Donations and Prayers Key to Three Decades of Support

Posted: 5/3/2013

Madge Marten and her granddaughter KatieMadge Marten first became aware of Glenmary Home Missioners in 1939, when she was an eighth-grader at St. Joseph School in Wilmette, Ill. Her teacher, Sister Camillus, placed a large copy of Glenmary's "No Priest Land, USA" map on the classroom easel and talked about it with the students. That experience made an impression on Madge.

"Our teachers had told us about the foreign missions," she says, "but we never dreamed that Catholic missionaries were needed in our own country. The map showed all the counties where there were no priests or Catholic churches."

Forty years later in 1979, Madge and her husband Harry, parents of four, became Glenmary supporters. Now a widow, Madge, 85, still carries on that support.

In the 1970s, their son Joe was discerning priesthood with a religious order and Madge mentioned Glenmary to him.

"After looking into their ministry, he volunteered for a couple of years in Glenmary mission areas," Madge says. "He loved working with the Glenmary priests and brothers and helping people in need with his carpentry and other skills. It was a wonderful experience for him, and he became convinced of the importance of their ministry." In 1979, he entered Glenmary.

"By the time Joe committed himself to Glenmary," says Madge, "Harry and I felt we had learned a lot about Glenmary ourselves. And we decided to make a commitment to their mission, also, by helping them with donations and prayers."

Joe completed his novitiate and professed his First Oath before realizing priesthood was not his calling. But he has never stopped believing in Glenmary's work, she says. He is now a husband and father of four. Glenmary Father Vic Subb, one of Joe's former classmates, presided at his marriage.

Joe's decision didn't change his parents' strong belief in Glenmary's ministry, either. They continued making monthly gifts through their membership in the Boost-A-Month Club. "We always thought Glenmary's mission was something quite wonderful," Madge says.

Harry and Madge grew up in devout Catholic families in the Chicago area. They each developed a strong faith, she says, and learned from their parents and teachers about the importance of giving back in gratitude for what they had been given.

After they married in 1954, as they raised their family, and later, they continued to serve others. She and Harry both taught religious education for about 11 years. They also served for many years as eucharistic ministers (at Mass and for the homebound) and lectors.

In 1969 the family moved to Florida, where Harry worked as a sales manager. And Madge, after being a stay-at-home mom, worked in advertising for two decades before becoming a tax preparer—a job she's had for the last 25 years.

The couple decided in 2000 to establish a joint annuity with Glenmary. "It was another way to support Glenmary and to establish an extra source of income for ourselves," says Madge. Sadly, Harry passed away before the paperwork was completed. Madge then had the joint annuity converted to a single annuity.

Now the grandmother of 11 and great-grandmother of two, she remains very active.

"My husband called my tax work my ministry!" she says, laughing. "I do get paid, but it is a ministry because my clients become friends that I care about. I try to guide them through difficulties and help them handle their financial matters as well as possible."

She keeps in regular contact with Glenmary—for example, she attended a donor gathering in Florida in recent years and took along two interested friends.

"Besides the archbishop's charity drive and our own parish," she says, "Harry and I chose Glenmary as the other primary charity we'd support. I feel very good about that choice."

This story first appeared in the Summer 2013 Planning Ahead newsletter.