Ten Catholics doing amazing things


The Catholic Herald profiles ten Catholics who are quietly using their talents in the service of others in an astonishing variety of fields.

1. Gerry Straub

Gerry Straub has had an illustrious career as a television producer in New York and Hollywood, producing extremely popular shows such as General Hospital and The Doctors.

But he is now applying his considerable expertise as a film producer, filmmaker, and critically acclaimed author to uncover the living conditions of the world’s poorest people.

Straub has written and directed 18 documentaries, including Embracing the Leper, which shows a Secular Franciscan valiantly bringing support to the lepers of the Brazilian Amazon. Straub is himself a Secular Franciscan, and founder of the San Damiano Foundation.

This organisation makes films about the spirituality of St Francis of Assisi and the Franciscan care of the poor. One such notable film is Where Love Is, which shows the work of a Capuchin soup kitchen in Detroit. Straub has taught television directing at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

His new film, Mud Pies and Kites, captures life in Haiti before and after the catastrophic earthquake of 2010. When researching the film Straub visited Haiti seven times, and the title is a reference to the fact that the Haitians were so short of food that they ate mud mixed with spices.

2. Fr Patrick Desbois

A million and a half Jews were murdered after the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. For the most part, the “Holocaust of bullets” which preceded the Final Solution has slipped under the radar. But France’s Fr Patrick Desbois (pictured) is dedicating his life to uncovering its full scale and horror.

Fr Desbois can be seen wandering through the forgotten forests and fields of the Ukraine and Belarus, Russia and Poland. Fr Desbois has found more than 800 mass graves of Holocaust victims, and recorded 1,800 videotaped interviews. He travels with a team of two interpreters, a photographer, a cameraman, a ballistics expert, a mapping expert and a note-taker.

Fr Desbois has a particular style of asking questions in a neutral tone. Then he listens to the testimonies without showing any shock and never judging those who worked for the Nazis. This is precisely why many Holocaust scholars say that he is so successful in gathering evidence.

In 2004, he helped create the Yahad-In Unum, an organisation based in north-eastern Paris, which funds and supports his work. The words yahad and In unum mean “together” in Hebrew and Latin respectively. As the organisation’s name suggests, it strives to further mutual-understanding between Christians and Jews.

FULL STORY Ten Catholics doing amazing work (Catholic Herald) 

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