Fr. Joseph C. Martin, RIP
I hadn’t heard of the Sulpician priest Joseph Martin until I read his obituary in the New York Times today. But he is another example of a priest who used the moral authority of his position — and his own experience of being human — to make Christ known in the world.
The Rev. Joseph C. Martin, whose battle with alcoholism inspired him to become a national leader in the fight against the disease by speaking, writing books, making videos and starting a treatment center, died March 9 at his home in Havre de Grace, Md. He was 84.
…Father Martin first became widely known through a talk he gave on the 12 steps of recovery propounded by Alcoholics Anonymous. He sometimes began with a preface similar to the one every alcoholic uses to address meetings of the organization, changing it to give his full name: “My name is Joe Martin, and I’m an alcoholic.”
In talking about the many lives Fr. Martin touched in his ministry, the article quotes one woman who recalled her reaction after hearing him speak: “He removed the shame from me.” If that’s not acting in persona Christi, I don’t know what is.
I don’t know whether Fr. Martin was Irish (he sure looks it!), but of course, you don’t have to be Irish to identify with his family history of alcohol abuse and be grateful for his witness in recovery. Reading his story on the eve of St. Patrick’s Day reminds me to pray for the intercession of my own favorite Irish saint, Venerable Matt Talbot, that everyone who struggles with addiction may find the path to wholeness and know that they are loved.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everybody. Have fun, and be safe!