Father TJ Martinez, SJ

Fr. TJ Martinez, SJ - 1970-2014

Dear Cristo Rey Jesuit Community,

It is with a heavy heart that I write to you today to share with you the difficult news of the passing of our beloved Founding President, Father TJ Martinez, SJ.

Our thoughts are with you and your families as together we grieve this tremendous loss. We know that Fr. Martinez was so many things to so many people, and that each person who had the honor of knowing him – whether as a spiritual leader, mentor, role model, or friend – was better for it.

Under the leadership of the Jesuits, Father Martinez and his core team have grown Cristo Rey Jesuit’s student population from 80 to nearly 500; added 150 blue-ribbon corporations so that every student has a job; purchased a nine acre embattled facility and renovated it into an architectural award-winning 21st century educational institution; and graduated two classes of seniors, all of whom have been accepted into college.

It is an understatement to say that Cristo Rey Jesuit was Fr. Martinez’s pride and joy. Addressing the crowd of students, faculty, staff, and families gathered at an award reception in the Cristo Rey Jesuit gym last March, Father encapsulated this sentiment in the powerful way that only he could: “You guys are the highlight of my life and I will live and die with my favorite story being you and this school.”

These words are a testament to Fr. Martinez’s lasting impact on each of us, and I feel that the best expression of our gratitude to him is to build upon the legacy that he so lovingly created. I have the utmost faith in the entire Cristo Rey Jesuit community to carry on Fr. Martinez’s inextinguishable torch.

Viva Father TJ Martinez! Viva Cristo Rey Jesuit!

Paul Posoli

Paul Posoli
Interim President

Ad majorem Dei gloriam
For the greater glory of God

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An Unexpected Visit

God works in mysterious ways!  The following article ran in the fall issue of the University of Notre Dame Magazine and tells the story of human connection through faith.  The young man in the story, James Hairston, is the nephew of a generous Cristo Rey Jesuit supporter and was introduced to Fr. Martinez this fall.  Let us all be grateful for the joy that God continues to give us all.  Viva Cristo Rey Jesuit!


An Unexpected Visit 

The urgency in the young man’s voice — plus the two questions he asked — immediately grabbed my attention.

At the time, I was part of a group of family and friends with Notre Dame loyalties, standing near the players’ tunnel outside Notre Dame Stadium. It was the early evening of August 30 — a short while after the Irish won their 2014 football season opener against Rice University. Involved in another conversation, I heard the young man’s voice before I saw him. In a tone that was both polite and urgent, he asked someone in our group about the location of the Grotto.

Turning toward him, I saw that he was a blond, athletic guy in a warm-up suit with a distinctive, scripted “R” — for Rice — on his jacket. But most of all, I noticed the combination of concern and desire that marked his face as he asked, “Do you think I can get there and back in 20 minutes?”— the time he said he had before the Rice team buses would be ready to leave from the stadium.

It struck me that he didn’t just want to get to the Grotto, he needed to get there. As someone who believes my life has been blessed by the intercession of Mary, I felt touched by that need. And so, in a split-second reaction that I can only credit to the Holy Spirit, I told the young man, “Let’s go. I’ll take you there.” Then we both began running. I just hoped I could keep up with him.

As we ran, he told me his name was James Hairston. When I asked him if he had played in the game that afternoon, he said he was the kicker for Rice. I mentioned that I noticed that he had made the sign of the cross every time he kicked during the game. He said he’s “a devout Catholic,” and had graduated from a Catholic high school in Dallas. Then he shared the two reasons he desperately wanted to visit the Grotto — reasons that nearly stopped me in my tracks.

“I have a special devotion to the Blessed Mother,” he said. As we kept stride, he shared with me that his mother had died of skin cancer when he was 13, and how her death had devastated him. James also said that shortly after his mother’s death, the Blessed Mother appeared to him in a vision and told him that she would be his mother from that moment.

He then talked about how much it would mean to him to light a candle at the Grotto for his mother and the Blessed Mother.

As we continued running, he noticed a side view of the Blessed Mother atop Notre Dame’s Golden Dome and exclaimed, “That’s so beautiful!” He asked if I had graduated from Notre Dame. I told him long ago, and that one of our sons was a graduate, too, and our daughter was a senior there this year.

“I would have loved to come here,” James said.

Soon, we were at the side steps leading down to the Grotto, a setting that has long been a touchstone in my life. And when we stood in front of the shrine, James’ face lit up.

Before going inside the railing to light a candle, James handed me his smart phone and asked me to take some pictures to preserve this moment. Knowing my inexperience with camera phones, I approached someone younger standing nearby.

As James lit a candle for his mother and the Blessed Mother, he was so focused on what he was doing that he never looked in the direction of the camera. He moved to the prayer railing in front of the shrine, pulled a small statue of the Blessed Mother from his backpack, placed it on the railing, and began to pray. Every move he made was touched with an earnest love and reverence.

When James finished his prayers and rose from the kneeling pad, his face beamed with peace and joy. Before we left the Grotto, James looked around one more time. It was clear the difference a few minutes there had made.

During our return to the stadium, he talked about how life is sometimes a struggle. He mentioned helping to lead a teammate to God. James shared a recent conversation he had with a priest from his high school days who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. He revealed how the priest told him how grateful to God he is for all the joy he has been given in life. James also noted that he wears a brown scapular the priest gave him.

Sharing one more story, James described the horrible car accident that his younger brother was in earlier this year — and how his brother came out of the wreck without a cut or injury.

“I think your mother and the Blessed Mother took care of him,” I said. James agreed.

As we neared the stadium, James stopped to give me his e-mail address and to type mine into his phone so we could keep in touch. Moments later, we were back near the players’ tunnel. I prepared to give James a quick goodbye, knowing he needed to rejoin his teammates and coaches. Instead, he asked, “Do you have time to pray?” I said, “Sure.” As he began a Hail Mary, our voices soon blended. When we finished the prayer, James continued, thanking God and the Blessed Mother for the time we shared, for the blessings of life.

Standing there together, I thought about how just 20 minutes earlier James and I were strangers. Now, we were connected forever by the grace of Mary. When it came time to say goodbye, we hugged.

As I headed to meet with family and friends, I kept thinking of James, his mother and the Blessed Mother. I kept thinking of how his two mothers must be filled with joy, pride and love for their son.

Less than an hour later, James sent me an e-mail. It read, “I will never forget that moment.”

Neither will I.

John Shaughnessy is a Notre Dame graduate and the author of When God Cheers, The Irish Way of Life and One More Gift to Give. He’s also the assistant editor of The Criterion, the newspaper for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

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Continued prayers from around the world for Father TJ!

The prayers for Father TJ continue to flood into Houston, Texas from people and places near and far.  We thank you for all of your thoughts, prayers, and efforts for Father Martinez and the Cristo Rey Jesuit community.  Pictured below are just a few of the many wonderful notes, emails, pictures, and letters that we’ve received in the past few weeks!  Keep the prayers coming!  Viva Cristo Rey Jesuit!

A representative of the St. Peter Claver community in Nairobi, where Father visited during his tertianship in Fall 2014.

A representative of the St. Peter Claver community in Nairobi, where Father visited during his tertianship in Fall 2014.

Participants of the Notre Dame Vita Institute pose with their Fr. TJ bracelets as Rodarte’s “The Thinker” to show they are thinking of Fr. TJ!

A home-made Fr. TJ bracelet made by a Washington DC Vacation Bible Study class taught by fellow Boston College alum Linda Keuter, after a lesson to her students in "Trusting God".

A homemade Fr. TJ bracelet made by a Washington DC Vacation Bible Study class after a lesson in “Trusting God”. The class is taught by fellow Boston College alum Linda Keuter.”

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Mass of the Holy Spirit


Rev. TJ Martinez, Most Rev. Joseph Fiorenza, & Mr. Paul Posoli kick-off the new school year at the Mass of the Holy Spirit

Fr. Martinez surprised the Cristo Rey Jesuit community at the Mass of the Holy Spirit by concelebrating  with the Most Reverend Joseph A. Fiorenza, Archbishop Emeritus of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and several other members of the Jesuit community.

Father rallied his energy in his signature style to give a hug to every student and family member he could!

photo 3 (1)photo 4 (2)

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Sequent Believes!

Sequent 1 (1)
As Cristo Rey Jesuit students head back to work this week, we are so grateful for the huge Houston community who continues to send their prayers, love and support to Fr. Martinez.  Thank you to the team at Sequent, pictured here with Jessie Quintanilla, Class of 2014, for sending this wonderful photo!
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A Very Happy Feast Day!

(from left to right) Rev. Tim Mannatt, SJ, Rev. TJ Martinez, SJ, Rev. Brian Reedy, SJ

Last week Fr. Martinez celebrated the Feast Day of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus, with a surprise visit to Cristo Rey Jesuit to concelebrate Mass alongside presider Fr. Tim Mannatt, SJ (President of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Minneapolis, MN) and concelebrant Fr. Brian Reedy, SJ.  Together with faculty and staff, we asked to find God in all things this upcoming school year.  Viva Cristo Rey Jesuit!

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