MR. MARTIN AT WORK (KATHLEEN LAMANNA PHOTO)
MR. MARTIN AT WORK (KATHLEEN LAMANNA PHOTO)
"I just want to be known for doing good," said Richard Martin of St. Mary's parish in Coxsackie.

Mr. Martin considers himself the parish's official photographer, taking pictures at all events both at St. Mary's and at St. Patrick's parish in Ravena, which shares a pastor with St. Mary's.

That's a ministry the 75-year-old took on soon after he came back to the Church two years ago.

Back in 1975, he and his wife divorced and "I just turned bitter" and stopped attending Mass, he explained.

Mr. Martin's first wife now lives in Florida, but they still talk. He has two children, though he doesn't see or hear from them very often.

"My family is in my Church," he said.

Coming back to Catholicism was a long process for Mr. Martin. First, he tried attending several different Christian churches, but none of them felt like a good fit.

"I was searching," he told The Evangelist.

Watching DVDs by an evangelizing Catholic priest led him to reconnect with the faith he'd once spurned. He went to the sacrament of reconciliation, received absolution and never looked back.

"It's like he got a second wind," remarked Robert Desrosiers, pastoral associate and coordinator of religious education at St. Mary's. The two work together when Mr. Martin takes photos of parish events.

"He comes to almost everything we're doing," Mr. Desrosiers continued. "He's got himself involved in almost everything he can," especially the Knights of Columbus, where Mr. Desrosiers often encounters him.

Rev. Scott VanDerveer, pastor, and Deacon Michael McDonald call Mr. Martin the official parish photographer. "His generosity is unparalleled," said Father VanDerveer.

In fact, when the new pastor arrived at St. Mary's and St. Patrick's five months ago, "Richard said, 'Father, if there's anything I can do, you can call on me.' He really meant it. It's very heartwarming to see what he does for others and to experience it myself."

"I just love doing it," Mr. Martin said of his eager volunteerism. "It's my pleasure. It's an honor to me, to use [my talent] for my Church family."

Mr. Martin first started snaping pictures when he was only eight years old, growing up in his father's amusement park in Staten Island. He loves to photograph landscapes, but also enjoys interacting with fellow parishioners at St. Mary's.

At first, he noted, people were a little wary about having someone with a camera around, but they're warming up to his presence.

"I go to all the services," he said, noting that adjusting the camera to get the best shots in a dimly-lit church can be challenging. He doesn't use a flash in church, but makes sure to use high-quality lenses.

In addition to his parish ministry, Mr. Martin helps out with the Riverside Festival committee, Meals on Wheels and the Republican Club, and is vice president and program coordinator for the area's senior club.