This is the first in a series of articles featuring friars celebrating jubilees in 2012.
RINGWOOD, N.J. — Three-quarters of a century ago, Martin Hanhauser, OFM, joined the Order of Friars Minor with Holy Name Province. He professed his first vows as a Franciscan in August of 1937 in Paterson, N.J., and celebrated his final profession in 1940 at Holy Name College in Washington, D.C.
Today, Martin, who celebrated his 96th birthday in November, lives at Holy Name Friary, the Province’s skilled nursing center. He attributes his longevity to his love of bicycling, and was often known to ride almost 2,500 miles a year in his younger days. Many of his bike trips were made along the Charles River in Boston, when he served at St. Anthony Shrine. He enjoyed the sport until he was almost 90.
In his 75 years as a friar, Martin had earned degrees — both a master’s and a doctorate — in math-physics, and studied at the Ivy League Columbia University, St. Louis University and the University of Paris. But perhaps his most significant accomplishment was the more than three decades he spent teaching math and heading the math department at Siena College in Upstate New York.
Contributions to Students
From 1945 to 1982, Martin worked at Siena as a math instructor, professor and department head, taking a sabbatical to pursue both degrees of his own. He also chaired the science division from 1963 to 1966. During his years at the college, he oversaw the building of the Roger Bacon Science Center.
Martin was well liked as a math teacher, and is known for recognizing the potential of his students and encouraging them to stretch their knowledge. A professor from Syracuse University in Upstate New York wrote a letter for Martin’s retirement in 1982, thanking him for well preparing Siena graduates who went on to study for their master’s degrees at Syracuse.
Erik Hemmingsen, former chairman of the Syracuse University Department of Mathematics, wrote: “After several of your boys showed up with a combination of qualities, we come to recognize the mark of your teaching.”
Martin earned a bachelor’s degree from St. Bonaventure University in Allegany, N.Y., in 1944, after also attending Gannon Cathedral College in Erie, Pa., and the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
He grew up in Erie, the son of Dr. Frederick and Mary Agnes. Martin’s baptismal name is Urban Barrett, and his family called him “Urbie.”
Ministry at St. Anthony Shrine
When he retired from Siena College in 1982, Martin spent the fall studying at an institute in Santa Barbara, Calif. From there, he was assigned to the St. Mary’s Chapel in Providence, R.I. Other assignments included directing the Anthony House in Jersey City. He spent the years 1986 to 1990 at St. Anthony Shrine.
From there, he was considered semi-retired at St. Anthony Friary in Butler, N.J., and fully retired in 1994 to St. Anthony Friary in St. Petersburg, Fla. In 2006, he moved to Holy Name Friary in northern N.J.
Martin liked to write letters, and often corresponded with Provincial Ministers. In a letter dated 2004, when he was 89, he wrote about his recent bike injuries. “My four bike accidents left me with injuries (both hips and right knee and right shoulder). Together with those traumas, arthritis has little by little rendered my legs useless.” He signed the letter, “fraternal best wishes from your real old friar.”
Whether Martin was teaching students, riding his bike, or pursuing his own love of learning, he has enjoyed being a friar and the fraternity he has had with his brothers.
He will also celebrate 70 years of being a priest this year; Martin was ordained at the National Shrine in Washington, D.C.
— Wendy Healy, a freelance writer in Connecticut, is a frequent contributor to HNP Today.