Gary John Boelhower: A Lifelong Journey for Justice
Gary entered the “minor seminary” for his high school and went on to graduate from college at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. While there, during the thick of the Vietnam War, Gary wrote a paper on why he was committed to being a conscientious objector, which he presented to his local draft board, and he was granted CO status. That experience, along with participation in numerous anti-war demonstrations, clarified his long-term commitment to non-violent resistance and activism.
Gary also has had a lifelong commitment as an educator, with an emphasis on social justice and ethical decision-making. He began as a religious educator in Catholic parishes and, following graduate studies where he earned an M.A. and Ph.D., Gary went on to teach at Marian University in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, and then at the College of St. Scholastica. Gary is proud of starting two nonprofit organizations while in Wisconsin, one which practices “radical hospitality” in providing food for the hungry, and one which provides literacy training for adults. Both are still going strong.
Asked about his evolution in the social justice movement, Gary said that there are three foundations for his activism. They are: 1) growth in knowledge of oneself; 2) finding ways to help meet the immediate and critical needs of others; 3) working to change unjust systems in our society.
Gary previously was married for 23 years and fathered 3 children. He now is joyfully married to his spouse, Gary Anderson. Gary John is a prolific writer and has published books of both non-fiction and poetry, and he is on the verge of publishing children’s books as well.
Interviewed by John Clark Pegg