Please remember in your prayers Father Stan Martinka, 82, who died March 12 from complications associated with leukemia.
Martinka, originally from New Ulm, graduated from St. Thomas in 1950 with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and biology, and again in 1953 with a master’s in education. His senior-year discus throw of 154 feet stood for 27 years and earned him a spot in St. Thomas’ Athletic Hall of Fame.
He studied at the St. Paul Seminary and shortly after his 1961 ordination he started a mission in Guatemala.
Martinka went on to serve for 11 years as an Army chaplain in Germany, Vietnam, Korea and the United States. When he left the military service, he founded and directed the San Alfonso Mission in Juarez, Mexico, where for three decades he served those in extreme poverty. A day for Martinka might include celebrating Mass but also finding tires for someone’s truck, repairing a machine at a co-op cement-block factory, or driving through the outskirts of Juarez to deliver water-storage barrels.
The St. Thomas Alumni Association presented its Humanitarian Award to Martinka at the 1993 St. Thomas Day celebration. “I don’t think you should give a guy with this white collar an award like that,” Martinka said in his acceptance remarks. “Because that’s what I do for a living.
“No, I shouldn’t get any humanitarian award. I’ve got nuns and brothers and priests down there in Juarez, Mexico, working like dogs for practically nothing and receiving no credit for it … . I really think I owe these people the credit.”
A memorial Mass will be celebrated for Martinka at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 16, in St. Mark’s Church, Shakopee.
A Star Tribune obituary can be found here.