We are absolutely delighted to recognize as this year's first honoree for the Tower of Trent Hall of Honor the Very Reverend Martin Stepanich, O.F.M., S.T.D., a true giant of the Church today. Though few, who call themselves 'Catholic' in conciliar circles these days, would bat an eye at the name, there are sadly many within the traditional movement who do not know this sainted sacerdote who has persevered much in the manner of his holy founder Saint Francis of Assisi. It is our privilege and duty to make the accomplishments, nay the mission of Fr. Martin known to a greater audience, not for any kudos he would garner or welcome, but that his treasured words would reach more hearts, minds and souls.
Only in that way will more Catholics realize the Catholic truth which Fr. Martin expounds is diametrically opposed to all that is occurring in the conciliar church today which dares to continue to call itself Catholic. Fr. Martin vehemently disagrees with these conciliarists and has always provided the proof of his convictions. These tenets are long-held ones for he was grounded in the faith, possessing a deep love for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ present Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity in the bread and wine he confects daily into the True Presence at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. His sincere caring for holy Mother Church is another benchmark of his life. He cared so much that he clearly heard the calling and enrolled in the seminary just prior to the Stock Market Crash. He knew poverty and embraced it just as he does today in the true Franciscan spirit that, were it not for a few loyal Friars like Father Martin, would have been totally eradicated today for the Rules and Constitutions of the Modernist Franciscans is night and day from what the holy father Francis drew up through divine inspiration.
Somehow, Father Martin knew there were even rougher times ahead and he dedicated his life to helping others, not just temporally, but spiritually because there was to him nothing more precious or delicate than a soul. Thus,
well over six months before the Japanese would bomb Pearl Harbor, he became a Franciscan priest. Ordained on May 18, 1941 he went on to earn a Doctorate in Sacred Theology in those idyllic pre-Vatican II years where the Church and the rest of the world were being distracted by war, post-war restoration and the thriving baby-boom of the late forties and fifties.
Few could see the dangers on the horizon and a lesser soul without the fervor and religious discipline that Fr. Martin Stepanich, OFM possessed through the grace of God and total submission to Our Lady as her consecrated servant through the teachings of the holy Doctor of the Church Saint Alphonsus Liguori. His life would be greatly altered in the sixties when the Order of Friars Minor began to cave to conciliar novelties. Father knew there could be no such abomination allowed in the Church he was raised in and quite quickly recognized the counterfeiters, already suspicious by who had been given the greatest voice at the Second Vatican Council.
As Dr. Thomas Droleskey affirms in his personal account of this dear Franciscan priest later in this tribute, Fr. Martin was abandoned by his Order, left to fend for his own. Considering the alternatives, he gladly embraced such a cross rather than ever betraying our Lord and our Lady. In exile he established a parish where he drew others to him by his priestly manner without catering to the fads or social engineering of the 70's, 80's, 90's and new millennium.
We have been priveleged to carry several of his articles, most recently, thanks to Dr. Drolesky, his series on the Doctrine of Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus that were first published in The Remnant before Father became persona non grata because of his uncompromising stance against the conciliar popes that they could not possibly be Catholic. Sedevacantism remains a stumbling block for the "Resist-yet-Recognize" group who refuse to connect the dots. Another excellent article by Father was a recent one published at Christorchaos.com which was first published in print in The Four Marks periodical, titled The "UnBaptized Saints" Deception
While we may be stirring a hornets nest by going for the jugular in our efforts to refute Feeneyism, it is really nothing new for Fr. Martin nearly 40 years ago was already defending the Church's Doctrine on the Baptism of Blood and the Baptism of Desire. Oh, and he was taking on the very man himself: Fr. Leonard Feeney, S.J. A Franciscan engaged the Jesuit and, despite the supposed superiority of the Jesuit reputation for intellectual polemics, the man in black underestimated the influence of another Franciscan on Fr. Martin for Father possesses the wisdom of the holy Doctor of the Church Saint Bonaventure. Needless to say Feeney was overmatched. The humble friar Martin won by simplifying what the Church teaches so clearly.
That is a characteristic that defines Fr. Martin. He does not seek to complicate the Faith but rather exemplify our Lord in simplifying the truths of our holy Faith and permitting the little children (the faithful) to be drawn to Christ Jesus especially in the Most Blessed Sacrament through the total self-sacrificing sacerdotal souls on this earth. Now in his eighties Fr. Martin is truly one of God's most loyal, humble and loving creatures which give great hope in the darkness that the Light will shine brighter tomorrow in hearts and souls. Thanks to Fr. Martin's efforts, we have confidence it will happen.
As mentioned earlier, Dr. Thomas Droleskey has graciously agreed to provide his personal insights into why each honoree this year is being enshrined into the Tower of Trent Hall of Honor. Of the five so honored this year, four are Traditional Bishops. Father Martin may not be a prelate, but neither was his founder St. Francis. In actuality, considering his age and time of service to the Church he could be considered the Godfather of Tradition today. We say that with no reference whatsoever to the violent films employing that term. Rather, we say that with the proper reference of the Catholic understanding of a Godparent, responsible before God for the spiritual welfare of a soul. Father, as the elder statesman of the Church, has dedicated his life to preserving and providing for the welfare of Tradition by keeping it pure. And now, pure and simple, Tom shares his admiration for Father.
One of these great giants is Father Martin Stepanich, O.F.M., S.T.D., whose own Order of Friars Minor treated him with the same sort of cruelty and humiliation to which their founder, the matchless Saint Francis of Assisi, was subjected by his own father, Pietro di Bernadone. And although Father Martin (his religious name was taken in honor of the family name of the Little Flower, Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, Saint Therese of Lisieux) once wrote beautiful articles on theological matters and on the lives of the saints for both The Wanderer and The Remnant, he has been "radioactive," a veritable non-person since he became known as a sedevacantist. None of his earlier work matters or can even be acknowledged, which is exactly what the Soviets did to those who dared to oppose the Bolshevik party line.
Father Martin Stepanich has been unafraid to tackle the difficult theological issues of the day, possessing an earned doctorate in Sacred Theology, something that the mean-mouthed, self-proclaimed theological "experts" who have such a wide followings today do not consider at all important to consider or to acknowledge. People who have never studied theologically formally in their lives in a preconciliar Catholic setting are the "experts." Sadder still is the fact that loads of people who have themselves never studied theologically formally a day in their lives believe the self-styled "experts" and self-professed religious "brothers," who consider themselves the grand inquisitors of all other Catholics, rather than even consider for a single moment that it is the true priest and formally trained Catholic scholar who is correct.
Even my own self-dulled intellect, however, can grasp the exquisite beauty with which Father Martin Stepanich, O.F.M., S.T.D., offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the childlike simplicity of his Franciscan demeanor. Father Martin pronounces each word in the Mass slowly and distinctly, understanding that he is an alter Christus, re-presenting in an unbloody manner the very Sacrifice of the Son to the Father in Spirit and in Truth that was offered on the wood of the Holy Cross on Good Friday. His offering of Holy Mass takes between forty-five and fifty minutes. Nothing is deliberately slowed, although he does pause for a sufficient amount of time at the Mementos for the Living and the Dead to permit those of us privileged to assist at his Mass to remember a number of persons in each category, something for which we are most grateful. There is no "rush" to get to the Quam Oblationem in the Canon of the Mass. (His Excellency Bishop Robert F. McKenna, O.P. offers Masses at a similar pace and with similar exquisiteness in the Dominican Rite.)
The care with which Father Martin offers Holy Mass should come as no surprise. A meticulous botanist, Father Martin has for many decades now taken care of the "lilies of the field" in gardens, whether when he was living on the grounds of the Franciscan order or at the residences at which he has lived in the decades since that time, including in the garden he keeps at this time in Bolingbrook, Illinois, well into his ninety-third year of life. Imagine the skill and the patience to do such meticulous, back-breaking work with one's hands. Imagine having an encyclopedic knowledge of the origins of each flower one plants and the exact care that each needs to highlight the beauty with which God Himself has adorned it. Imagine the simplicity of soul that is able to look at the radiant beauty of each type of flower planted and to give glory to the Most Holy Trinity through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary. Yes, you see, Father Martin Stepanich is a gardener after the Gardener, Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Who tills the soil of our souls in order that they might blossom beautiful flowers unto eternity.
A priest who has such gifts of perception and knowledge is able to use the graces of Holy Orders to see every single detail of the Faith with exactitude and to appreciate it as much and as purely and devotedly as it can be appreciated in this passing, mortal vale of tears. Listen to any one of Father Martin's well-thought out sermons and you will know that he has been given the same gifts as were possessed by the late Father Frederick Faber in penetrating the depths of the Faith. Here are just several listed on the Archives page of Traditional Catholic Sermons.org:
Take the time to listen to Father Martin Stepanich. Listen to this faithful son of the Catholic Church. Do not be misled by theologically untrained deceivers who must--as in without exception--resort to the use of the ad hominem to denounce persons while they skirt substantive issues. Listen for yourselves.
Father Martin Stepanich is direct and to the point, using an economy of words to express himself and hopefully more will discover that a wonderful Catholic resource has been given us to us in the person of Father Martin Stepanich, O.F.M., S.T.D., a true son of Saint Francis of Assisi and of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Father Martin Stepanich is a true son of Saint Francis of Assisi, who was rejected and calumniated by his own father and set upon by thieves and spat upon by those from whom he begged alms. He accepts calumnies and invectives with these two words: Deo gratias!, offering all to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary. And although he read an original draft of this article and wrote to say that I could print it, he did so by saying the following to the person who communicated his handwritten note to me via e-mail:
Dr. Droleskey sure did spread the peanut butter of praise on me plenty thick. But let him write it up as he sees it. I am no "giant." I am just a small potato.
Well, this "small potato" named Father Martin Stepanich, O.F.M., S.T.D., suffers all for the Faith without compromise as a devoted son of Saint Francis and a consecrated slave of the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Please join me in praying a Rosary right now for Father Martin Stepanich in gratitude for his years of fidelity to the Catholic Faith despite all of the persecutions and calumnies to which he has been--and continues to be--subjected.
Tom has expressed the essence of Fr. Martin so well.
While this editor has never had the honor of meeting or talking with Father Stepanich, his writings reveal much, especially that he is a devout priest beyond reproach and one we can all take edification from for he possesses the charity and kindness of St. Francis. August is an ideal month to so honor this august alter Christus for he embodies the wisdom and devotion of St. Alphonsus Liguori, the moral strictness and caring candor of the holy Cure of Ars Saint Jean Marie Vianney with the rightful delegation of all credit to Christ the King as exhibited by St. Louis IX and the missionary fervor for exposing and defeating heresy that earmarked the qualities of Saint Dominic and Saint Bernard, while manifesting the intelligence of Saint Augustine in upholding the truths and traditions of holy Mother Church. But it is his love for Our Lady that has spurred him on and we can think of no greater day to honor him than on the Solemnity of the Assumption. Thus we have chosen August 15 to officially honor this fantastic faithful Franciscan and we proudly present the Cross of Truth in his honor and enshrine him in the Tower of Trent Hall of Honor and proclaim Friday, August 15 as Father Martin Stepanich, O.F.M., S.T.D. Day throughout all of Christendom.
For those inducted so far into the Tower of Trent Hall of Honor see HALL OF HONOR