Saint Joseph's University Announces 2012 Commencement Speakers

Thursday, March 22, 2012

PHILADELPHIA (March 22, 2012) – Saint Joseph’s University will grant honorary degrees to James J. Martin, S.J., author and culture editor of America,the national Catholic, Jesuit magazine, and Gregory J. Boyle, S.J., founder and executive director of Homeboy Industries of Los Angeles, the largest gang intervention and re-entry program in the nation, at the University’s 2012 Commencement ceremonies, which are set for Saturday, May 12. The graduate, doctoral and College of Professional and Liberal Studies ceremony will begin at 9 a.m., and the undergraduate ceremony will begin at 3 p.m. Both ceremonies will be held on the University’s Maguire Campus.

“This year’s honorary degree recipients exemplify an engaged Jesuit spirituality in action, bringing hope to all whom they encounter,” says John W. Smithson, interim president. “As the author of numerous, best-selling books, and as the culture editor of America, Fr. Martin brings Ignatian tenets to life for his readers in both practical and profound ways. Fr. Boyle, the founder and executive director of Homeboy Industries, ministers to at-risk, recently released and formerly gang-involved youth who wish to leave gang life and become contributing members of their communities. Both men are highly deserving of this recognition.”

Fr. Martin, who will speak at the undergraduate ceremony and will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business in 1982, where he received a bachelor’s degree in economics with a concentration in finance. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1988, after working for six years in corporate finance and human resources for General Electric Co. From 1990-92, he studied philosophy at Loyola University Chicago. He received a master’s degree in divinity and a master’s in theology from the Weston Jesuit School of Theology, and was ordained a Catholic priest in 1999.

 

In addition to his most recent book, Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor and Laughter Are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life (2011), Fr. Martin is the author of several other titles. Among them are the best-sellers, The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything (2010) and My Life with the Saints (2006), which received a 2007 Christopher Award, was named one of the Best Books of 2006 by Publishers Weekly, and received a First Place award from the Catholic Press Association. He is also the author of A Jesuit Off-Broadway: Center Stage with Jesus, Judas and Life’s Big Questions (2007),which was named one of the Best Books of 2007 by Publishers Weekly, and received a First Place award from the Catholic Press Association.

Fr. Martin has also written for major media outlets, including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, and has appeared in venues as diverse as NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross, Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report, and Fox News Channel’s The O’Reilly Factor. He is known popularly as the “official chaplain” of The Colbert Report. For his writings and various ministries, Fr. Martin has received Fordham University’s Gaudium et Spes Award, the Ignatian Volunteer Corps’s Madonna della Strada Award, and the Loyola Institute of Spirituality’s Writers’ Award. A native of Plymouth Meeting, Pa., he received an honorary doctor of divinity degree from Wagner College in Staten Island, N.Y., in 2007.

Fr. Boyle, who will speak at the graduate, doctoral and College of Professional and Liberal Studies ceremony, will receive a Doctor of Public Service. Through Homeboy Industries, he has been an advocate for at-risk and gang-involved youth in Los Angeles and around the world for more than 25 years. The organization’s nonprofit economic development enterprises include numerous successful businesses. Fr. Boyle’s first book, Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion (2010), received the 2010 Southern California Indie Booksellers Association Non-Fiction Book Award, was named one of the Best Books of 2010 by Publishers Weekly, and is the PEN USA 2011 Best Creative Nonfiction Book of the Year.

 

A Los Angeles native, Fr. Boyle entered the Society of Jesus upon graduating from Loyola High School in Los Angeles in 1972, and was ordained a Catholic priest in 1984.  He received a bachelor’s degree in English from Gonzaga University, a master’s degree in English from Loyola Marymount University, a master’s degree in divinity from the Weston School of Theology, and a sacred theology master’s degree from the Jesuit School of Theology.

The recipient of numerous honors and awards, Fr. Boyle was recently recognized by the National Child Labor Committee with the first Nancy M. Daly Advocacy Award for Service to Children and Youth, and by the Fathers and Family Coalition with the Making Children a Priority Award. He also received the Gaudium et Spes Award from Fordham University, and an honorary doctorate in humane letters from Salve Regina University in Newport, R. I., in 2011.  


Background

As Philadelphia's Jesuit Catholic University, founded by the Society of Jesus in 1851, Saint Joseph's University provides a rigorous, student-centered education rooted in the liberal arts. With a Phi Beta Kappa chapter in the College of Arts and Sciences and an AACSB-accredited Erivan K. Haub School of Business, Saint Joseph’s ranks as a top university in the Northeast. Offering courses on campus and online, SJU prepares its more than 9,000 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students to lead lives of personal excellence, professional success and engaged citizenship.



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