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June 2015

James Martin, S.J., 2015 commencement speaker

James Martin, S.J., 2015 commencement speaker

Be the Self God Wants You to Be, but Don’t be a Jerk, James Martin, S.J., Tells Santa Clara University Class of 2015.

Popular Catholic author and commentator offered life lessons and laughs to 1,300 graduates

In a speech that sounded straight out of “The Colbert Report,” nationally known Jesuit, Catholic author and commentator James Martin, S.J., entertained and inspired the Santa Clara University Class of 2015.

SANTA CLARA, Calif., June 13, 2015-   In a speech that sounded straight out of “The Colbert Report,” where he was a frequent guest, nationally known Jesuit, Catholic author and commentator James Martin, S.J., entertained and inspired the Santa Clara University graduating class Saturday morning, with advice that was part pastoral, part comedic. 

“I look forward to seeing you at our 50th reunion,” he said to the delighted graduates, saying that his newly bestowed honorary doctorate of religion and culture made him a member of the Santa Clara University Class of 2015. “You will be a spry 71, and I’ll be 104.”

A video containing highlights of the address and commencement festivities is here.

Kicking off the first of ten life lessons for the graduates assembled on Buck Shaw Field, Martin declared, “you’re not God; this isn’t heaven; and don’t be an ass,” to a burst of laughter. He said even when life is at its most aggravating and burdensome,  “you can be sad and disappointed and angry, and you can share your struggles with your friends, but you don't have to pass on your anger….it doesn’t mean you have to act like a jerk."

Fr. Martin was perhaps best known as the “Chaplain of the Colbert Nation,” a recurring guest on the Comedy Central show "The Colbert Report," which ended its run last year. Martin is editor at large of America Magazine, the national Catholic weekly with 45,000 subscribers. His articles and commentary have also run in publications including Commonweal, The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Time magazine, as well as on CNN, NPR, and other broadcast media.

Quoting (occasionally dubiously) from the words of Jesus and others, Martin urged the graduates to live out their deepest desires, which he said are also “God’s desire for you.” Other good life  lessons, he said, are to stop trying to get others’ approval or comparing yourself to others, which he said “leads to despair.”

After reminding the crowd to great applause that each one of them is a “beautiful creation of God,” and “being holy means being you,” he deadpanned “Remember this: God does not make crap….in the words of Jesus...more or less.”

An award-winning author of several books and a bestselling memoir, Martin received his bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, and entered the Jesuit Order after working for six years with General Electric. He received his master’s degree in divinity and in theology from the Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, now part of the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry.

He ended his speech "In the words of Jesus Christ, 'Go Broncos!'"

Michel ’60 and Mary Orradre, friends and benefactors of Santa Clara University’s academic endeavors, also received honorary doctorates of public service during the ceremony, for their expansive support of education and preservation of California history.  Internationally recognized sculptor and SCU supporter Fletcher Benton also received an honorary doctorate in fine arts.

Valedictorian Hannah Maryanski, an environmental studies and English major, recapped for her classmates the hidden lessons from SCU’s physical spaces, and said, ”may we always remember the examples of St. Ignatius and St. Clare as we become leaders in a world with a growing economy, in a society that fights for equity, and in a culture desirous to live sustainably on a strained planet.”

Santa Clara University’s undergraduate Class of 2015 comprised nearly 1,300 students, ranging in age from 19 to 65 -- 52 percent of whom are women, 48 percent men. Ethnically, the class identified as White (51%); Hispanic (18%); Asian (13%); Two or more races (6%); and Black (3%).

About Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California’s Silicon Valley, offers its more than 9,000 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, and engineering; master’s degrees in business, education, counseling psychology, pastoral ministry, and theology; and law degrees and engineering Ph.D.s. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master’s universities, California’s oldest operating higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. For more information, see

Media Contact
Deborah Lohse | SCU Media Relations |  | (408) 554-5121

A transcript of Fr. Martin's speech is available here.


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