Our History

St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church | Martinsville, Indiana

Established 1848

The first church building was erected under the direction of Rev. Daniel Maloney, who from 1848–1855 served the small local group of Catholics in Martinsville from his home parish in Columbus, IN. On October 28, 1848, Nail and Bridget Mallon deeded one acre of land located near the intersection of Catholic Cemetery and Low Gap roads for a church and cemetery. The log cabin church which served the community of “Little Ireland” was named St. Columban. In 1868 the parish relocated to Martinsville; eventually the original church deteriorated and in 1936 a limestone cross was erected to mark the site.

The second church building, located at the intersection of Pike and Wayne Streets in Martinsville, had originally been a Baptist church and school before it was purchased at a price of $700 by Nicholas Gillig, brother of then pastor Father John P. Gillig, whose residence was in Greensburg. The new church was dedicated December 27, 1868 at which time the name was changed from St. Columban to St. Martin.

In 1888, under the direction of Father Angelus Bill, O.F.M., of Sacred Heart Parish in Indianapolis, the wood frame church was demolished and the cornerstone was laid for a new brick church. Until construction of the new church was completed, parishioners met for Mass in the YMCA Hall located over the post office. In 1892 a frame addition was built onto the rear of the church to serve as a sacristy and as a place for the visiting priest to spend the night. Prior to 1934, Catholics in Martinsville were served by visiting priests who traveled from Shelbyville, Bloomington, Columbus, Indianapolis and Greensburg.

St. Martin of Tours received its first resident pastor, Rev. Urban Sonderman, in 1934. He was succeeded by Rev. Francis Kull in 1935, who served the parish as pastor until 1945.

In 1945, Father Charles Sexton was installed as pastor, serving for 38 years until his retirement in 1983. He came to a parish of only 68 members; by the time of his retirement St. Martin had grown to 950 members. In 1955 the parish numbered about 500 people, so a second Mass was added on Sunday to meet the demand. The 1888 church, however, held only 110 people, so some had to stand outside and watch through the church windows. Father Sexton purchased 39 acres at the price of $20,000 and the first Mass in the present church building was celebrated on Christmas Day, 1962.

Under Father Sexton, the Religious Education Program grew and in 1981 Sexton Hall was constructed, with classrooms and a parish hall that could be divided for additional classroom space. In 1983 Father Sexton retired at the age of 70.

Father James Higgins succeeded Father Sexton as our pastor on July 5, 1983, serving the people of St. Martin until his death on August 27, 1993. During his pastorate, St. Martin grew in size to about 1200 members, becoming the largest church in Martinsville.

Father Mark Gottemoeller became our pastor on November 3, 1993. In a growing parish, lack of classroom space soon became an issue again, and our Religious Ed building was constructed in 1999. Prior to its completion, CCD classes for all grades could not be scheduled at the same time. Father Mark served as pastor of St. Martin until June 30, 2005.  

Father John Hall came to us from St. Ambrose in Seymour on July 1, 2005. He was ordained on May 17, 1980 and served as Administrator of Our Lady of the Springs in French Lick and Our Lord Jesus Christ the King in Paoli in addition to his duties as pastor here at St. Martin of Tours.

Father David Marcotte became pastor of St. Martin on July 6, 2016.

St. Martin of Tours Parish currently serves 500 families with 1320 individual parishioners.