James Martin: A Modern Jesuit

Annika Bjornson, Editor-in-Chief

Many of the people we look up to as a society are the famed, charismatic, and attractive movie stars, singers, and millionaires. As teenage students of a Jesuit school, there are not many public figures with strong Jesuit values to whom we can relate and admire. However, Father James Martin SJ has provided me with inspiration in recent years as I see how his commitment to justice comes alive in creative ways.

Fr. James Martin is an American Jesuit priest and award-winning author. He has published over 12 books and several essays on how to live out Catholic values in this modern society, is a consultant to the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communications, and serves as an editor-at-large of a Jesuit magazine called America. He is also a member of the LABrynth Theater Company and based a book called A Jesuit Off-Broadway on his experiences in theater. In addition, Fr. Martin has a wide range of followers to whom he communicates via Twitter to show support for certain causes or provide spiritual encouragement, and in this way he is relevant and relatable to younger generations.

My first experience with Fr. Martin was hearing him give an impromptu speech in Philadelphia at a Jesuit student pilgrimage to see Pope Francis. I did not know who he was, but I was awed by his youthful wisdom and spiritual insight. He even generously stayed another hour after speaking to talk to almost every student. When I got home to Seattle, I did more research into his work and found that we had a lot of common interests and values.

As a teenage editor-in-chief of my Jesuit school’s newspaper who is involved in theater, I find his work very appealing. The priest has devoted his life to relating Catholicism to this society’s culture and politics in a way that has allowed him to pursue his passions. His message is timeless, but conveyed in ways that can relate to anyone of any age. Whether that message is accessed on the Internet, or in a book, or in a production, it calls us to live for the greater glory of God as we focus on engendering justice. This is a vital lesson for Jesuit-educated students to learn as we prepare to graduate and do what we love while contributing to important causes in the world.