Fr. John Dear is an internationally known author, activist and teacher of peace and nonviolence. He has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Senator Barbara Mikulski, and several others.
He calls people to practice Gospel nonviolence, in the tradition of Gandhi and Dr. King, and to join the many global grassroots movements of nonviolence for the abolition of war, racism, poverty, nuclear weapons and environmental destruction. He has spoken to over a million people in his call for peace, and worked closely with legendary peacemakers such as Mother Teresa, Daniel and Philip Berrigan, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Thich Nhat Hanh, Mairead Maguire, Cesar Chavez, Joan Baez, Martin Sheen, Rev. James Lawson, Jackson Browne, and Coretta Scott King.
He has traveled the world teaching, lecturing, organizing and practicing nonviolence, in pursuit of a more nonviolent world. A Catholic priest, he served as the director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the largest interfaith peace organization in the United States, in the late 1990s to 2001, and after September 11, 2001, as one of the Red Cross coordinators of chaplains at the Family Assistance Center, and counseled thousands of relatives and rescue workers. He has worked in homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and community centers; traveled in warzones around the world, including Iraq, Palestine, Nicaragua, Afghanistan, India, and Colombia; lived in El Salvador, Guatemala and Northern Ireland; and in the 1990s arranged for Mother Teresa to speak to various governors to stop the death penalty. He has two Master’s Degrees in Theology from the Graduate Theological Union in California, and has taught at Fordham University.
John Dear has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, The Sun, National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” and elsewhere. For many years, he wrote a weekly blog for the National Catholic Reporter, and has been featured regularly on the national radio show “Democracy Now!” and the Huffington Post. He is the subject of the DVD documentary, “The Narrow Path” (with music by Joan Baez and Jackson Browne) and is profiled in John Dear On Peace, by Patti Normile (St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2009).
His thirty five books, including The Beatitudes of Peace, They Will Inherit the Earth, Praise Be Peace, Living Peace, The Nonviolent Life, Radical Prayers, Lazarus Come Forth, The God of Peace, Jesus the Rebel, Disarming the Heart, Peace Behind Bars, The Questions of Jesus, You Will Be My Witnesses, Our God Is Nonviolent, The Sound of Listening, Seeds of Nonviolence, Walking the Way, Thomas Merton Peacemaker, Transfiguration, Mary of Nazareth, and his autobiography, A Persistent Peace, have been translated into ten languages. He has edited books about Daniel Berrigan, Mohandas Gandhi, Mairead Maguire, Henri Nouwen, Richard McSorley and Horace McKenna.
He served on the staff of Pace e Bene and co-founded Campaign Nonviolence, national week of action against poverty, war, racism and environmental destruction, across the USA.
Fr. John participated in the April 2016 Vatican Conference on Nonviolence and Just Peace in Rome, and contributed background material for Pope Francis’ Jan. 1, 2017 World Day of Peace message, the first statement on nonviolence in the history of the Catholic Church.
Fr. John Dear has been arrested and jailed over 80 times in acts of nonviolent civil disobedience against war and nuclear weapons in the tradition of Gandhi and Dr. King, especially his Dec. 7, 1993, Plowshares action in North Carolina where he hammered on a nuclear weapon to fulfill Isaiah’s oracle, “They shall beat swords into plowshares and study war no more.” For that action, he faced over twenty years in prison, spent some nine months in jail, and recorded his experience in his book, Peace Behind Bars.
From 2002 to 2020, he led an annual peace and nonviolence vigil outside the nuclear weapons National Laboratories in Los Alamos, New Mexico, USA, birthplace of the atomic bomb. In 2013, along with actor Martin Sheen, he gave the opening keynote talk in Oslo, Norway, at the launch of ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, which won the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.
A former Jesuit, he was ordained in 1993 and is now a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Monterey, California. He lives in Big Sur, California. See: www.johndear.org
“John Dear is the embodiment of a peacemaker,” Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote a few years ago when he nominated John for the Nobel Peace Prize. “He has led by example through his actions and in his writings and in numerous sermons, speeches and demonstrations. He believes that peace is not something static, but rather to make peace is to be engaged, mind, body and spirit. His teaching is to love yourself, to love your neighbor, your enemy, and to love the world and to understand the profound responsibility in doing all of these. He is a man who has the courage of his convictions and who speaks out and acts against war, the manufacture of weapons and any situation where a human being might be at risk through violence. For evil to prevail requires only that good people sit on the sidelines and do nothing. John Dear is compelling all of us to stand up and take responsibility for the suffering of humanity so often caused through selfishness and greed.”
“John Dear’s is a beautiful message of peace.”
“The Catholic social justice tradition, particularly the part condemning weapons production, easy resort to violence, and modern warfare, is often referred to as the church’s best kept secret. Few in the church work harder at bringing that tradition to the fore than Father John Dear. A prolific writer and tireless activist, he has written more than 30 books and been arrested some 75 times in acts of civil disobedience, all the while traveling nonstop, it seems, to give lectures on peacemaking throughout the country.”
–The National Catholic Reporter
“To take care of each other should be our primary concern in this twenty-first century, and Father John Dear is steady on this course.”
–Thich Nhat Hanh
“John Dear not only talks about Jesus, he lives Jesus–radical, loving, nonviolent Jesus. He prisms Jesus through his own life and brings us into the adventure.”
— Sister Helen Prejean
“John Dear has the gift to capture the social gospel as Jesus and the apostles proclaimed it. His writing is in the tradition of Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, and Daniel Berrigan.”
— J. Christoph Arnold, The Bruderhof
“John Dear’s inspired journey–inside and out–gives us renewed hope for our own personal and public peacemaking.”
— the late Fred Rogers, TV star of “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood”
“‘Living Peace’ is a deeply moving and profoundly inspiring account of John Dear’s journey of enviable courage, boundless faith, unquestioned hope and unconditional love.”
— Martin Sheen, actor and activist
“John Dear has walked where holy words lead: to a high mountain of instruction, into the desert of forty days, into the garden of anguish. He has poured his blood on nuclear weaponry and has paid up in kangaroo courts and unspeakable jails. He has trekked about the world bearing the gospel in hand and heart, a wing-shod messenger of peace. He has lived in solidarity with the wretched of the earth–whose plight, as he well knows, is the mean feat of abominable economics and killer instincts on rampage. In this century, in this land, cleft in fragments of gigantic disorder, what a witness!”
“Some teachers are all theory and some are all practice. John Dear has earned ability to be both. Some teachers are very orthodox and some open new ground. John Dear puts the two together knowing they are the same.”
“John Dear has been arrested in the cause of peace and human decency more times than anyone else I know. I am honored to consider him a friend.”
“John Dear’s extraordinary autobiography, A Persistent Peace, reaches its climactic scene when a National Guard unit, prior to going to Iraq, stands in the early morning outside the door of his parish in New Mexico, where he has been preaching against the war, chanting ‘One bullet, one kill!’ His life might well be summed up by that scene: a priest whose commitment to nonviolence and peace carries him to El Salvador, the Middle East and all over the United States, and whose protests land him in jail again and again. His deep faith and steadfast devotion to the principles of Jesus, Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton and Daniel Berrigan, lead him to defy the authority of hierarchies, whether in his church or in the nation, and hold fast to his beliefs even when soldiers, chanting threats, show up at his door. John Dear’s life story is inspiring and heartwarming.”
—the late Howard Zinn, author of “A People’s History of the United States”
“The Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount are Jesus’ blueprint for peace. I urge everyone to study John Dear’s beautiful reflections [“The Beatitudes of Peace”] and join his campaign of peace and nonviolence.”
—President Jimmy Carter