Seminarian welcomed by Oxford, St. John

Published 6:30 pm Wednesday, June 28, 2023

By Bryce Newsom

Oxford is no stranger to new faces. They are a consistent tradition: from brand new students to learning priests still in seminary, both of whom are trying to get their bearings.

Seminarian EJ Martin, a former financial economics student, is learning his way around Ole Miss day by day, and sat down with the Oxford Eagle to discuss his experience learning under Fr. Mark Shoffner at St. John the Evangelist Church so far this spring.

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“I didn’t realize it, but this town is growing like crazy,” Martin said. “It’s been very welcoming and lively.”

Commenting on how different the college experience is at Ole Miss as opposed to Notre Dame Seminary, Martin noted, “The average age is much younger here than at the seminary, and there’s much more green space, much larger campus.”

“I’ve enjoyed golfing the Ole Miss golf course, reading, and studying history,” Martin said of his new home. He lives in the upstairs section of the new rectory that was built for Fr. Mark.

A local parishioner was his Spanish teacher at St. Joseph Catholic School in Madison, when he was in high school, and that connection was a particularly warm welcome at his new parish.

The 30-year old seminarian easily relates to many of the students he finds walking around the campus. Martin and Fr. Mark Shoffner often walk the path from St John’s to Oxford Square in order to meet parishioners along the way. Naturally warm and personable, Martin has quickly made friends in Oxford and is anxious to build more relationships.

In short, Martin said he feels compelled and called to “give back” and credits Fr. Mark as a “great teacher” in that endeavor.