My name is Vito Martinez, and I am a friar with the Order of Capuchin Franciscans. I belong to the St. Joseph (Mid-west) Province, which has ministries as far east as Detroit and as far west as Montana. Most of our ministries focus on work with the poor and marginalized.

Before deciding to become a Capuchin friar, I lived as a car salesman, poker dealer, bouncer, and many other careers. My life gives me a unique perspective on religious life, as well as a special way to interact with the poor and marginalized.

My conversion story has drawn plenty of attention:

Grand Rapids Press, January 3, 2009

Interview with Dick Gordon on NPR, Number 1

Interview with Dick Gordon on NPR, Number 2

By sharing the highs and lows of my life, I try to show people a new way of looking at the world and one's self.


Francis Thompson, an English poet and addict, spent time with the Capuchins in northern Wales as he struggled to get clean. Had this to say about the Franciscans:
It is this lofty and unsought genuiness which makes the true poet take to the Franciscan and the true Franciscan to the poet. Two things in this world are poetry - and luckily do not know it - the child and the Franciscan.
My faith journey to become a friar, priest, and follower of Francis hasn't been easy, straight-forward, or even clear at times. What many people might not understand is that I am still myself in addition to my vows. I worry. I work hard. I have dreams. And sometimes I make mistakes. We are called with our gifts as well as our brokenness. And while that doesn't mean we shouldn't strive to be better, it means that we should strive to be who we really are.

This blog is who I really am. Peace and blessings,


(He said): “And human love needs human meriting:
How hast thou merited—
Of all man’s clotted clay the dingiest clot?
Alack, thou knowest not
How little worthy of any love thou art!
Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee,
Save Me, save only Me?

All which I took for I took from thee I did but take,
Not for thy harms,
But just that thou might'st seek it in My arms
All of which thy child's mistake
Fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home:
Rise, clasp my hand, and come!

-The Hound of Heaven by Francis Thompson

Healing of the Wounds

Inevitably the death of a loved one causes drama within a family. Whether it's squabbling over an inheritance, arguing over funeral costs, blaming each other for past sins, families find a way to make a sad event even worse. My family is no exception, and I've tried to focus my will on healing those wounds.

Due to financial reasons, the majority of my family (by that I mean my mom and 8 aunts & uncles) decided to have my grandmother cremated. There would be a Mass, then a small service, and then we would have whatever plans afterward. There would be no viewing, no casket, no plot, and of course no headstone. I've become the consigliere regarding Canon Law and the proper Catholic way to do things.

Earlier today there was discussion of changing the cremation to a full funeral with burial. Two of my uncles said they would pay a large portion themselves while allowing the rest to only pay a small part. A debate quickly ensued about who was responsible for how much, who had already made large contributions towards my grandmother's care, and what was best. Initially the question was simply about money.

As I listened to them talk and squabble, I surprised them by offering to pay the unpaid amount:

"If the remaining balance is only $1900, I have that in my account. I'll gladly pay for it, but is it what all of you want?"

I was given several looks, the grandson willing to pony up for his grandma's funeral, before I was told to keep my money, because I needed it. I told them that if they felt a funeral would make the difference, if that is what would bring full closure, then go for it. But if that's not what Grandma would want, people spending lots of money on her, then why go through the extra hassle?

I've spoken with the family regarding Catholics and cremation, and they know what needs to be done. My hope is that they focus not just on ceremonies, but on their love for their mother and their desire for her spirit to be with God in Heaven.

As Samuel L. Jackson said: "I'm tryin', Ringo. I'm tryin' real hard to be the shepherd."

Litany for the Dying

It's almost morbid...I sit here writing while I can see my aunt giving my grandmother water on a sponge. But in reality, I don't know what else to do but write.

I'm here with my mother and my aunt. A few hours earlier, I got an idea to say something other than the rosary. I felt that as this time draws close, something more needed to be said besides 10 Ave Maria's and a Noster Pater.

At midnight I lead the Litany for the Dying with my mother kneeling at my grandmother's bedside. I felt it important not just for the petitions to God, but as a way for my family to accept some sense of closure by commencing her soul to the Lord.

I was nervous and I felt I was the wrong person to be doing any kind of prayer ministry. I asked for God's grace to help me.

There's more to tell, but every minute is critical here. In a way, I chastise myself for hoping God takes her soon. I want her to not suffer. I want her to stop being in pain. I want her to be the strong woman I remember.

Despite those feelings, I would eagerly perform the Litany again. For my grandmother or anyone else's.

Music and Spirituality: Nora

I went to see my grandma today
I learned the difference
Between living and alive

Wall to wall roaches in a
2 x 4 infested room
Lying there in pain
Praying for the Lord to take her

Nora, I hope it won't be too long for you
Nora, All these years you've been so strong
Nora, I hope you don't mind if I call you Nora
Cause I love you.

After leaving her, I turned my life around
I see new life differently
Through the vision of old
And all material things don't mean that much to me
I guess I learned that
I'm just glad to be alive and healthy

Nora, all this time that you have known me
Nora, it took your whole life just to show me
Nora, how we take some things for granted
Nora, Nora, Nora, cause I love you.

Though I know there wasn't long to go
Time is something that we shared
And when you died
I didn't cry for long
Cause I believe I'll see you again

Nora, I'll see you on the other side
Nora, I'll be the one with swallowed pride
Nora, are you sure you don't mind if I call you Nora

I love you.

-Blessed Union of Souls

Please keep me and my family in your prayers.

I don't feel like typing anymore this week.

My Confession

There comes a time when we must account for our sins; not just to God but to those that care about us and keep us in their thoughts and prayers. While no one can give absolution but God, if we truly love those that are near us, then it is our duty to confess our sins to those we've wronged. And while I've only done things against me, I know others have prayed for me to find my way on this long journey of discernment and life.

Before leaving for Chicago, you recall my talk of the new job, the move, and how life had become confusing, yet profitable. In fact, this week it looks like I will get a check for $1000...without dealing on the side. Between the job, the money, and everything else, I started losing focus.

Today, driving home at 2 A.M from a poker game, I realized that my journey had taken a wrong turn, and only after losing $600 was I able to realize it.

In my quest to gain money (with the premise of paying off debt) I let the drive, that "chase," consume me. I spent all my time working. When I wasn't working, I was playing poker. If I wasn't doing either of those, I was playing video games. It was like I'd back-tracked the entire journey. I'd be up late Saturday night and miss morning mass. I'd pass over saying prayer to sleep in or to get to sleep. I even thought: "You know, if I go out and get laid, it's only nine more months I have to wait."

I made time to do everything I thought was important, yet I made no time for those that are truly important: my friends, my family, my spirituality, and even you my dear readers.

This blog has been an important part of my journey. It's an outlet to discuss my problems, my joys, and maybe share some stories. I used to write only what inspired me or brought me closer to God...perhaps this is when I most need to write.

I really don't know where to go from here. The demands and the pace of the priesthood/religious life are just as demanding. If I can't get control of my life now, am I really cut out to live that kind of life? Maybe God' never called me, and I've just been hoping that I could get away from all the temptations in my life. Maybe I can't complete this journey because I see all the other things that people want or have.

I just know I don't want to live this life...a life of money and chasing things. I just want it to be August of 2008. Maybe Satan's taking his stab at keeping me...I don't know. But I know I am not where I want to be, and no one is responsible but me.

I just want that joy again. I want to be happy with my life again. Please Lord, help me find my way.

The Rule of Vito?

After work, I had a small dinner with my Spiritual Director (she ate oatmeal). I was excited to tell her about Sunday, my experience with the Capuchins, and how excited I was about life. As always, she returned the energy, and we had a few good laughs.

I asked her about a question that had bugged me. I was asked by someone: "How would you describe your spirituality" and I was at a loss for words. I believe in God, I pray, I help out at church, etc. How do I develop my own sense of spirituality?

My Spiritual Director laughed, saying she'd thought the very same thing not that long ago. Like always, she had the perfect task for me to work on developing my own sense of spirituality.

My homework for the month is to write out my own rule of life. What is important to me, what makes me happy, how I should interact with others, what brings me closer to God. It can be 4 words or it can be 73 chapters like the Rule of St. Benedict. It's all up to me, but I must write up a rule of life.

The easy route would be to say: "Follow the Word of God" and be done with it, but I understand the purpose of the exercise. Each of us view God differently, and feel his presence in different things. For some of us God is power, and his work can be seen in the majesty of the mountains, the expanse of the seas, and the beauty of nature. For others God is truth. God is love. God is humility. Each person develops that relationship with God, and their faith is based off of that relationship. And I think that's what I'm looking for in my search for spirituality.

Music and Discernment: Candle In the Wind

Yesterday marked the anniversary of the death of Lady Diana of Wales. What she did in her life is beyond measure, and I see why her country loved her so much. Admittedly, I don't know as much about her as I should, but I see the wave of emotion she left behind, the lives she touched, and the help she tried to bring to this world.

I remember watching the wedding as well as the funeral. I remember Elton John playing on the piano. And I still get a little choked up when I hear the words of this song:

Goodbye England's rose
May you ever grow in our hearts
You were the grace that placed itself
Where lives were torn apart
You called out to our country
And you whispered to those in pain
Now you belong to heaven
And the stars spell out your name

And it seems to me you lived your life
Like a candle in the wind
Never fading with the sunset
When the rain set in
And your footsteps will always fall you
Along England's greenest hills
Your candle's burned out long before
Your legend never will

Loveliness we've lost
These empty days without your smile
This torch we'll always carry
For our nation's golden child
And even though we try
The truth brings us to tears
All our words cannot express
The joy you brought us through the years

And it seems to me you lived your life
Like a candle in the wind
Never fading with the sunset
When the rain set in
And your footsteps will always fall you
Along England's greenest hills
Your candle's burned out long before
Your legend never will

Goodbye England's rose
May you ever grow in our hearts
You were the grace that placed itself
Where lives were torn apart
Goodbye England's rose
From a country lost without your soul
Who'll miss the wings of your compassion
More than you'll ever know

And it seems to me you lived your life
Like a candle in the wind
Never fading with the sunset
When the rain set in
And you footsteps will always fall you
Along England's greenest hills
Your candle's burned out long before
Your legend never will

"Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you." -Diana of Wales