Obituary to Norbert Martin
A life dedicated to the family, to Schoenstatt, and to the Church
Norbert was called to the Father House on June 18th at the age of 83, crowning a life full of hard work and dedication to his family, to Schoenstatt, in particular to the Family Federation, and to the Church. With his wife Renate they had four sons, and two daughters, who nowadays, participate in the Family Federation in Germany.
He joined Schoenstatt as a member of the Youth and participated in the Boys’ Youth. After their marriage they participated in the Family League and after the Institute of Families they finally joined the Family Federation where they found their true vocation. Norbert was a professor of sociology at the University of Koblenz. The couple had the grace of meeting our Father and Founder several times. At one of these meetings, where Norbert’s work at the University was discussed, our Father asked him to dedicate himself to the study of the family. Since then Norbert has directed his work and research to the field of the sociology of the family, with philosophical and theological approaches. Right at the beginning of the pontificate of St. John Paul II he wrote an article which, by the ways of Providence, ended up on the Pope’s desk. He read it and told the Secretary: We need this man here in the Vatican! From then on, a close relationship was established with the Pope. Norbert and Renate are appointed members of the newly created Pontifical Council for the Family, where they remain for more than 20 years, until the end of Benedict XVI’s pontificate. Norbert also becomes a professor at the Pontifical Institute for Marriage and Family, established by Pope John Paul II to train experts, teachers and doctors in this area. A relationship of friendship and trust between the Holy Father and the couple is established, so that they are even invited to spend the holidays with their children at Castel Gandolfo. The couple has published in German the Catecheses of St. John Paul II on marriage and the family, as well as books on family planning, theology of the body… and has given numerous seminars and courses in these areas at universities and for various groups of the Church in various European countries.
The Martin couple was responsible for the Family Federation in Germany during two successive mandates. They have devoted much time to the formation of the International Federation of Families. They held several preparatory meetings for the first constitutive chapter with the leaders of the other autonomous territories. They knew very well the thinking and teachings of our Founder about Federation and Schoenstatt, and they struggled a lot to have these teachings and principles integrated into the guidelines that were initially approved by the Chapter in 2005 and that should guide the way of Federation throughout the world. At the end of the chapter they were elected as the first couple to lead the International Federation. Regarding the couple’s work, we transcribe the testimony of the International direction, written in the communication of Norbert’s death:
“Norbert Martin built, in the spirit of the Founder, the destiny of the Family Federation both in Germany and internationally. His extraordinary contributions and his life testimony fill us with a deep sense of gratitude”.
Norbert’s leaving for eternity is a feeling of sadness for his physical absence, but above all a feeling of gratitude to the Father in Heaven for the life and witness he has given us, which makes him an example and a sure way for all of us who are called to live great ideals and high goals in our marriage and family vocation. Let us pray asking the Blessed Mother to receive him into heaven and to intercede with our Father and his sons in heavenly Schoenstatt for all families, especially the Schoenstatt families, to continue to be “faithful to the origin”.
Olindo and Marilene Toaldo – Family Federation Course/ Brasil