May 5, 2006

Franciscan Father Martin Wolter
founded Tobit

By Mary Ann Wyand

Franciscan Father Martin Wolter, who founded the Tobit marriage preparation program in 1974 while ministering at the former Alverna Retreat Center in Indianapolis, died of congestive heart failure on April 23 at Lansdowne Health Care Center in St. Louis. He was 88.

The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on April 26 at St. Anthony of Padua Church in St. Louis. Burial followed at the friars’ plot at SS. Peter and Paul Cemetery in St. Louis.

Born on May 17, 1917, Father Martin was a member of the Franciscan’s Sacred Heart Province in St. Louis.

He served as a spiritual director for Catholic musician John Michael Talbot and chaplain for the Brothers and Sisters of Charity at the Little Portion Hermitage in Berryville, Ark.

Talbot said in a statement on his Web site that he will miss his “longtime friend and spiritual father … more than words can express. … As my spiritual father, he was the ‘grandfather’ of the Brothers and Sisters of Charity. Without him, our community very well might not exist. We all owe him dearly.”

The internationally known musician said his “heart and mind are filled with memories and experiences of [Father Martin] patiently teaching me about Jesus, the Church and St. Francis. He was patient, generous and kind.”

A friar for 68 years and priest for 59 years, Father Martin served as a formation director at the former Franciscan novitiate in Franklin in addition to his ministry at the former Alverna Retreat Center in Indianapolis and Good Counsel Retreat Center in Waverly, Neb.

He also served in pastoral ministry in Quincy, Ill., and Columbus, Neb., and helped the Secular Franciscans as a provincial spiritual assistant.

In 2003, he retired to St. Anthony of Padua Friary in St. Louis.

Survivors include a brother, Franciscan Father Allan Wolter of Sherman, Ill. †

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