Saturday, February 11, 2006

Father Norman F. Martin, S.J., 1914-2006.

Yesterday I received word that Father Norman Martin, a Jesuit I lived with at Santa Clara, died last Sunday at the age of 91. Fine tributes to Father Martin may be read on the SCU website and in yesterday's San Jose Mercury-News. A fixture at Santa Clara for over half a century, Father Martin arrived at the university as a freshman in 1933 and entered the Society of Jesus two years later. After completing his Jesuit formation and earning a doctorate in Mexican history, Father Martin returned to his alma mater in the 1950's and spent the rest of his life there, first as a professor and then as an employee of the university development office. Father Martin enjoyed friendships with several generations of Santa Clara alumni, becoming a member of many families he had served and gotten to know over the years. These words quoted in his Mercury-News obituary could serve as a fitting epitaph: "Every one of those people I loved and understood and became a part of their lives, part of their accomplishments, part of their laughter, part of their tears." The relationships Father Martin built through his lifelong association with Santa Clara defined his life.

Though I only got to know Norman Martin in the last year of his life, he made a strong impression on me. He was one of my favorite people in the Jesuit community at Santa Clara, an unfailingly generous, kind and patient person and a genuine 'man for others.' At age 90, he swam every morning in the university's outdoor pool before working from 9-to-5 in the development office and then returned to the Jesuit residence for Mass and dinner. After dinner, he would often work a few more hours in his room at the residence, keeping up a voluminous correspondence that included scores of birthday cards, notes of congratulation and sympathy and letters to countless Santa Clara alumni. Father Martin truly cherished the relationships he'd enjoyed throughout his long life and would often share stories about the many people whose lives had touched his, from Santa Clara students and their families to friends and fellow Jesuits he had known during youthful studies in Latin America. As one whose life was touched by Father Martin, I'm grateful for having known him and for his influence on my own developing Jesuit vocation. May he rest in peace, and may he continue to bless all who remember him. AMDG.


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