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Rev. James Martin, S.J., named 2017 Commencement speaker

| By Stephanie Weaver
Rev. James Martin, S.J.

Jesuit priest and bestselling author Rev. James Martin, S.J., will deliver the commencement address at Loyola University Maryland’s 165th Commencement Exercises on Saturday, May 20, 2017, at 11 a.m. at Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore, Md.

Fr. Martin is the editor of the national Catholic magazine America, frequent commentator on religion and spirituality in the national and international media, and author of seven books including his most recent, Seven Last Words: An Invitation to a Deeper Relationship with Jesus.

Born in Plymouth Meeting, Pa., Fr. Martin graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business with a degree in economics with a concentration in finance and worked for General Electric for six years before entering the Society of Jesus in August 1988. He studied philosophy at Loyola University Chicago and received his master's degree in divinity and his master's in theology from what is now the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. He was ordained a Catholic priest in June 1999, and he pronounced his final vows as a Jesuit in November 2009.

“Through his prolific writing and speaking, Fr. Martin has become an influential and dynamic voice to people of all faiths and backgrounds, bringing compassion and understanding to the significant issues of our time,” said Rev. Brian F. Linnane, S.J., president of Loyola. “His commitment to social justice, deep faith, and talent for incorporating humor and storytelling will help shape a more final and powerful message for our graduating students as they prepare for this next chapter in their lives. Fr. Martin has long been a friend of Loyola University Maryland, and we are delighted to be able to welcome him as a member of the Class of 2017.”

Fr. Martin will receive a doctor of humane letters, honoris causa, from Loyola during the ceremony.

Among his many roles, Fr. Martin has served at a hospital for the seriously ill in Cambridge, Mass., in a hospice with the Missionaries of Charity in Kingston, Jamaica, at the Nativity Mission School in New York City, in an outreach program for street-gang members in the Chicago housing projects, and for two years supporting East African refugees through Jesuit Refugee Service/East Africa in Nairobi, Kenya.

In December 2013, Fr. Martin spoke at Loyola during a weekend celebration to launch Loyola’s Bright Minds, Bold Hearts fundraising campaign, which has raised more than $80 million. After his talk at Loyola, Fr. Martin told Loyola magazine, “I’ve never been to a Jesuit school where there is such enthusiasm and such buy-in for Jesuit values from top to bottom.”

Fr. Martin has written for several publications, including the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. He has also appeared on NPR’s Fresh Air, Fox’s The O’Reilly Factor, and PBS’s NewsHour, and Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report.

He is the author of The Abbey, Jesus, The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, A Big Heart Open to God, Together on Retreat, and Between Heaven and Mirth. His books have been translated into Chinese, German, Hungarian, Japanese, Korean, Lithuanian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovakian, Slovenian, and Spanish.

Fr. Martin assists with Sunday Mass at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola in New York City.

Also honored at Commencement will be Michael P. Cataneo, ’61, who will receive the President’s Medal; Daniel L. Rizzo, ’99, who will receive the Carroll Medal; Susan M. Donovan, Ph.D., executive vice president of Loyola, who will receive the Newman Medal; and the Catholic Charities’ Esperanza Center, which will receive the Milch Award.

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