My name is Jim McKinstra and I am the new Parish Social Justice Coordinator at Nativity. My thanks to Fr. Bill and to all of the staff for welcoming me and my thanks and appreciation to the parishioners of Nativity that I have met. Through God’s grace, following the example of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and through the intercession of our Blessed Mother, I will strive to do my best to carry on the long-standing tradition that Nativity has of working for peace and justice, locally, nationally and globally.
I have been a resident of Moorhead since 2014, and initially moved to Minnesota from my home in northern Illinois and resided on the Iron Range in Aurora, MN in 2011. I live with my wife and one son and am an active member of St. Joseph’s in Moorhead. Our oldest recently moved out into his first apartment, and he is now a Fargo resident.
I work at Churches United in Moorhead as a Housing Support Case Manager and my duties at Nativity are on a part-time basis. I am actively involved in the FM Coalition to End Homelessness as the co-chair of the Housing Stabilization Committee and have long had a deep interest and sense of working among those that are homeless, hungry, and marginalized. My strong interest in issues of peace and justice goes back to my childhood as I accompanied my mother as she delivered meals-on-wheels and also visited the elderly at a local nursing home. Even as a child, long before there were municipal recycling programs, I remember my mother having us separate bottles, cans, and paper so we could take those items to a salvage yard in our hometown where they would be recycled. The model that I try to follow is the model that my mother showed me in caring for our neighbors, solidarity with the poor, and service to the elderly and care for the earth.
I grew up in Freeport, Illinois, and attended Catholic schools all through high school and college and in my college years at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, in the mid-1980s, I was very active in campus ministry activities including volunteering at a Dorothy Day House of Hospitality in Dubuque, being involved in nonviolent movements against Apartheid in South Africa and against nuclear arms build-up. During these years, I also participated in some mission trips to work and live alongside the poor in rural Appalachia and in the inner city of Washington, DC.
I have worked in the past as a parish Religious Education Director and Youth Minister in my home diocese, the Diocese of Rockford, Illinois, and have for the past 20+ years worked in human services including working in senior housing and elder care, in both in-patient and out-patient mental health and substance
abuse treatment centers, in residential groups homes and day training or vocational centers supporting persons with developmental and physical disabilities, and most recently, in the work of striving to end homelessness.
My schedule at Nativity will vary from week to week, but I will be checking emails and voicemail messages. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and my phone number is 701-232-2414 ext. 136. I plan on being available to meet you and introduce myself after the Masses at one of the upcoming weekends.
In the words from his first radio address to the world on August 27, 1978, Pope John Paul I reminds us, “We all have the duty of working to make the world a place of greater justice, more stable peace, more sincere cooperation.”