As of July 2023, Father James Martin Nobles, OP, is officially the new chaplain of the Church of the Incarnation and head of campus ministry at the University of Dallas.
Fr. James Martin said, “I’m very excited to be here at the University of Dallas. It’s really a privilege to take care of this precious gift. One of the things I most appreciate about the UD experience is that there’s just an overall sense of kindness, and I’ve certainly experienced that the last few weeks. Just the enormous generosity and kindness which our students and faculty and staff offer each other here at the university.”
The UD community is here to welcome Father James Martin as he fits into the groove of UD life.
Deacon Ryan Sales, faith formation and retreats minister, said: “First and foremost and contrary to what anyone would have thought, he is in fact louder than Fr. Joseph Paul. But in addition to being a big personality with an energy level to match, Fr. James Martin brings the enthusiasm of a new priest paired with a deeply pastoral heart.”
Karen Bless, RCIA coordinator and assistant to the chaplain and rector, said, “His very joyful and eager nature makes him a good fit for a college campus ministry. He’s only been ordained for two years, so he really has a lot of that new priest eagerness and I think he enjoys working with younger people.”
Fr. James Martin was born in southeast Louisiana but grew up in southwest Mississippi. He received a Catholic education through sixth grade, and in high school he began to develop a love for defending the faith.Fr. James Martin grew up during a charismatic movement in the church while living in a household and attending a parish that were more orthodox and conservative in nature.
He said, “My mother was also involved in the charismatic movement, so all my life I’ve had this identity of both being conservative in my theological views but also [embracing] this charismatic spirit as well.”
Fr. James Martin was ordained to the priesthood in 2021. His first assignment involved parish and chaplain ministry at a local Catholic high school in Memphis, Tennessee, and being rector of a national shrine to St. Martin de Porres. His second assignment is here at UD. Fr. James Martin lives in the Dominican novitiate house and is trying to be a role model for his brothers.
Fr. James Martin said: “Being 33 years old and trying to be a role model – I never thought that would happen. But God has called me to that relationship and that kind of vocation. So I’m happy to walk with our novice brothers who gave up everything – they gave up their families, their jobs, a lot of their freedoms to live here, and it’s a privilege to walk with them for this year of discernment.”
On Sunday, Aug. 25, Fr. James Martin led a procession after Mass to the Our Lady of Guadalupe shrine on campus to consecrate the coming academic year. He implemented a 40-hour Eucharistic devotional starting at 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 31.“I am game for piety. I am down to be pious for the Lord,” he said. “My primary mission is really to support the Catholic mission and vision that President Sanford has set forth for the university as not being something that’s on the fringe of the campus and its identity but really being at the heart and soul of the campus,” he said.
This emphasis on UD’s Catholic identity is reflected in the university’s updated branding.
“It has not gone past me that in the rebranding of the university, the new logo, the simplified logo, is the symbol that the Church of the Incarnation has used for decades. We quite literally are repositioning ourselves to be focused on the Incarnation and on what the Incarnation means for [us] in the here and now.”
Campus Ministry plays a vital role in the spiritual health of the university and Fr. James Martin and Sales are anticipating a fruitful year for the spiritual growth of the student body.
Sales said: “[Fr. James Martin and I] can only do so much, and we rely so much on the amazing lay staff members – Shelby and Karen and the FOCUS missionaries. With this team in place, you will see more opportunities to deepen and grow your faith through prayer and liturgies, more involvement by campus ministers in the life of the university, and even greater accompaniment through the ups and downs of college life.”
Fr. James Martin continues to make his transition to life at UD and Sales asks that the UD community keep Fr. James Martin in their prayers as he adjusts to this new role at the university.