Friar Martin Maria de Porres Ward OFM Conv.
This past week, the Ordinary Chapter of the Our Lady of Angles Province of the Conventual Franciscan Friars voted on and approved a motion to support the sainthood cause of Friar Martin Maria de Porres Ward, OFM Conv. In 1955, he became the first African – American to be ordained a Conventual Franciscan Friar in the United States.
He was born in 1918 in Charleston MA, to an interracial family who were Methodist. The family moved to Washington DC where he graduated from Dunbar High School in 1939. While in high school, he became a Catholic. Shortly after graduation, he entered the Salvatorian Fathers. In 1945, he applied to and was accepted by the Conventual Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate Conception Province.
Shortly after his ordination, in 1955, he volunteered for the missions in Brazil. He ministered in the Brazilian Custody in many capacities as a teacher, counselor, chaplain, and in the formation of the young friars. He is most noted as being a very compassionate confessor who was always available for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Many people sort him out to hear their confession. He was able to bring many people back to the church and was able to deepen the faith of others. He was always willing to share his faith with those he met.
Friar Martin died in Brazil in 1999. His final wish was that he be buried among the people he had spent all of his ministry as a Friar Priest. Over the years, his grave has become a place of pilgrimage. There are reported to be two miracles that have been attributed to his intercession.
O Glorious Most High God who deign to glorify
In heaven the souls of those who served and glorified
You on Earth, Her our prayers [petition in silence].
And according to the design of Yor Divine Providence,
Deign to glorify your
Servant Friar Martin Maria,
Who by his love desired to offer his life for the education,
And service of the youth, the poor and the sick,
That like our ‘compadre’ we
Too may progress in the service of the most needy.