Once a wealthy frat boy at Duke University, now a peace activist in the running for a Nobel Peace Prize, the Rev. John Dear has made a name for himself over the years.
St. James Church, located on 147 Main St. in Johnson City, will host a forum featuring Dear on Wednesday, Nov. 12, at 7 p.m.
Dear, a Jesuit priest, will speak about his book, “A Persistent Peace: One Man’s Struggle for a Nonviolent World,” which focuses on his own life. Besides discussing his years as a young adult and his history with law enforcement — which includes 75 arrests — Dear will also emphasize what he has learned from the people he has met on his crusades.
“Everyone is invited to go,” Pat Verdon, the organizer for the event, said.
Dear has traveled all over the world holding peace rallies against war and nuclear weapons.
According to Michelle Halm, senior marketing coordinator at Loyola Press, the company that published his most recent book, Dear has worked hard to raise awareness on the impact of sanctions on Iraqi children.
“For Dear, commitment to nonviolence is an all-or-nothing proposition,” Halm said.
According to Halm, it was during Dear’s college experience that he became influenced by the biographies of Robert Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who inspired the Jesuit to become a nonviolent peace activist.
Dear has made it clear on numerous occasions that the cause for peace is urgent and concerns each person, and various activists have stated that Dear’s mission is one that many should take part in, according to Loyola Press’ Web site.
“To take care of each other should be our primary concern in this 21st century,” Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk, states on the site. “Father John Dear is steady on this course.”
Verdon said he agreed with Hanh’s sentiment.
“I would not be promoting this if I didn’t think it was something worthwhile for all ages,” he said.
The Rev. Desmond Tutu has also praised Dear.
“Father John is a Jesuit priest who has been in the forefront of the religious peace movement in the United States,” Tutu said. “He is the embodiment of a peacemaker.”
“He believes that peace is not something static, but rather to make peace is to be engaged in mind, body and spirit,” Tutu added.
Dear is known for drawing large crowds and giving uplifting speeches wherever he goes.
“We hope to reach as many people as we can to hear his message,” Verdon said.