Jim McGinnis, teacher of peace, dead at 66

Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, and Jim McGinnis met in 2008 to discuss nonviolence programs and McGinnis' "Gandhi Guidebook for High Schools." The book was commissioned by the Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence during a visit to Christian Brothers University in Memphis, Tenn. (Courtesy Institute for Peace and Justice)

Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, and Jim McGinnis met in 2008 to discuss nonviolence programs and McGinnis' "Gandhi Guidebook for High Schools." The book was commissioned by the Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence during a visit to Christian Brothers University in Memphis, Tenn. (Courtesy Institute for Peace and Justice)

Jim McGinnis, who for nearly 40 years was an advocate and educator for peace and justice, died from a heart attack Aug. 13 near his home in St. Louis.

McGinnis, 66, and his wife, Kathy, were partners in running the Institute for Peace and Justice in St. Louis and the effort to bring peace education curricula to schools across the country. Their “Educating for Peace and Justice, A Manual for Teachers” was the first of its kind in the U.S. It has been revised numerous times and has become a popular resource for schools around the world.

Janice Vanderhaar, an ambassador of peace with Pax Christi USA and a friend of the McGinnises, said in a statement distributed by Pax Christi that the educator died while on an early morning walk.

McGinnis’ work on behalf of peace and justice evolved after a stint in the Tennessee National Guard and being assigned to a unit in Memphis, Tenn., at the time of the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Kathy McGinnis told CNS Aug. 15.

In 1970 McGinnis launched the Institute for the Study of Peace, which later became the Institute for Peace and Justice. The institute evolved as the Vietnam War deepened, student protesters and nonprotesters were killed at Kent State University in Ohio and Jackson State University in Mississippi, and the Jesuit-run St. Louis University decided to retain its ROTC program despite a recommendation by the school’s University Council to alter or terminate it

The McGinnises soon began to integrate peacemaking into their family. From that effort they developed a book, “Parenting for Peace and Justice,” and subsequently an international network to teach peacemaking.

Pax Christ USA awarded the McGinnises the 1995 Teacher of Peace Award.

A memorial Mass will be celebrated at 7 p.m., Aug. 18 at St. Alphonsus Liguori Parish in St. Louis. Messages of remembrance can be left on Pax Christi’s Facebook page.

One Response

  1. Jim McGinnis was among the best of the best…a Catholic layman who showed that it’s possible to live the gospel in all its power and in and for the world… How sad to lose him at such a relatively young age. R.I.P.

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