March 11, 1938 - August 10, 1998
Sue Seid Martin, gifted musician and liturgist, died August 10, 1998 after a long illness. Sue was organist and music director at parishes in Iowa, Texas and New York before becoming the Director of Chapel Music at the University of Notre Dame. From there she came to the Twin Cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis and over the years taught at the College of St. Catherine, St. Paul Seminary and United Theological Seminary. She also was a frequent guest speaker in archdiocesan parishes. She had tremendous influence on liturgists and musicians wherever she lived; her passion for the liturgy was infectious, her vision unwavering.
I can remember the early days of the Association of Liturgical Ministers (ALM). We met for Evening Prayer on Sunday nights at the old St. Paul Seminary Chapel. Parish Music Directors should have been exhausted on Sunday night, but somehow that Evening Prayer together was energizing rather than draining. Then we went over to the Administration Building and sat in the parlor, dragging in extra chairs or sitting on the floor, to hear a speaker and have cookies and punch and coffee. Sue helped maintain the format and content of those early meetings, meetings that built the foundation of the organization.
I can remember going to see her in her office at the College of St. Catherine while I was still teaching at Hill-Murray High School. Someone had said she was a good person to talk with if one was interested in getting involved with liturgy. I don’t remember the actual words of the conversation, but I remember sound advice was given, as well as inspiration and affirmation. That type of meeting was repeated often through the years as I sought her advice on different matters. Sue had the ability to recognize the gifts in others and the grace to step aside and let people find and use their gifts.
I can remember dozens of committee meetings; for the 1987 NPM National Convention, for 2 different conferences with Mark Searle, for the continuing education workshops on the seasons of the Church year at the Seminary, for the North American Academy of Liturgy meeting, for other conventions, other workshops. I can remember dozens of liturgical events, concerts, talks, and rehearsals. She was truly a pastoral Church musician. She believed that the music serves the liturgy and she has a gift for choosing the right music for each ritual moment.
I can remember being called together for a meeting one last time by Sue to help plan her funeral. And I can remember all we said that day and all we said and did on the day we implemented those plans at the vigil and funeral celebrating Sue’s life. I can remember thinking Sue must have been pleased with the ritual and music and happy to see so many of us put into action all she had taught us over the years.
I will remember Sue forever and I will miss her a great deal. She challenged all of us to be the best liturgical ministers we could be and she taught us to strive to help our assemblies participate in the liturgy with full, conscious and active hearts and minds.
Tribute prepared by Vicki Klima, Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, Worship Center.
Madeleine Sue Henderson Seid Martin died on Sunday, August 10, in St. Paul, MN, after a long struggle with cancer and its complications. Born in Indiana, she taught at the University of Notre Dame, the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity, the School of Divinity of the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, and at the United Theological Seminary, New Brighton, MN. She also served as music director for Presbyterian churches in Iowa and Texas, and for Episcopal parishes in Wichita Falls, TX, and Rochester, NY, before going to the University of Notre Dame as its Director of Chapel Music.
Sue had been very active in NPM as a clinician and teacher until her illness limited her activities. She coordinated the liturgies for the Second NPM National Convention, held in Chicago in 1979, and she served as a clinician for the NPM Choir Director Institute, teaching and encouraging pastoral musicians to serve God through their musical performance.
Her funeral began with a twenty-four hour vigil on August 21, at St. William Church, Fridley, MN, during which the entire book of psalms was prayed, sung, and danced, led by her many friends; the funeral Mass was on August 22, and the ministers included Sue's children (Laurel, Leslie, and Michael) and grandchildren.
Sue never compromised on the need for excellence and competence in musical worship, and she always held a deep passion for her own work as a pastoral musician, knowing well that her music was always at the service of others. David Haas noted of her life that her "influence on liturgical music in this country is hard to measure. She always knew what kind of music was needed for the church. From her, I learned. . . the integrity that all of us are called to as ministers. We have lost a true light, one . . . by which others were able to move forward."
Tribute prepared by NPM staff, published in Pastoral Music, October-November 1998, pg. 12. Reprinted with permission.