Final Farewell to Bishop O.P. Martin
Beloved Bishop Emeritus OP Martin was laid to rest at Belmopan’s Our Lady of Guadalupe Co-Cathedral, as was his wish. The Bishop had been ailing for some time and passed away on February sixteenth in his hometown Dangriga. In life, he touched the lives of persons from all walks of life and at his final farewell on Monday, many paid tribute to the local leader of the Roman Catholic Church, who devoted his life to administering the word of God. Tonight, we bring you more details of the Bishop Emeritus’ official. News Five Isani Cayetano reports from Belmopan.
A fitting send off for the most senior Christian cleric our young nation has witnessed. Appointed by Pope John Paul II in 1982, Osmond Peter Martin rose to prominence as Belize’s first native bishop at a time when political and spiritual leadership were most important to the development of the newly independent country. Bishop Martin, as he became known thereafter, tended his flock with the careful attention of a young shepherd, always making sure that there was unity within his growing congregation.
Gwen Nunez-Gonzalez, Friend of Bishop Martin
“Every year the church used to gather the young people from all over the country and we’d have youth jamboree in different communities and I can recall Bishop Martin being one of those supporters. He supported youth ministry and when we would gather, at times when he was available; he would come and visit with us. But every time he would go to Dangriga I remember he would check on the young people and I was always amazed at his powerful memory.”
And that keen sense of recollection perhaps was honed during his many visits to the far reaches of the country, administering and evangelizing as he went about the business of the Roman Catholic Diocese. The high priest, in a great many ways, is reminiscent of the Father of the Nation. As George Price was with his magnetic personality, so was Bishop Martin. Not only were they devout in their unwavering faith, their leadership traits were very much similar, governance with humility.
“You look at his past life as a priest and you saw leadership, and you saw a man with vision, because he was a visionary person. I can recall Bishop Hodap making a comment about Bishop Martin one time to me, he said, “You know, he got many things done and I don’t know how he got it done.” It’s true. Financially speaking, he knew who to contact and there were people who supported his work. And I think that is what fascinated Bishop Hoddap because, you know, he didn’t have a priest running to him for everything. Here is a man who will seek out people and the people saw what he was doing and supported his work.”
The coming together of all races and ethnicities, members of the clergy, as well as government, to bid him farewell speaks to his achievement as a man of the cloth.
Godwin Hulse, Eulogist
“From the day of his consecration to the day of his retirement, Bishop Martin was clear in his mission, to live the values of his young, Belizean, Christian church. Bishop Martin once said that his mission, his work was, and I quote, to make Christ known to others, to make Christ be loved by others. That, in a nutshell, is what evangelization is all about – knowledge, and after knowledge, love. I think the people who knew Bishop Martin best, his biological family, his fellow priests; members of the clergy, as well as the laity who served with him would agree that he was a spiritual leader who always embodied strength, humility and dignity. He needed to be strong; after all he was leading his church in a new era, not only in Belize but also in the Roman Catholic Church on a whole.”
That divine guidance, a life dedicated to driving his flock, is acknowledged as far away as the Holy See.
“The Holy Father was saddened to learn of the death of Bishop Osmond Peter Martin and he sends heartfelt condolences to the clergy, religious and lay faithful of the diocese. Recalling with gratitude the late bishop’s many years of devout and faithful service to the church in Belize City. His Holiness commends his soul to the mercy of God and prays that his memory will inspire in the faithful an ever more generous witness to the gospel.”
Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.