Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Happy Birthday, Father Martin

Today is the birthday of Reverend James Martin, SJ. Currently residing at Georgetown University, Father Martin is the oldest Jesuit in the world. He turned 104. And yet, if you snooped around Georgetown's website, you would be hard-pressed to find mere mention of this occasion, which is unfortunate. (His website bio hasn't even been updated in two years.)

Father Martin once drove me from a barbershop back to Georgetown's main campus--he could still get around back then, as a sprightly 90-year-old. ("Drove" might also not be the most accurate word. We sort of just floated down Wisconsin Avenue.) All the while he struck up a conversation with me. I kept telling him my name was Vic and he kept calling me Pat. "So where you from, Pat?" he asked. Martin, who was born when Teddy Roosevelt was president, was once posted in the Philippines and explained to me how he taught the local kids how to play baseball. This was in the 1930s. During the Second World War, he served as an Army-Air Corps chaplain.

Today Father Martin is mostly wheel-chair bound, a little hard of hearing, and a little hard of seeing. But I've been told he still enjoys a hearty breakfast of bacon and eggs. We should all be so lucky.


Anonymous said...

Very nice Vic.

Now how about an appreciation of Father Ribera? FX

jjv said...

When I was at gtown law in 89, I think, we all showed up for 5 Mass but it had been shut down because Main Campus was closed (Georgetown Law is on the Hill and the campus is in Georgetown). In any event we went to the residence (about 30 of us) and old, old Father Martin(I'm almost certain) came out. So that we would not miss Mass he did the service, impressing a friend of mine in as an alter boy for the first time in 10 years. Anyway, I can still see him kneeling as he passed the Host and a score or so of Catholic lawyers in training praying their hearts out that he would be able to rise. He was a sprightly 87 then.