January 18, 2019

Legacy of faith, family and generosity guides recipient of Career Achievement Award

(Editor’s note: On Feb. 7, the archdiocese will present Celebrating Catholic School Values Career Achievement Awards to Pat Musgrave, Virginia Marten and Jerry and Rosie Semler. In this issue, The Criterion features Marten.)

By John Shaughnessy

Virginia MartenThe early morning scene offers an insightful glimpse into just how much their Catholic faith has always meant to Virginia and John Marten.

Every morning, even before their 11 children were allowed to have breakfast, the couple gathered their family together for prayer in front of a statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

“We just thought it was important for us to be together and pray together—that it would sustain us all,” Virginia says. “Faith was a huge part of our family’s life.”

It still is.

The 11 children—who all attended Catholic grade schools, high schools and colleges—are grown now. And their Catholic faith remains a vital part of their lives because of the example of their parents, says Gini Hupfer, the youngest sibling.

“Everyone has continued their faith,” Hupfer says. “Even in college, when a lot of people take a hiatus from their faith, we continued it. Our faith is just a natural routine in our day. We wouldn’t have it any other way.”

While faithfulness has been a hallmark of the family, so has Virginia’s generosity to Catholic education and Catholic institutions.

“She has a charitable foundation, and it’s all about Catholicism,” Hupfer notes.

That generosity has enhanced the efforts of the Catholic faith across Indiana, including many ministries of the archdiocese.

In Indianapolis, Marian University, St. Vincent Health, Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School, Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary and Our Lady of Fatima Retreat House have also benefitted from her foundation, as well as her home parish of St. Luke the Evangelist. The University of Notre Dame and Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad are also on that extensive list.

It’s a legacy of giving that Virginia says she first learned from her mother. It’s also an approach to life that she shared with her husband during their 38 years of marriage before he died in 1985. That’s why she views her Celebrating Catholic School Values Career Achievement Award as an honor for them as a couple.

“The thing that impresses me is that she and her late husband John have been true champions of the Catholic faith and Catholic education,” says Msgr. Joseph Schaedel, the pastor of St. Luke Parish who has known the family for more than 35 years. “She’s been just an absolute stellar Catholic in her devotion, her raising of her children, and her philanthropy.”

Virginia views it all as a return on the gift of faith she’s been given.

“We are Catholic, and we just thought these were the places to give our money and keep everything going for the Catholic faith,” Virginia says.

Now 93, she smiles as she talks about a life that has been built on the foundations of faith and family, a family that now includes 36 grandchildren and 38 great‑grandchildren—“and counting.”

“Faith is the biggest part of my life,” she says. “And just having all the children was a blessing for me. We always did things together as a family. There’s been a lot of joy in my life.”

(Jerry and Rosie Semler will be featured in the Jan. 25 issue of The Criterion. Pat Musgrave was featured in the Jan. 11 issue of The Criterion.)

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