev. Thomas O. Ulshafer, provincial superior of the Society of Saint Sulpice, described Father Martin's initial role as being a teacher of young seminarians.
"He had the heart of a priest and was a caring and loving shepherd," Father Ulshafer said. "He could entertain and teach at the same time, a rare gift."
Speaking of Father Martin's addiction to alcohol, he said, "He turned a cross into a new life."
Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien ended the funeral by saying, "If Joseph Martin is not in heaven, I don't think any of us has a chance."