From international banker to the Franciscans
Legatus’ Pasadena chaplain, now a Capuchin priest, has had a diverse career . . .
Fr. Tony Marti, OFM Cap.
Fr. Tony Marti’s life has been a Cuban-American odyssey — escaping Fidel Castro in 1962, going to a U.S. college, serving as an Army medic, marrying, and enjoying a career as an international banker. After his wife died, the father of one (now grandfather of two) eventually answered a new calling as a Capuchin Franciscan. Today he serves as president of St. Francis High School near Pasadena, ministering to a large “family” that includes members of Legatus. He spoke to Legatus magazine’s editorial assistant Matthew Rarey.
Tell us about your call to the priesthood.
Since I was a little kid, I always had the idea of priesthood. Then after my wife passed away in 1978, the thought came back to me. I trained to become a permanent deacon, and after two years of that, decided to join the Capuchins. I was very inspired by their community life and life of prayer.
How did you become acquainted with Legatus?
Our school’s previous president, Fr. Matt Elshoff, was also the chapter chaplain. So when I became president in 2008, they asked me to take over for him. I have a difficult time saying no to things! I hadn’t heard of Legatus before that.
What impact has Legatus had in Pasadena?
When you practice the faith and connect with other people, you’re having an impact that’s hard to measure. In a way, Legatus reminds me of Opus Dei in that Legates are lay people striving for holiness while going about their ordinary lives, influencing their places of work and their families in a big way.
I think we [the Pasadena Chapter] should sit down and brainstorm about things we could do together as a group to serve people in different areas of need — maybe not every member at once, but in smaller groups. That would be a real witness.
How do you approach your role as chaplain?
I like using the homily to convey a message. At our Mass last night, the Gospel had to do with the Pharisees criticizing Jesus for eating with sinners. All of us can be as critical as the Pharisees. We can be angry at God, upset, demanding. But at the end of the day, God laughs because he knows who we are. We need to deal with these issues as adults because we are called to a mature faith.
And we need to affirm others for the good works that they do. So I told them about a football player in our school who was very kind to a six-year-old boy with brain cancer, whom we recognized during halftime.
This player opened his arms and smiled at the kid, and this kid, who had been shy and reluctant, just jumped into his arms, full of joy. I wrote the young man and his parents a card, affirming him for being so welcoming and making that boy joyful.
You have a vocation, of course. Any avocations?
I’m a workaholic. That’s the way I was as a banker and that’s the way I continue doing things today. Unfortunately, I don’t make enough time to read, but I must. A couple of years ago, my spiritual director recommended I read poetry to help me get in touch with my “soft side” and relax and feel my emotions more. I’ve recommended that to some of my kids, but I hope they never ask me if I do it because I couldn’t lie!
Can you recommend any particular devotion?
I began saying the Divine Office as a banker about five years before I joined the order, and there hasn’t been single day I haven’t said it. It’s powerful, and I love to teach it to other people.