The Rev. James Martin, S.J., Jesuit priest, editor at large of America magazine, consultor to the Vatican's Secretariat for Communication and New York Times best-selling author, will be the keynote speaker when Misericordia University holds its 7th annual winter commencement ceremony on Sunday, Dec. 17 at 2 p.m. in the Anderson Sports and Health Center. Commencement activities also will include a baccalaureate Mass at 10:30 a.m. in Lemmond Theater.
During the commencement ceremony, the University will confer degrees to 331 eligible students from 18 states and present Father Martin an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.
A native of Plymouth Meeting, Father Martin holds a bachelor's degree in economics with a concentration in finance from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business. After working for six years in corporate finance with General Electric in New York City and GE Capital in Stamford, Connecticut, he entered the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) in August 1988. He attended the Weston Jesuit School of Theology, now Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he received his master's degree in divinity in 1998 and his master's in theology in 1999.
During his Jesuit novitiate, Martin worked in a hospice for the sick and dying with the Missionaries of Charity and at an orphanage in Kingston, Jamaica; at a homeless shelter in Boston; and at the Nativity Mission School, a Jesuit school for inner-city boys in New York City. He also studied philosophy at Loyola University Chicago, Illinois, and worked in an outreach program with street-gang members in Chicago housing projects. For his regency assignment, he worked for two years with the Jesuit Refugee Service/East Africa in Nairobi, Kenya, where he helped East African refugees start small businesses and co-founded the refugee handicraft shop, The Mikono Centre. He also served for one year as an associate editor at America in New York City.
During his theology studies, he also worked as a chaplain at a Boston prison. After completing his Jesuit studies, he was ordained a Catholic priest in June 1999.
Father Martin is the author and editor of several books. His most recent book, "Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Sensitivity and Compassion," was published in 2017. His book "Seven Last Words: An Invitation to a Deeper Friendship with Jesus" was published in 2016 and his first novel, "The Abbey: A Story of Discovery," preceded it in 2015.
His book, "Jesus: A Pilgrimage," published in 2014, combines travel narrative, biblical criticism and spiritual reflections on the life of Christ. It was a New York Times best-seller and won a Christopher Award and a Catholic Press Association Award.
Among his other books is "Together on Retreat: Meeting Jesus in Prayer," released in 2013, an e-book that uses the technology of the e-reader to lead readers on a guided retreat. In 2011, he published, "Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor and Laughter are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life." Publishers Weekly named it one of the "Best Books" of 2011.
His book on Jesuit spirituality, "The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life," was named a 2010 New York Times best-seller. It received a 2010 Christopher Award, and was a number one best-seller in Catholic books.
His memoir, "My Life with the Saints," 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. "My Life with the Saints" has sold more than 150,000 copies and is used in universities, high schools, parishes, and book clubs around the world. It was chosen for use in hundreds of U.S. parishes through the Dynamic Catholic Program. His books have been translated into 21 languages.
Father Martin has written articles for Catholic publications, including America magazine, Commonweal, U.S. Catholic, Catholic Digest and The (London) Tablet. He also has published articles in national newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, The Chicago Tribune, The Philadelphia Inquirer, O Magazine and numerous other news outlets, including Slate, Time, CNN, The Huffington Post and websites for The New York Times and The Washington Post. He has commented on religion and spirituality in the national and international media, and he has appeared on major radio and television networks, including National Public Radio, Comedy Central, Fox News, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, PBS, The History Channel, the BBC, National Geographic and Vatican Radio. He served as a commentator for ABC News during the 2013 papal conclave and during Pope Francis's visit to the United States in 2015.
Besides his editorial, publishing and media work, 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, has taught at Boston College's Summer Institute, and leads seminars and directs retreats.
In 2013, Father Martin was invited by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to speak at World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro. In 2015, he preached the Seven Last Words on Good Friday in St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City at the invitation of Timothy Cardinal Dolan, archbishop of New York; and later did the same in Washington, D.C., at the invitation of Donald Cardinal Wuerl, archbishop of Washington.
In 2017, Pope Francis appointed Father Martin as a consultor to the Vatican's Secretariat for Communication. On Sundays, he assists at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola in New York City.