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Gillis, James Martin


Editor, author; b. Boston, Mass., Nov. 12, 1876; d. New York City, March 14, 1957. He was the son of James and Catharine (Roche) Gillis. After early education at Boston Latin School, he attended St. Charles College, Baltimore, Md., and St. John's Seminary, Brighton, Mass. In 1900 he joined the Paulist fathers; he was ordained the following year and sent to the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., where he earned a licentiate in theology (1903). He taught at St. Paul's College, Washington, D.C., until 1910, when he left to engage in missionary work.

In 1922 Gillis was named editor of the Paulist periodical the Catholic World, a post he filled until 1948. Under his direction the Catholic World retained the reputation it had acquired under such predecessors as Isaac hecker and Augustine F. hewit. Gillis was noted for his vigor as a controversialist and for his outspoken and conservative opinions on political issues, which were frequently quoted. After 1928 he produced also a newspaper column called "Sursum Corda: What's Right with the World," which was syndicated in 50 diocesan papers. From 1930 to 1941 he attracted notice as a popular radio speaker on the "Catholic Hour," produced by the National Broadcasting Company. He was a prolific author, publishing his first book, False Prophets, in 1925 and My Last Book in 1957. His other works included: The Catholic Church and the Home (1928), The Ten Commandments (1931), Christianity and Civilization (1932), The Paulists (1932), This Our Day (2 v. 1933, 1949), So Near Is God (1953), On Almost Everything (1955), and This Mysterious Human Nature (1956). His numerous articles appeared in leading Catholic magazines, and he wrote for the old Catholic Encyclopedia and the Encyclopedia Americana. He was an academy member of the Gallery of Living Catholic Authors and received many honorary degrees from American Catholic colleges, including Fordham University, Fordham, N.Y. (1935), and the University of Detroit, Mich. (1940). In 1951 he received an honorary doctorate in theology from the Angelicum (Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas), Rome. Illness forced him to retire in 1948, but he continued to serve as contributing editor of the Catholic World until his death. He was buried in the Crypt Church at St. Paul the Apostle, New York City.

Bibliography: j. f. finley, James Gillis, Paulist (Garden City, N.Y. 1958).

[j. l. morrison]

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