Father Martin Lawrence is the pastor of St. Dominic Parish in Canton and St. Magdalen Parish in Lennox as well as the director of the Office of Liturgy and Worship for the diocese. He was ordained to the priesthood June 13, 2003.
This month, he is the lucky first subject of our new page focusing on religious vocations in our diocese.
Q. Tell us a bit about your family and where you grew up.
A. I grew up in the city of New Orleans, and I am the third of three boys. My parents, Joseph and Helen, are both deceased as well as my oldest brother, Anthony. I am the product of Catholic education, and firmly believe in Catholic schools. I met then-Bishop Robert J. Carlson in 1999 and he recruited me for the Diocese of Sioux Falls. The rest is history.
Q. How did you get your call to the priesthood?
A. I would have to say my call to the priesthood came about through my family, especially my devout grandparents and older relatives. They encouraged my education in the faith and taught me to love Catholicism and Catholic culture. Also, my family was great friends with some of the older Redemptorist Fathers in my hometown. These holy men were also a great inspiration to me.
Q. Is there a particular part of Catholicism that really fascinates you? (liturgy, history, spirituality, etc.)
A. The Sacred Liturgy and Church history.
Q. Who was most influential in your life?
A. My mentor growing up, Father Reinhard Stump, a Redemptorist priest now deceased. He taught me much about the Church and the spiritual life.
Q. What’s your favorite part of being a priest?
A. Celebrating Holy Mass and bringing the Sacraments to the sick.
Q. What’s the most challenging thing?
A. Preaching and preparing for the Sunday homily.
Q. What did you do before the priesthood? (other jobs, college major, etc.)
A. I studied music and history at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and taught history before I entered seminary. I earned a Masters in Church History from Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland.
Q. Who is your go-to saint? Why?
A. St. Joseph. I have loved him since childhood, and Joseph is my confirmation name. I was also ordained a deacon and priest in St. Joseph Cathedral.
Q. What do you do in your spare time?
A. I enjoy reading and listening to music.
Q. What is something most people don’t know about you?
A. My mother and father were both half Sicilian. Even though I am from Louisiana and love the cuisine, I don’t have a drop of Cajun blood in my veins!
Q. If you could have supper with anyone from history (besides Jesus), who would it be and why?
A. St. Philip Neri (1515-1595). I have read everything written about him that I can get my hands on, and I feel like I’ve already met him. I want to possess his joyful love of God and others.
Q. How can your parishioners best help you become a better priest?
A. Pray for me!