Dr. John Martens Named Inaugural Director of the Centre for Christian Engagement at St. Mark’s College, UBC

The Centre for Christian Engagement seeks to create a culture of encounter and dialogue by creating opportunities to address the challenges associated with the disengagement of Christians from the Church and the life of faith.

Vancouver, BC – July 29, 2021. Following a lengthy and thorough international search, St. Mark's College at UBC is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. John Martens as the inaugural Director of the Centre for Christian Engagement.

Currently a Professor of Theology and Director of the Masters in Theology program at the University of St. Thomas and St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity in Minnesota, USA, Dr. Martens will bring his expertise as a teacher, researcher, administrator and theologian to this position.

The Centre for Christian Engagement at St. Mark’s College was launched in May 2019. Its mission is to create a culture of community and dialogue by providing opportunities to address the challenges of Christians disengaging from the Church and the life of faith. The Centre for Christian Engagement was established through generous donations from The Archdiocese of Vancouver, Peter Bull, Angus Reid and Andy Szocs.

“I am eager to pass on the teaching of the Catholic tradition not just to those engaged with the Church, but those who have disengaged from the Church. It is important for me to see the outreach of the Centre for Christian Engagement includes a process of listening to all people, young, middle-aged, and older, many of whom have become alienated from the Church,” remarked Dr. Martens.

The hiring committee was drawn to Dr. Martens’ important academic work and his sincere devotion to engaging with the community. “The need to meet and to engage people where they are has always driven my public theology,” continued Dr. Martens.

His main areas of academic focus are the writing of the New Testament and Second Temple Judaism, especially the Gospels and letters of Paul. For over 10 years he has written for America Magazine, been a regular guest on Spirit Radio Network, and published his own Bible blog to present Catholic biblical scholarship in a serious, accessible and inviting manner. Martens also started a crisis line for the Salvation Army when he worked in Winnipeg, using media relations to get the word out about the work being done in crisis intervention and suicide prevention.

“I am excited to serve the Colleges and to be given the opportunity to engage people with the Gospel in humility and with a listening heart and mind. I am humbled to be given this opportunity at such a challenging time in the life of the Church in BC and Canada due to further revelations regarding the residential schools in Canada. It is my hope that the Centre can be a place for listening, learning, and growth and that the Catholic intellectual tradition, in which St. Mark's College is grounded, in its depth and beauty can help foster reconciliation and joy,” said Dr. Martens.

Dr. Martens will join the Community of St. Mark’s at UBC in August and begin his work building the Centre for Christian Engagement, which will host events this Fall.

“It is a special pleasure to welcome John and his family to our community,” said Dr. Michael W. Higgins, President and Vice Chancellor, St. Mark’s College at UBC. “His experience, learning, warm personality and solid commitment to Catholic intellectual and spiritual life combine to make him an ideal leader for the Centre for Christian Engagement.  We have an exciting inaugural year ahead of us and we are thrilled to have John at the helm."




St. Mark's College is a member of the Community of St. Mark's at UBC, which comprises St. Mark's College, Corpus Christi College, and St. Mark's Parish. As the affiliated Catholic Theological College of the University of British Columbia (UBC), St. Mark's College offers a variety of academic programs and continuing education opportunities for Catholics and non-Catholics. Together with Corpus Christi College, St. Mark's College is a centre of excellence for undergraduate and graduate Catholic education in British Columbia.

St. Mark's is committed to promoting authentic Christian humanism, marked by the pursuit of academic excellence and animated by the joy of searching for, discovering, and communicating truth in every field of knowledge. The College prepares graduates who continually strive to integrate and synthesize faith and reason so that they will serve society charged with a commitment to think rigorously, to act justly and to serve faithfully.

The College offers programs that are grounded in the Catholic intellectual and moral tradition, including a Bachelor of Arts in Theology and Culture and Master's degrees in Religious Education, Theological Studies, Pastoral Studies and Catholic Leadership.


Christina Dumont, Communications, St. Mark’s College at UBC

[email protected], 604-822-5514


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