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In Memoriam

Let us pray in thanksgiving for the life of Br. John P. Martin, SJ, who died on April 24, 2024 at Colombiere Center in Clarkston, Michigan. He was 86 years old. May he rest in peace.
Jack is preceded in death by his brother, James Martin. He is survived by his sister, Mary Martin.

Jack was born on June 30, 1937 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Before entering the Society, he graduated from St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati. After six months of postulancy, Jack entered the Chicago Province of the Society of Jesus on March 11, 1956 at the Novitiate of the Sacred Heart in Milford, Ohio. He pronounced final vows on August 15, 1968 at St. Xavier High School.

Jack spent the first twelve years in the Society as a cook and refectorian (i.e., caring for the dining room) at: the Jesuit novitiate in Milford, Ohio (1955-1962); the retreat houses located near the novitiate in Milford, Ohio — Men of Milford Retreat House and the Youth Retreat House (1955-1962); West Baden College in West Baden Springs, Indiana (1962-1964); and Bellarmine School of Theology in North Aurora, Illinois (1964-1967).

Jack was then missioned to his alma mater, St. Xavier High School, where he was the secretary to the assistant principal for discipline for almost two decades (1967-1986).

After a well-earned sabbatical, in 1987 Jack decided to more closely accompany the poor and needy by ministering at Mary Magdalen House, an organization that provides showers, clean clothing, and connection to community/social resources, in the Over-the-Rhine region of Cincinnati. Jack worked at Mary Magdalen House for twenty-six years, ten of which he was the director (1987-1997).

In 2013, Jack was missioned to pray for the Church and the Society at Colombiere Center in Clarkston, Michigan.

Jack was a devoted Jesuit who drew his strength from the Eucharist. Jesus was the center of his life, but Jack also had a special devotion to Jesus’ parents, Joseph and Mary, and prayed to them often. Jack strove to live his life as a follower of Jesus and the Gospels and, through his words and actions, helped others to encounter Jesus.

Early on in his Jesuit life, Jack took the words of Matthew’s Gospel to heart:

Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me…And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:34-36;40)

Jack was able to find Jesus in everyone he encountered: in the Jesuits and retreatants he fed, in the students at St. Xavier High School, and in the poor and homeless to whom he provided clean clothes, food, and a warm welcome. Jack saw the dignity of each person and treated them as he would treat Jesus — with loving kindness, patience, and caring for their personal needs.

Jack enjoyed engaging people about many topics, but truly enjoyed talking with people about trains. Jack loved trains and was fascinated by all aspects of the railway system. He knew the history of the railroads, was fascinated by the different types of engines and cars, and speculated on the future of trains in the USA. He was happiest watching trains pass by (and counting the number of cars the engine pulled), riding on trains, or talking about the railway system with others. Some years ago, Jack was ecstatic when a good friend gave him the gift of being able to ride on seven antique trains — including some open-aired cars drawn by coal powered engines.