DOBBS FERRY, N.Y. — Martin Bednar, OFM, 83, a professed Franciscan friar for 61 years and a priest for 56 years, died on April 20 at St. Cabrini Nursing Home here, where he had lived since early last year.
Because of restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic, funeral services will be private and a memorial Mass will be planned for a later date. Representative friars from St. Anthony Friary in Butler, New Jersey, will celebrate the rite of committal with final commendation at Mount Calvary Cemetery on April 22.
Martin was born Dec. 11, 1936 in Barnesboro, Pennsylvania, to Michael and Bridget (née DeConna) Bednar. He attended Spangler, Pennsylvania, Grammar School and then, after moving with his family to Florida, he graduated from Miami Jackson High School in 1954.
He was received into the Franciscan Order on July 14, 1957, and a year later, on July 15, 1958, he professed his first vows at St. Raphael’s Novitiate in Lafayette, New Jersey. He then studied at St. Francis College in Rye Beach, New Hampshire, earning a bachelor of arts degree from St. Bonaventure University, and did theological studies at Holy Name College in Washington, D.C.
On Aug. 22, 1961, Martin professed his final vows before Donald Hoag, OFM, at Christ the King Seminary in Allegany, New York. On Feb. 22, 1964, he was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Egidio Vagnozzi at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in Washington, D.C.
During his religious life, Martin served in three main ministries – as a missionary in South America, doing pastoral work at two parishes in the Northeast, and giving retreats and missions.
Martin’s first assignment after ordination was to Bolivia, where he spent 12 years in various roles, including superior of the mission, and president of the Franciscan Federation of Bolivia in Cochabamba. He returned to the United States in 1977 and was assigned to Washington, D.C. After a year of continuing education, Martin was named assistant pastor of Holy Cross Parish in the Soundview section of the Bronx. In 1984, he became the first Franciscan to serve as pastor of St. Camillus Parish in Silver Spring, Maryland, where he served until 1990. He then returned to Holy Cross for three years. Martin remained in contact with many parishioners, including those he met while leading the parish youth group.
In 1993, Martin joined the Province’s Ministry of the Word and moved to Florida. He lived in various towns – including Belleair Bluffs, Hialeah, Tavernier and St. Petersburg – and gave missions and retreats at parishes throughout the South.
Martin retired in January 2013 and lived at St. Anthony Friary in St Petersburg until 2015, when he was transferred to Holy Name Friary in Ringwood, New Jersey. Martin moved to St. Cabrini in March 2019 after the Province’s skilled nursing home was closed.
Martin is survived by a brother Paul Bednar of Dothan, Alabama, and two sisters — Betty Fehl of Pompano Beach, Florida, and Bobbie Samaniego of San Antonio, Texas.
Memorial donations may be sent to Franciscan Friars – Holy Name Province, 144 West 32nd Street, New York, NY 10001-3202.
— Jocelyn Thomas is the director of communications for Holy Name Province.
- “Martin Bednar Stays Connected After all These Years” —July 11, 2018, HNP Today
- “Ministry of the Word Friars Preach Digitally and on the Road” – Oct. 28, 2009, HNP Today
- “The Coming of the Friars to St. Camillus” – Sept. 30, 2009, HNP Today
- “Parish Youth Group in Bronx Reunites for Cruise” – Aug. 1, 2007, HNP Today