Tributes paid to Ipswich priest Fr Martin Orme

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Tributes paid to Ipswich priest Fr Martin Orme

Fr Martin Kitchener Orme (1927-2022)

Tributes have been paid following the death of Ipswich priest, Fr Martin Orme, who recently celebrated 25 years in the Catholic priesthood, writes Fr Russell Frost.

Despite his middle name, Martin was too young to take up arms in World War II, but immediately after that conflict he obeyed the “call up” from God to serve in the Church.   His initial training for the Anglican ministry was undertaken at King’s College, London, gaining the Bachelor of Divinity degree (and Associate of King’s College) in 1950.

Later Martin was to gain the BA degree of the Open University in 1975, for his thirst for truth was never quenched. Sadly the work and material he had assembled for a Master of Arts degree through Heythrop in his eighties was all lost through a computer glitch.

After two curacies in the North-West he volunteered for service in the Royal Navy, and this was his ministry for the next 20 years or so, moving to be Chaplain of the Royal Hospital School at Holbrook in Ipswich in 1978, retiring from there in 1987. 

After a few years as Priest-in-Charge of St Mary at the Elms in Ipswich, he and his wife, Jean, made the courageous decision to be received into Full Communion with the Catholic Church. Jean supported Martin magnificently throughout their married life, at the same time pursuing her own career as a nurse and midwife, and raising their six children.

Fr James Walsh, then Parish Priest of St Mary Magdalen, Ipswich, suggested to Martin (by then aged nearly 70) to offer himself to the Bishop of East Anglia for ordination to the Catholic priesthood. Bishop Peter Smith was delighted to accept, and in March 1997, Martin was ordained.

His wisdom, experience and integrity were of the greatest support to Fr James, and later to Fr Michael Griffin and Fr Russell Frost.

Ten years later, Martin judged the time had come for him to “retire” finally, to actually worship side-by-side with his wife. They lived in the parish of St Pancras, Ipswich, and Martin was inevitably pressed into service again by Fr Sam Leeder.  Only the advancing dementia of Jean brought this era of self-sacrifice to a close.

Jean died in 2021 and Martin followed just a year later, dying on Tuesday, October 18.  It would have delighted him that he died on the Feast of St Luke, the gospel-writer, for the prime purpose of any priest is to proclaim the Gospel of Christ, the Good News of salvation.   In this, Martin excelled, in word and in deed, and his eloquence and skill have brought many to love and serve the Lord.   

May the Lord reward Fr Martin’s labours in the vineyard, and bring him swiftly to the glories of heaven!

Pictured above are Fr Martin and Jean Orme.