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Jim Forest, 1968 and Today

A Tale of Two Kidneys

A diary of Jim’s kidney transplant from Nancy

New Books by Jim Forest

New and Revised Edition of Praying with Icons by Jim Forest

Released spring, 2008

The Road to Emmaus: Pilgrimage as a Way of Life

Released summer, 2007

Jim, due to a kidney illness, is unable to travel and tour promoting his new book. Please check on the link above for a description, how to order it and review it.

Jim Forest gave a presentation at the Catholic Peace Fellowship, a peace group he co-founded in the 1960s. While in the USA he gave the Maryknoll lecture. His lecture was called The Road to Emmaus: Pilgrimage as a Way of Life. It contains material from his upcoming book by the same name. Links: For text of the lecture • For video.

For a copy of Jim’s talk at the Catholic Peace Fellowship conference, Learning to be Peacemakers click here.


1968: From the Milwaukee 14 Statement at the time of the action

James Forest, 27, is co-chairman of the Catholic Peace Fellowship. After receiving a conscientious objection discharge from the Navy in 1961, he joined the staff of the New York Catholic Worker house of hospitality, and later was managing editor of The Catholic Worker. He has contributed to several books, was co-editor of A Penny a Copy: Readings From the Catholic Worker, and has written for numerous periodicals.

Today: A brief biography by Jim Forest


Jim Forest Today

Jim Forest’s activity as a writer began in New Jersey at age five, in 1946, when he produced a handwritten family newspaper using an alphabet of his own design. It was an excellent publication whose only shortcoming was that no one could read it. A few years after achieving literacy, he was often found hanging around office of the town’s weekly newspaper, watching linotypers setting type from molten zinc. Before long he was hawking The Red Bank Register on Broad Street, delivering papers door to door, and starting his own mimeographed publication using an alphabet that others could read.

His engagement in Christianity began about the same time that he was selling newspapers. At age 12 he was baptized in an Episcopal parish in Shrewsbury, New Jersey, though it wasn’t until he was in the U.S. Navy, stationed in Washington and working at the U.S. Weather Bureau, that he began to see life his vocation in religious terms. In 1960, he joined the Catholic Church. His religious life took another turn in 1988 when he and his wife, Nancy, were received into the Orthodox Church. He is now secretary of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship and edits its publication, In Communion.

In 1961, after obtaining an early discharge from the Navy on grounds of conscientious objection, he joined the Catholic Worker community, led by Dorothy Day, in New York City; during that period of his life he became managing editor of The Catholic Worker. Later he was a reporter a New York City daily newspaper, The Staten Island Advance, and worked part-time for Religious News Service, a press bureau. From the mid-seventies, he edited Fellowship, magazine of the Fellowship of Reconciliation. After moving to Europe, he was editor of Reconciliation International.

Another dimension of Jim’s life has been peace work. In the late sixties, Jim was responsible for Vietnam program activities of the Fellowship of Reconciliation. One aspect of his FOR work was to travel with and assist Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese Buddhist monk and poet. In 1969–70, Jim was imprisoned for thirteen months as a consequence of his involvement in the “Milwaukee Fourteen,” a group of Catholic priests and lay people who burned draft records. After leaving prison, he was a member of the Emmaus Community in East Harlem, New York.

In 1973, he became publications director for the Fellowship of Reconciliation. In 1977, he moved to Holland to head the staff of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation. He was IFOR’s General Secretary for twelve years.

In connection with work on two books about Russian religious life, Jim traveled widely throughout the former USSR. His experiences in Russia were a factor in his becoming an Orthodox Christian.

Jim is the author of many books, most recently Praying with Icons and The Ladder of the Beatitudes. Confession: Doorway to Forgiveness will be published by Orbis books in February 2002. Jim is currently at work on a book about the resurrection of the Orthodox Church in Albania. Earlier work includes Living With Wisdom: a biography of Thomas Merton; Love is the Measure: a Biography of Dorothy Day; Religion in the New Russia; Pilgrim to the Russian Church; Making Friends of Enemies; The Whale’s Tale; The Tale of the Turnip; and Four Days in February. With Tom Cornell and Robert Ellsberg, he edited A Penny a Copy: Readings from The Catholic Worker. An autobiographical essay is included in Toward the Authentic Church. Translations of his books have been published in Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Swedish, Danish, Polish, Korean and Russian.

An occasional teacher, in the early seventies Jim lectured at the New York Theological Seminary and the College of New Rochelle. In 1985, he taught at the Ecumenical Institute, Tantur, near Jerusalem, and in 1999 was part of the summer faculty of the Department of Religion at the University of Dayton.

Jim has led retreats in the USA and England and has lectured at hundreds of parishes, theological schools, colleges and universities.

An influential factor in Jim’s life was his friendship with Thomas Merton who dedicated Faith and Violence to Jim. Merton’s letters to Jim have been published as part of The Hidden Ground of Love (Farrar Straus & Giroux, NY).

In 1989, he received the Peacemaker Award from Notre Dame University’s Institute for International Peace Studies. He is on the advisory board for the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award.

He is the father of six children and grandfather of three. Since 1977 his home has been in Alkmaar, Holland, a city northwest of Amsterdam.

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