Sister Barbara Martens, originally from Pleasantville, dies


South Jersey native Sister Barbara Martens died Oct. 21 in the Saint Clare Community of Saint Elizabeth Motherhouse, Allegany, N.Y.

Born in Atlantic City, she was the daughter of Henry and Jule Calloway Martens of Pleasantville.

Sister Barbara was received into the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany, N.Y., at St. Elizabeth Motherhouse on Aug. 15, 1934, and professed her final religious vows on Aug. 16, 1941.

Growing up in Pleasantville, she attended grade school at Public School No. 2 and St. Peter’s from 1923-31, followed by two years at St. Peter’s High School, graduating from Holy Spirit High School in 1933. That same year she joined the Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis of Allegany, N.Y.

After entering, her education continued with studies at Medaille College in Buffalo, N.Y., and in later years at Saint Elizabeth Teacher’s College (now a part of St. Bonaventure University) in Allegany, N.Y. In 1968, she also completed a summer Inner City Program at St. Peter and Paul in Camden.

During her early years in religious life, Sister Barbara taught the younger grades in numerous schools of the Congregation in New York and New Jersey. Beginning in 1946, she accepted re-assignment to what became a series of positions, and included responsibilities as principal and superior in several communities of Brazil, South America: Pires do Rio, Catalao and Ceres.

After her international assignments ended, she returned to the U.S. to complete her college coursework, earning a bachelor’s degree in education. Sister then resumed her ministry of education in Brazil.

In 1968, she was informed of needed coverage at Saint John the Baptist in West Islip, N.Y., and for the next 25 years, served consecutively in the roles of library aid, attendance clerk and librarian. When the last position ended, Sister Barbara retired, but she volunteered at Saint John’s for another year before joining her sisters in retirement at St. Elizabeth Convent in Tampa, Fla.

Sister Barbara is predeceased by her parents and sister, Muriel Martens Spina. She is survived by a nephew, Gregory Spina of Naples, Fla.

A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated in the Chapel of St. Elizabeth Motherhouse, followed by burial in St. Bonaventure Cemetery, Allegany, N.Y.