On Sunday, 25 January, the parishioners of Holy Spirit Church, Dronfield said farewell to Fr Martin with Mass celebrated by Bishop Ralph and Fr Terry Doherty, followed by a buffet and presentation provided by the parishioners.
Ray Morrisroe, as the parishioner who knew Fr Martin longest, from his time as parish priest of Our Lady of Lourdes, Hackenthorpe, paid tribute to Fr Martin. They have a common interest in classical music and have enjoyed many debates about the relative merits of Rachmaninov and Mozart. They also share an enthusiasm for “Dad’s Army”.
Fr Martin’s first career was in music, having graduated from the Royal College of Music. He was an accompanist and later a teacher of music in several schools. During his time at St John Southwood School in Preston he realised he had a calling to the priesthood.
His journey to the priesthood was a long one; first being received into the Catholic Church in his youth, he went to the Beda College, Rome in 1975 and was ordained at St Cuthbert’s, Bradford by Bishop Wheeler of Leeds in 1979. He moved to be assistant to Canon Michael O’ Sullivan at Sacred Heart, Hillsborough and also served at St Paul’s, Grimethorpe. Fr Martin was parish priest at Goldthorpe and Our Lady of Lourdes, Hackenthorpe, followed by Woodlands and finally Dronfield in 2001. Fr Martin was intrigued by the many places he worked in that had names ending in Thorpe. Listening to a Radio 4 programme he discovered it means village, particularly a Norse or Viking settlement.
During his 14 years in Dronfield, Ray Morrisroe has been Fr Martin’s “Right Hand Man”. Many other parishioners have been a great support to Fr Martin, especially in the last two years of ill health.
The parishioners are also grateful to the priests of the Chesterfield Deanery for the fact that they have been able to celebrate Mass every weekend and are delighted to welcome Fr Terry Doherty as resident priest.
As Ray said, we will call on Fr Martin on our days out in the beautiful Derbyshire Dales. Ray concluded his tribute by paraphrasing the Biblical verse, “Well done thou good and faithful servant, relax and enjoy your well earned rest.”
Pictured above left to right with Fr Martin (seated) are Bishop Ralph, Fr Terry Doherty and Ray Morrisroe at the celebration after the farewell Mass.