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The Rev. Joseph C. Martin, Leading Authority on Alcoholism and Addiction Treatment, Dies at 84
Date:3/9/2009

Catholic Priest Co-Founded Father Martin's Ashley Treatment Center in Maryland

HAVRE DE GRACE, Md., March 9 /PRNewswire/ -- The Rev. Joseph C. Martin, S.S., noted authority and lecturer on alcoholism who co-founded Father Martin's Ashley, an addiction treatment center in Havre de Grace, MD, died today at his home in Havre de Grace. He was 84.

Best known for his lectures on alcoholism as a disease, delivered to alcoholics and their families with his charismatic style and sense of humor, Fr. Martin is credited with saving the lives of thousands of alcoholics and addicts. While he retired from active management in 2003, he continued to lecture at Father Martin's Ashley, addressing patients as recently as November 2008.

"Today, the entire treatment community mourns the loss of an icon," said the Rev. Mark Hushen, president and chief executive officer of Father Martin's Ashley. "The death of Father Martin marks the end of an era.

"His world renowned 'Chalk Talk on Alcohol' changed the lives of thousands of recovering alcoholics," Hushen said. "His humor and spirituality infused his teachings with hope. He believed in the innate dignity of the human person and founded Father Martin's Ashley as an oasis where alcoholics and addicts could heal."

Fr. Martin's "Chalk Talk on Alcohol" lecture, which began: "I'm Joe Martin, and I'm an alcoholic," and more than 40 motivational films, are legendary. His films, which have been translated into multiple languages, continue to be used at treatment centers around the world, in hospitals, substance abuse programs, industry, and most branches of the U.S. government. He is the author of several publications, including Chalk Talks on Alcohol, published by Harper & Row in 1982, which is still in print.

Fr. Martin and Father Martin's Ashley co-founder Mae Abraham raised funds to buy and renovate Oakington, the estate owned by the widow of U.S. Senator Millard Tydings located on the Chesapeake Bay near Havre de Grace. The center, which opened in 1983, has since provided treatment to more than 40,000 people suffering from the disease of addiction and has provided program services to their families. Two years after Father Martin's Ashley opened its doors, Forbes magazine ranked it as one of the top ten addiction treatment facilities in the country. Today, patients come from the East Coast and across the U.S. to the 85-bed facility, which has a reputation for treating alcohol and drug addiction and relapse with respect for the dignity of each individual who enters its doors.

In 1972, the U.S. Navy filmed Martin's "The Blackboard Talk," which they then dubbed "The Chalk Talk." It became known throughout the U.S. military and established Fr. Martin as a recognized leader in the addiction treatment field.

In 1991, Fr. Martin was invited by Pope John Paul II to participate in the Vatican's International Conference on Drugs and Alcohol. He made four trips to Russia under the auspices of the International Institute on Alcohol Education and Training, and also traveled to Switzerland and Poland to speak to Alcoholics Anonymous groups as well as to addiction counselors in training.

Fr. Martin's honors and awards include the Andrew White Medal from Loyola College, Baltimore, for his contributions to the general welfare of the citizenry of Maryland; Rutgers University's Summer School of Alcohol Studies' Distinguished Service Award (1988); and Norman Vincent Peale Award (1992).

Born the fourth of seven children in Baltimore on October 12, 1924, Fr. Martin graduated from Loyola High School in 1942, where he was valedictorian. He then attended Loyola College (1942-44). He studied for the priesthood at St. Mary's Seminary and St. Mary's Roland Park in Baltimore (1944-48), and was ordained a priest of the Society of Saint Sulpice, whose mission is to train and educate seminarians, in 1948.

Fr. Martin held teaching positions at St. Joseph's College in Mountain View, CA (1948-56) and St. Charles College, Catonsville, MD (1956-59).

In 1958, Fr. Martin began his recovery from alcoholism. Following treatment, he worked as a lecturer and educator in the Division of Alcohol Control for the state of Maryland prior to founding Father Martin's Ashley.

"As Father Martin passes through death to life, his legacy lives on at Ashley as we continue his mission of hope and healing," said Fr. Hushen. "Truly, the world is a better place for his having been here."

Fr. Martin is survived by Mae and Tommy Abraham, with whom he lived for more than 30 years, siblings Dorothy, Frances, and Edward; and numerous nieces, nephews, and their children.

The viewing will be held on Thursday, March 12, from 1 pm to 9 pm at St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore. Fr. Martin's Mass of Celebration of the Resurrection will be held on Friday, March 13 at 10 am at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Cathedral Street, Baltimore, MD. Interment will be private.

Expressions of remembrance may be e-mailed to ashley.marketing@fmashley.com or mailed to Father Martin Remembrance, Father Martin's Ashley, 800 Tydings Lane, Havre de Grace, MD 21078. They will be posted on the Father Martin's Ashley Web site at www.fathermartinsashley.org.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Father Martin's Ashley treatment center, 800 Tydings Lane, Havre de Grace, MD 21078 or to The Associated Sulpicians of the U.S., 5408 Roland Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21210.

    CONTACT:
    Lisa Bucklin Williams
    Director of Marketing and Public Relations
    Father Martin's Ashley
    Phone: 410-273-2220
    Email: lbucklin@fmashley.com


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SOURCE Father Martin's Ashley
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