Author of Chalk Talk and Alcoholism Treatment and Recovery
It is rare to see a true hero today, one who inspires service, sacrifice, hope and healing. Father Joseph Martin was that hero for millions of recovering alcoholics.
Joseph Martin was born on October 12, 1924 in Baltimore, Maryland, and passed March 9, 2009.
In 1942, Father Martin graduated from Loyola College and entered St. Mary's seminary. He was ordained a priest in 1948 and became a Sulpician -- a highly regarded teaching society within the Catholic Church.
“My Name is Joe Martin, and I'm an Alcoholic.”
Father Joseph Martin first uttered this statement in 1958. After ten years of alcoholic drinking with accompanying problems and consequences he entered into Guest House in Michigan, a treatment facility for the clergy for treatment of his alcoholism. His recovery was a true turning point in his life, and the start of a long career where his one goal was to help the suffering alcoholic and their families.
He became enthusiastic for his recovery and to help spread sobriety to others, and with his passion for teaching began a lifelong dedication to ease the suffering of individuals and families affected by addiction.
Chalk Talk -- the Classic
He once said that he started in the field almost by accident. He had no plans to go into alcoholism treatment, but he had some notes because of his own recovery and he used them for a talk on one occasion. The Navy filmed it, and that was “Chalk Talk” the first of his many highly recognized presentations. It became an instant success and was used in treatment programs around the country. He went on to publish the book "Chalk Talks on Alcohol" in 1982, and in total has had more than 40 motivational films to his credit.
He was a gifted speaker. Millions fondly recall his special story-telling ability and wonderful sense of humor. He inspired love, service, helpfulness to others, and recovery. While alcoholism is a serious subject, he thought that laughter was the best approach to reach the sick. He gave hope to countless alcoholics.
According to an article “Leader in Fight Against Alcoholism Founded Father Martin's Ashley in Harford County” (Frederick N. Rasmussen, BaltimoreSun.com, March 10, 2009), Father Martin liked to say, "Give me a blackboard, a piece of chalk and a bunch of drunks and I'm at home.” He has done more to educate and treat those suffering from addiction than anyone else in the past 50 years.
A Focus on Addictions
He was a recognized and celebrated speaker and educator and had international acclaim. He provided consultant services for the government, the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. He was a strong supporter of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. He founded Kelly Productions in 1972. He helped to raise funds and in 1983 co-founded with Mae Abraham Father Martin's Ashley rehabilitation center (providing treatment to more than 40,000 people dealing with alcoholism and addiction.)
According to Kelly Productions, Inc., he was recipient of the Andrew White medal in 1986 from Loyola College, the 1988 Rutgers Summer School of Alcohol Studies Distinguished Service Award, and the Norman Vincent Peale Award in 1992. He was even invited by Pope John Paul II in 1991 to participate in the Vatican's International Conference on Drugs and Alcohol, and he traveled around the world to speak and train on the addictions.
In 2008 he marked his 50th year in recovery and 60th year as a priest. He captured the minds and hearts of millions of people. He died at age 84 of heart failure at his home in Havre de Grace, Md.
He will forever be remembered for service, sacrifice, and healing. According to Kelly Productions, he once said, “I’ll die with a piece of chalk in my hands, talking with a bunch of drunks and addicts.” Fr. Joseph Martin is a true hero who will be greatly missed.