Above, Father Martin Hall, seated, with Bishop Andrzej Zglejszewski and Msgr. Thomas Costa in a 2016 photo.
Father Martin Hall, retired parish priest and veteran of ministry to the deaf community, died on February 19. His wake will be held at St. Bernard’s Church, Levittown, on Friday, February 23 beginning at 2 p.m. There will be a Mass of Transferral on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. in St. Bernard Church. The funeral will be on Saturday, February 24, at 11 a.m. in St. Bernard Church. Both Masses will be interpreted/signed for the deaf.
Father Hall grew up in Brooklyn, one of three sons of Walter and Grace Hall, who were both deaf. Ordained June 7, 1952, for the Diocese of Brooklyn, he served the first two years of his priesthood at Holy Child Jesus, Richmond Hill, and St. Raphael’s, Long Island City. Informally, though, he quickly began ministry to people who were deaf. “One of the first things I did was prepare a deaf boy for his first Communion,” Father Hall said. Opportunities for ministry to people who were blind also presented themselves.
“Jesus reached out to the forgotten,” Father Hall said in an interview with the Long Island Catholic newspaper in 2012 on the 60th anniversary of his ordination. “Who is more forgotten that the deaf and the blind?”
In 1954, he was transferred to St. Thomas the Apostle, West Hempstead, continuing to minister to the deaf and blind on weekends. When the Diocese of Rockville Centre was created in 1957, Father Hall became a priest of the new diocese.
That year he was appointed to the additional duties of director of the diocesan Apostolate to the Deaf and the Catholic Guild for the Blind, where he served until 1963, when he became associate director of diocesan Catholic Charities’ special services division.
Father Hall returned to parish work in 1967 as associate pastor of St. William the Abbot, Seaford, serving until 1971. He then took a leave of absence to pursue a master’s degree in educational psychology from New York University.
After serving briefly at St. Peter the Apostle in Islip Terrace, Father Hall was assigned to Notre Dame, New Hyde Park, in 1974. “The people there were very good, as was the pastor, and I enjoyed the ministry,” including serving as chaplain of the Columbiettes, the Golden Age Club, and various institutions such as a home for the aged.
In 1988 he was assigned to St. Bernard’s Church, Levittown, where he was involved in religious education, chaplaincy for the Knights of Columbus, and other parish ministry in addition to his work with the deaf. He retired from parish work in 1996 but remained active with the deaf community for many years..