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2011 Baccalaureate Speaker: Rev. James Martin

April 5, 2011, Volume 57, No. 28


The Rev. James Martin, S.J., will be Penn’s guest speaker on Sunday, May 15 for the Baccalaureate Ceremony which is an interfaith program that includes music, readings, prayers and a guest speaker. Two consecutive ceremonies will be held in Irvine Auditorium, in order to accommodate all those who wish to attend. Students whose last names begin with A–K are invited to attend at 1:30 p.m.; those whose last names begin with L–Z are invited to attend at 3 p.m.

The Rev. James Martin, S.J., is a Jesuit priest, author and culture editor of America, a national Catholic magazine. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School in 1982, where he received a bachelor’s degree in economics with a concentration in finance. After working for six years in corporate finance with General Electric Co., he entered the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) in 1988. 

Rev. Martin worked in a hospice for the sick and dying with the Missionaries of Charity in Kingston, Jamaica; and at the Nativity Mission School, a school for poor boys, in New York City. In 1990, he pronounced his simple vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. From 1990 to 1992, he studied philosophy at Loyola University Chicago, and worked in an outreach program with street-gang members in the inner city, and at a community center where he helped unemployed men and women. For his “regency,” he worked for two years with the Jesuit Refugee Service in Nairobi, Kenya, where he helped East African refugees start small businesses, and co-founded a refugee handicraft shop; and for one year with America magazine in New York City. In 1995, he began graduate theology studies at the Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he received his master’s degree in divinity in 1998 and his master’s in theology in 1999. While in Cambridge, he worked as a chaplain for a Boston prison. After completing his Jesuit studies, he was ordained a Catholic priest in June 1999. In 2009, he pronounced his final vows as a “fully professed” Jesuit.

Father Martin is the author of several award-winning books. His bestselling memoir My Life with the Saints (Loyola, 2006), which received a 2007 Christopher Award, was named one of the “Best Books” of 2006 by Publishers Weekly, and also received a First Place award from the Catholic Press Association. Ithas sold over 120,000 copies and is used in universities, high schools, parishes and book clubs around the country.His book A Jesuit Off-Broadway: Center Stage with Jesus, Judas and Life’s Big Questions (Loyola, 2007), was named one of Publishers Weekly’s “Best Books” of 2007 and was awarded a First Place award from the Catholic Press Association. 

His latest book is The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life (HarperOne 2010), which quickly became a New York Times bestseller, and was also a number one bestseller in Catholic books. In 2012, his book Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor and Laughter are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life, will be published by HarperOne.

He is also author of Becoming Who You Are: Insights on the True Self from Thomas Merton and Other Saints; Searching for God at Ground Zero; In Good Company: The Fast Track from the Corporate World to Poverty, Chastity and Obedience; and This Our Exile: A Spiritual Journey with the Refugees of East Africa, winner of a Catholic Press Association award. He is the editor of Celebrating Good Liturgy: A Guide to the Ministries of the Mass; Awake My Soul: Contemporary Catholics on Traditional Devotions; and How Can I Find God: The Famous and Not-So-Famous Consider the Quintessential Question. His books have been translated into Spanish, German, Portuguese, Polish, Chinese and Korean. 

Besides articles in Catholic publications like America, Commonweal, U.S. Catholic, Catholic Digest and The (London) Tablet, he has written for the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, the Chicago Tribune, The Philadelphia Inquirer, O Magazine and other newspapers and websites, including Slate.com, Beliefnet, Huffington Post and the New York Times’ website. He has commented on religion and spirituality in the national and international media, and he has appeared on all the major networks, and on NPR’s “Fresh Air with Terry Gross,” NPR’s “Weekend Edition,” PBS’s “The Newshour with Jim Lehrer,” Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” and Fox News Channel’s “The O’Reilly Factor,” as well CNN, MSNBC, PBS, The History Channel, and BBC and Vatican Radio.  

Father Martin has received Fordham University’s Gaudium et Spes Award, the Ignatian Volunteer Corps’s Madonna della Strada Award, and the Loyola Institute of Spirituality’s Writers’ Award. He received an honorary doctor of divinity degree from Wagner College in New York and honorary doctor of humane letters degrees from Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia, and from Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut.

Father Martin has been invited by Catholic dioceses and archdioceses to address gatherings of clergy and laity, has spoken at colleges and universities across the country, and leads seminars and retreats at retreat houses. On Sundays he assists at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola in New York City.


Almanac - April 5, 2011, Volume 57, No. 28