Sister Marie Martin Smith (nee: Melba May) 92, peacefully passed into the heart of Jesus on Tuesday, September 27, 2022. She was
one of seven children born to the late Edgar and Katherine Grey Smith and the last of her three sisters, Betty, Essie, Leola and her three brothers, Lloyd and Edgar Jr to survive. She was born and raised in Columbia, Missouri. As a young adult, she found employment at St. Mary Hospital in Quincy, Illinois, which was her first contact with religious women and the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor. She was so enamored by the Sisters in the hospital with their dedication to God and suffering humanity which prompted her to convert to Catholicism. Encouraged by the Sisters in Quincy, she eventually entered the Congregation on September 8, 1956.
Sr. Marie Martin proved to be more than a brave soul, as she was the first and only African American to enter the Congregation in the United States. No doubt with the social tides of the decades, she faced the forces of prejudice and discrimination. All the same, Sr. Marie Martin made her lasting mark on the lives and hearts of others.
After her formation, Sr. Marie Martin, shortly worked in Culinary Services before being sent to study radiology and became a radiology technician. She ministered in the radiology field for a number of years in Congregational sponsored hospitals in Dayton and Cincinnati. As a person always open to the new and possible, she spent a year in Senegal and Brazil among her fellow religious Sisters. This cultural exposure made her sensitive to being a welcoming presence to all she met. She devoted some ten years of her life as a home health aide to fulfill her desire to be of direct service to those in need. For several years, she faithfully volunteered her services at the Extravagant Bargains Thrift Store in Hamilton, Ohio under the watchful eye of the late Sr. Pascaline Colling.
In most recent years, Sr. Marie Martin was devoted to prayer and presence, both ministries she lived and valued throughout her long life.
Sr. Marie Martin leaves behind her fellow Sisters, the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor, many nieces and nephews, along with Associates and friends. The Liturgy of Resurrection will be celebrated on Friday, September 30, 2022 at 10:00 am at St. Clare Chapel, 60 Compton Road. The Liturgy will also be livestreamed via Facebook at Franciscan Sisters of the Poor/U.S. Area. Interment will immediately follow the liturgy. In lieu of flowers, kindly direct donations to the United Negro College Fund, 3000 E Main Street, Suite B 256, Columbus, OH. 43209.