Sr. Eva Regina Martin SSF: Well Done Good and Faithful Servant

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

On April 7, 2014, I lost another one of my spiritual mentors. I remember getting the news while attending a conference in Seattle that Sr. Eva Regina Martin, SSF – Sr. Eva – had passed away from a brain aneurysm. She is still missed by many because of her gift of love and life, which blessed many generations. Sr. Eva was one of the former directors of the Institute for Black Catholic Ministries at Xavier University of Louisiana and one of the former Superiors of the Sisters of the Holy Family, whose foundress, Venerable Mother Henriette Delille, is one of the six African Americans on the road to Canonization.

Sr. Eva, along with many of the other Sisters of the Holy Family, knew me from my younger days when I was a little more “troublesome.” Several of them still joke about the “miracle” that it is that I work for the church (hahaha…) Anyway, other than my former Pastor and the former Associate Director of the Office of Black Catholic Ministries for the Archdiocese of New Orleans, Mrs. Sophie Aramburo, Sr. Eva was the main influence on me considering going to full-time ministry. I remember the day clearly when I went to Xavier University to the Institute for Black Catholic Studies office. Now, I wasn’t there to visit the Institute. No, I was there to flirt with one of the ladies that worked in the same area that the Institute office was located. Well, while I was there, Sr. Eva walked in and asked what I was doing after I graduated from undergrad at Loyola. I told her, “I don’t know. I think Fr. Mike wants me to work at Peter Claver as the youth minister. I’ll probably go to graduate school at Loyola too.” Her response was, “Well you are coming to the Institute too… and Fr. Mike is going to pay for it.” She then added, “This is great news,” before I could even respond. Also, before I knew it, I had an IBCS brochure and application in my hand. The young lady I came to see was dying laughing at the whole interaction.

That is how Sr. Eva operated. She worked out of faith and love. She was proud of her heritage as an African American woman. She was proud of her religious community, the Sisters of the Holy Family. She was also proud about being Catholic. All these things were intertwined in how she lived out her vocation. She inspired many and advocated for many more. There are many priests, deacons, and religious out there who were shaped and loved by Sr. Eva. Her impact, love, and dedication will be felt for generations to come. I remember I would get a random e-mail or phone call from her telling me how proud she was of me. That is the blessing of the life of Sr. Eva. My thoughts still go to my “spiritual mother” and the gift she was to me and so many others. She is one of the people that my book is dedicated to.

Sr. Eva, you are missed, but I know that you are smiling down on all of us as you join with Venerable Mother Henriette Delille, Mrs. Sophie Aramburo, Fr. Mike, and the countless others in Heaven. I ask those reading this to reflect on those ancestors in faith that paved a way for you to “be.” I pray that we take up the work that they started in our parishes and schools so that we honor their legacies and fulfill our duty. Thank you, Sr. Eva, for your love, your support, your advocacy, and your prayers, and I pray my ministry continues to make you proud.

Written by the Holy Rukus