Father Martin Carter, S.A., who was pastor of Our Lady of Victory parish in Brooklyn for 13 years, died Dec. 25. He was 91.
Father Carter, who was black, had initially been turned away from seminaries because of his race. He was well-regarded in the Diocese of Brooklyn, where he also served as director of the Office of Black Ministry following a stint as director of the Office of Black Ministry for the Diocese of Raleigh, N.C., in the 1980s.
The website of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement, his religious congregation, notes that Father Carter was born in North Carolina and his family was denied entry into area Catholic churches until the order built a church in his community that did not bar worshippers due to race.
Father Carter heard a call to the ordained priesthood but likewise had a hard time convincing a diocese or a religious order of his vocation until the Atonement Friars welcomed him in 1948. He took first vows in 1950 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1975.
While serving as a high school teacher in Chicago in 1977, Father Carter founded Kujenga—Swahili for “to build”—a leadership training program to emphasize young people’s positive identity and gifts.
He was the first black pastor of Our Lady of Victory, which was largely populated by Caribbean immigrants at the time Father Carter was named pastor in 1995.
Father Carter’s efforts brought new members and vitality to Our Lady of Victory. A decade after his departure in 2008, Our Lady of Victory was merged with two other nearby parishes which were losing members. The parish was renamed St. Martin de Porres.
Father Carter is survived by his twin brother, Gilbert, who lives in High Point, N.C., their birthplace.
A Funeral Mass was offered Jan. 8 at the friars’ Our Lady of Atonement Chapel at Graymoor in Garrison. Burial was in the order’s cemetery. —CNS