Deacon Jim Knipper is a Roman Catholic deacon serving the Diocese of Trenton, N.J. When not serving his faith community at St. Paul’s in Princeton, he is CEO of J. Knipper and Company, Inc., and a principal of Clear Faith Publishing LLC and editor/contributor of this book. Make sure to visit the Clear Faith Publishing website and see their selection of books and artwork.
1) Deacon Jim, could you start off by telling my readers a little about yourself and the ministry work you are involved in currently?
After having raised four sons, I live in Princeton, NJ with my wife Teresa. I am CEO of my own company which is focused on pharmaceutical distribution. In 2008 I was ordained a Permanent Deacon in the Diocese of Trenton, NJ and serve the community of St. Paul Church in Princeton. My ministries at the parish revolve around liturgy and sacrament preparation.
2) How did Clear Faith Publishing start and what would say are your hopes for it?
I’ve always had a love and a passion for homilies, even before I was ordained, and have been blessed to have many talented pastors over the years. After my ordination I wanted to find a way to blend the longtime passion I have for inspired and inspiring homilies with the diaconal call to serve and help those in need. Brainstorming with some talented friends led to the idea of a series of books with homilies by Christian men and women who excel at the art of preaching, using a corporate structure whereby the proceeds from these books would go to charities. So I decided to create my own publishing company to better control of the end product and maximize proceeds available for donation. Thus, Clear Faith Publishing was launched just over three years ago.
3) I recently purchased your three volume Homilists for the Homeless set, which is a collection of homilies from notable Christians for the Sunday and Feast Day Lectionary readings. What inspired you to produce this?
In doing my own research I found that there were not a plethora of books available for preachers as well as those in the pews that effectively broke open the Sunday and Feast Day readings. With some many articles being written about poor preaching (including words from Pope Francis!) I saw a need to see what we could produce that would be new and different. So reaching out to a variety of talented writers and homilists I decided to publish over three years a set of books covering the three yearly Liturgical Cycles.
4) What was the process like in getting such a wide-range and impressive list of contributors to this project?
Actually it was a bit easier than I thought. I have been blessed to travel the past five years with Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM and thus have met some incredible people. At the same time there is some great talent right here in the greater New Jersey area. So once I started asking – everyone quickly jumped on board. From the start all the Contributors easily saw how the project was a win-win for the readers as well as the the charities who benefit from the proceeds.
5) When I opened the package that contained the Homilists for The Homeless set what immediately struck me was how beautiful the books and the illustrations were in each volume. Each week's homily is beautifully laid out on each page, allowing ease of reading and room enough to interact with the text through underlining, highlighting, or personal notes. The illustrations also add another element for reflection for the reader. Could you discuss the work you did, as well as illustrator Brother Mickey O'Neill McGrath, in producing such a beautiful set of books?
Thanks for your positive feedback! Indeed we have a great team within my small publishing company. Before we even pulled together the first book we knew that we wanted to publish something visually attractive and designed/printed with a high quality. Our design and layouts are done by Doug Cordes, based in New York City. Doug has an incredible eye and talent for making a book easy to read. Then all of the art is by my good friend, Br. Mickey McGrath, OSFS. Mickey, creates art for many of today’s leading Catholic publishers and organizations and was one of the first to say yes to this project. There is no doubt that his cover art, along with the design work of Doug really make this set of books stand out.
6) What can we expect in the future from Clear Faith Publishing?
We continue to work on new publishing projects. Over the past few years we’ve been building upon our relationship with our 'resident artist' Br. Mickey. This past year, in addition to designing and producing his annual calendar and Christmas cards, we published one of his newest books, Good Saint John XXIII. We have also been working closely with one of our contributors, Fr. Bill Bausch in refreshing and rereleasing some of his earlier books. In addition, we’re in the process of completing design and production of his new book, using the working title, Sagas, Scholars & Searchers, which should be released as he celebrates his 60th year as a priest in the spring of this year.
Based on the positive feedback we’re receiving, we exploring the possibility of releasing a book of homilies focused on "non-Sunday" liturgies, such as baptisms, weddings, and funerals. And then, of course, we’ll begin again for the next round of yearly cycles! We are also expanding the ways that we are being multipliers of the Word. Such as, this summer we will sponsor Fr. Richard Rohr on two river cruises in France and Germany, each providing daily teaching opportunities as well as visiting incredible sights.
7) Could you share with my readers what your favorite scriptures passage is and why?
Wow – that is a great question. I have many, but one of my favorites would be the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32). For where many who hear the story focus on the “prodigal” or reckless nature of the young son who spends his inheritance on wine and women. Whereas the story is really about the ‘prodigal’, uncontrolled and unwarranted love of the father...the love that our God has for all of us, without exception. I often wonder how different our daily life would be if kept in mind the closing lines spoken by the father: “My son [my daughter], you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’” For indeed, God celebrates each of our lives and always calls out to us…even when we feel dead or when we are lost in our ways or feel the heavy burden of so much anxiety in our daily lives. God finds us. God is always with us. All that God has is ours. All. Always. Forever.