New York Times Best-selling Jesuit Author to Give Principal Address at 2017 Undergraduate Commencement

March 31, 2017

The University of Scranton announced James Martin, S.J., New York Times best-selling author and editor-at-large of America magazine who has also worked with such diverse populations as hospice patients, migrants and members of street-gangs, will be the principal speaker at its undergraduate commencement on Sunday, May 28. He will also receive an honorary degree from the University at the ceremony.

The well-known Jesuit author of numerous books that include the New York Times best-sellers “Jesus: A Pilgrimage” and “The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything,” Father Martin is a regular commentator on religion and spirituality in the national and international media.

“A prolific writer, Father Martin has a remarkable way of using humor and stories to convey straightforward messages packed with wisdom and profound spiritual meaning,” said University of Scranton President Kevin P. Quinn, S.J. “We are blessed to have him serve as our commencement speaker - one who our students and guests will surely enjoy.”

Father Martin’s most recent book, “Seven Last Words: An Invitation to a Deeper Friendship with Jesus” was published in 2016. His first novel, “The Abbey: A Story of Discovery” was published in 2015. In addition to being named a New York Times best-seller, his book “Jesus: A Pilgrimage,” published in 2014, won a Christopher Award and Catholic Press Association Award. His other New York Times best-selling book “The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life” was awarded a 2010 Christopher Award, and was also a number one best-seller in Catholic books. His other award-winning books include “Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor and Laughter are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life,” which was named as one of “Best Books” of 2011 by Publishers Weekly. His memoir “My Life with the Saints” 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. His book “A Jesuit Off-Broadway: Center Stage with Jesus, Judas and Life’s Big Questions” was also named one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2007 and was awarded a First Place award from the Catholic Press Association.

Father Martin’s articles have been published in America, Catholic Digest, The Tablet (London), The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, Philadelphia Inquirer and O Magazine, among many others. He has commented on religion and spirituality in the national and international media, including National Public Radio’s “Fresh Air with Terry Gross,” NPR’s “Weekend Edition,” PBS’s “Newshour,” Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report,” Fox News Channel’s “The O’Reilly Factor” 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.

Father Martin also served as a consultant to several plays and films, including Stephen Adly Guirgis’s play “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot,” John Patrick Shanley’s film “Doubt” and Martin Scorsese’s film “Silence.”

Father Martin has received honorary degrees from more than a dozen colleges, including Creighton University, Sacred Heart University, St. Louis University, Santa Clara University and Gonzaga University. He also received Fordham University’s Gaudium et Spes Award, the Ignatian Volunteer Corps’ Madonna della Strada Award, the Loyola Institute of Spirituality’s Writers’ Award, the Religion Communication Association’s Scholar of the Year Award, the Breukelein Institute’s Gaudium Award, SOAR’s St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Award and New Ways Ministry’s Building Bridges Award.

Father Martin’s service includes work at a hospice with the Missionaries of Charity in Kingston, Jamaica; a homeless shelter in Boston; a school for inner-city boys in New York City; an outreach program with street-gang members in Chicago, and at Jesuit Refugee Service/East Africa in Nairobi, Kenya.

A native of Plymouth Meeting, Father Martin earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. He received his master’s degree in divinity and his master’s in theology from Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He was ordained a Catholic priest in June 1999.

The University of Scranton’s undergraduate commencement ceremony will be held at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, Wilkes-Barre, on Sunday, May 28, at noon.

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