Renowned peace activist Jim Forest will be in Pittsburgh Oct. 14 and 15 to speak about his new biography of his friend Dorothy Day. One of the sessions will take place on the grounds of the Holy Family of Nazareth, where Ms. Day used to go on retreat with Father John Hugo, a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh.
Mr. Forest has been an Orthodox Christian since 1988, but the founder of the Catholic Peace Fellowship maintains strong ties to the Catholic Church, and his appearances here are sponsored by a long list of Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant and interfaith organizations.
His first lecture and book signing will be Friday, Oct. 14 at 7:30 p.m. in St. George Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral, 3400 Dawson St., in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh. A $5 donation is requested.
The second event, a full day of reflection, will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Holy Family of Nazareth, 285 Bellevue Rd., near the Perrysville exit of I-279 North. A $30 donation includes lunch.
Mr. Forest grew up in New Jersey, was baptized an Episcopalian and converted to Catholicism in 1960 while serving in the Navy near Washington, DC. His conversion coincided with a growing conviction that it was wrong to take human life under any circumstance. In 1961 he obtained an early discharge from the Navy on the grounds of conscientious objection.
He then joined the Catholic Worker Community in New York City. It had been founded by Dorothy Day, a convert to Catholicism whose faith led her to devote her life to serving the poor. She is a candidate for sainthood. Mr. Forest became managing editor of her newspaper, The Catholic Worker. “All is Grace: A Biography of Dorothy Day” is his second book about her life.
In 1965 he founded the Catholic Peace Fellowship to promote the possibility of conscientious objection to military service in an era of the
draft. He was influential enough that the Trappist monk and peace activist Thomas Merton dedicated one of his books to Mr. Forest.
In 1969 he was imprisoned for 13 months for burning draft records along with a group of Catholic priests and laity in Milwaukee. In 1973 he became editor of Fellowship, the magazine of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation, an interfaith peace group. In 1977 he moved to Holland, where he and his wife Nancy still live, to become general secretary of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation.
During the 1980s he wrote two books on religious faith in the Soviet Union, which led to his conversion to Orthodoxy in 1988. He is now international secretary of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship.
He had suffered illness in recent years, and in 2007 received a living donor kidney from his wife, Nancy. They have six children and five grandchildren.