The Rev. James Martin, S.J., is a Jesuit priest, author and editor at large at America, the national Catholic magazine.
James Martin was born in Plymouth Meeting, Pa., and was graduated from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business in 1982, where he received his bachelor's degree in economics (B.S. Econ.) with a concentration in finance. After working for six years in corporate finance with General Electric in New York City and Stamford, Ct., he entered the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) in 1988.
During his Jesuit novitiate in Boston, Martin worked at a hospital for the seriously ill in Cambridge, Mass.; in a hospice for the sick and dying with the Missionaries of Charity in Kingston, Jamaica; and at the Nativity Mission Center, 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 Chicago housing projects, and at a community center where he helped unemployed men and women. For his “regency” assignment, he worked for two years with Jesuit Refugee Service/East Africa in Nairobi, Kenya, where he helped East African refugees start small businesses, and co-founded a refugee handicraft shop called The Mikono Centre; and for one year as an associate editor at America in New York City. In 1995, Martin began graduate theology studies at the Weston Jesuit School of Theology (now Boston College School of Theology and Ministry), in Cambridge, Mass., where he received his master's degree in divinity (M.Div.) in 1998, and his master's in theology (Th.M.) in 1999. While in Cambridge, he worked as a chaplain at a Boston prison. After completing his Jesuit studies, he was ordained a Catholic priest in June 1999 in Chestnut Hill, Ma. On Nov. 1, 2009, he pronounced his final vows as a “fully professed” Jesuit in New York City.
Father Martin is the author of several award-winning books. His most recent book is Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor and Laughter are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life, (HarperOne, 2011), which was named as one of “Best Books” of 2011 by Publishers Weekly. This year HarperOne published an e-book Together on Retreat: Meeting Jesus in Prayer, which uses the technology of the e-reader to lead readers on a guided retreat. Next year his book Jesus: A Pilgrimage, which combines travel narrative, biblical study and spiritual reflections on the life of Christ, will be published.
Among his other books, The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life (HarperOne, 2010), a New York Times bestseller, was awarded a 2010 Christopher Award, and was also a number one bestseller in Catholic books. His 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. My Life with the Saints has sold over 120,000 copies and is used in universities, high schools, parishes and book clubs around the world, and was chosen for use in hundreds of U.S. parishes through the Dynamic Catholic Program. His book A Jesuit Off-Broadway: Center Stage with Jesus, Judas and Life's Big Questions (Loyola Press, 2007), was named one of Publishers Weekly’s “Best Books” of 2007 and was awarded a First Place award from the Catholic Press Association.
Father Martin is also the author of: Becoming Who You Are: Insights on the True Self from Thomas Merton and Other Saints (Paulist, 2006), Searching for God at Ground Zero (Sheed & Ward: 2002); In Good Company: The Fast Track from the Corporate World to Poverty, Chastity and Obedience (Sheed & Ward: 2000, 2010); and This Our Exile: A Spiritual Journey with the Refugees of East Africa (Orbis: 1999, 2009), winner of a Catholic Press Association award. He is the editor of Celebrating Good Liturgy: A Guide to the Ministries of the Mass (Loyola, 2005); Awake My Soul: Contemporary Catholics on Traditional Devotions (Loyola, 2004); and How Can I Find God: The Famous and Not-So-Famous Consider the Quintessential Question (Liguori, 1997, 2004) and co-editor, with Jeremy Langford, of Professions of Faith: Living and Working as a Catholic (Sheed & Ward: 2002). His books have been translated into Spanish, German, Portuguese, Polish, Chinese, Korean, Hungarian, Lithuanian and Slovenian. His DVD Who Cares about the Saints was released by Loyola Press in 2009, and many of his talks and lectures are available on the web.
Besides articles in Catholic publications like America, Commonweal, U.S. Catholic, Catholic Digest and The (London) Tablet, Father Martin has written for, among other places, 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, The Huffington Post and The New York Times’s and The Washington Post’s websites. He has commented on religion and spirituality in the national and international media, and he has appeared on all the major radio and television networks, and in venues as diverse as National Public Radio's "Fresh Air with Terry Gross," NPR’s “Weekend Edition” and "All Things Considered," PBS’s “Newshour,” Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” and Fox News Channel's "The O'Reilly Factor," as well as ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, PBS, The History Channel, the BBC, Voice of America and Vatican Radio. Father Martin maintains an active presence on his public Facebook page and also on Twitter.
For his various ministries, Father Martin has received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree (D.D.) from Wagner College in New York 2007, and honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees (D.Hum.) from Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia and from Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Ct., in 2010; from Le Moyne College in Syracuse in 2011; and in 2012 from St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, St. Louis University and Immaculata University in Immaculata, Pa. He has also received Fordham University’s Gaudium et Spes Award, the Ignatian Volunteer Corps’s Madonna della Strada Award, the Loyola Institute of Spirituality’s Writers’ Award, and the Religion Communication Association’s Scholar of the Year Award. Last year he was invited by the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops to speak at World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro.
Father Martin began his work at America magazine in 1995 as associate editor, returned after ordination in 1999 as associate editor and since then has also served as culture editor, acting publisher and now editor at large. 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 at retreat houses. On Sundays he assists at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola in New York City.