'Bring the Kingdom of Heaven to this Earth'
Katie Gerry joined the Roman Catholic Church after a spiritual awakening at 13 when she was growing up in Waterbury, CT. “Catholic means unity,” she explained. And unity has been a theme in her life ever since.
In 2009, Gerry was looking for a summer internship before her junior year at American University. A friend had interned at Bread for the World’s Washington, DC, office, so Gerry applied and ended up serving in the church relations department that summer.
During her internship, she helped with tabling as well as with logistics for the National Gathering and Bread’s 35th anniversary dinner. She also spoke with youth groups on the importance of foreign assistance to help end hunger. “I told them that although they were not old enough to vote, they could help through prayer and by writing, calling, or visiting their elected officials,” Gerry remembered.
“I was especially interested in attending Bread’s National Gathering,” she said. “It brings together Christians of all denominations to exercise our divine duty: walking beside poor and hungry people. I met Catholics like myself, mainline Protestants, evangelical Christians. All came together to fight for what we believe in. For me, that’s what Christianity must be.”
A speaker at the 2009 National Gathering said something that resonated with Gerry. “She said that our disconnect from the natural world and its processes has led to a disconnect from each other. People are hungry because of our disconnect from each other. This was two years ago, and the message is still vivid in my mind.”
Gerry, along with hundreds of others at the 2009 National Gathering, had a chance to build a connection when it was time for visits to Capitol Hill. “I was scheduled to visit Congressman Chris Murphy’s office, and that was exciting,” she said. “I knew he cared a lot about children, but at that time he was focused primarily on health care.”
The day before the visit, Gerry received a letter saying that the Honduran child she had sponsored for years had finished primary school. The letter explained that the child’s formal education was over because there was no secondary school near his small village. “This child was my younger brother’s age! If foreign aid were better, he could have a chance at an education and a good life,” Gerry said.
As it turned out, Gerry was the only Gathering participant from Murphy’s district in Connecticut. “So at the age of 20, I went in all alone and updated his aide on the importance of making foreign aid more efficient.” She was delighted to learn that Murphy co-signed the bill that urged foreign aid reform.
Today, Gerry is focused on completing her studies at American University. She attends church at the Catholic campus ministry and at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in the Woodley Park neighborhood of Washington, DC. After graduation, she is headed to Little Rock, AR, where she will work with low-income children through City Year.
“There are so many ways to serve,” she said. “Direct aid, lobbying, support for causes. Faith is not a place of worship. It is you, constantly living through your actions, to bring the kingdom of heaven to this earth.”