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Gateley will deliver Kennedy Lecture

A poet and author noted by Publisher’s Weekly for her “blend of contemplation and action” will deliver the 15th annual Kennedy Lecture on Jan. 24 at St. Peter Catholic Church.

The church has invited Edwina Gateley to deliver the lecture.

Gateley, who was born in England and lives in the U.S., is known for her unusual life of service as well as her writing and speaking.

The lecture was founded by Thomas and Richard Kennedy in remembrance of their parents, Keith and Joan Kennedy. The elder Kennedys were active at St. Peter and in the community, especially in social justice, church and women’s issues.

“We are always looking for speakers to honor their memory,” said Martha Schmitt, chairwoman of the Kennedy Lecture committee. “When we are looking at people, we always go back to what Joan and Keith would have really been involved with when they were alive.”

The church brings in a nationally known speaker every year for a lecture that is open to the community.

Gateley has undertaken several hermitages, including nine months in prayer and solitude in Illinois in the early 1980s. She then spent a year on the streets of Chicago befriending prostitutes and people who were homeless before founding the Genesis House, a refuge for women involved in prostitution.

Gateley also sojourned in the Sahara Desert, taught in Africa and founded the Volunteer Missionary Movement, which encourages people to get more deeply involved in the life of their church and sends volunteers to communities in Africa, Asia and South America.

John Dear, a pastor and international advocate for peace and nonviolence, described Gateley as “a living saint in our midst” and wrote that “her mission springs from and leads to a passionate love of God.”

Schmitt said the lecture committee was drawn to Gateley because of her work with social justice issues.

“She also focuses on how you see God in others around you, and that’s a theme we have in our church this year,” Schmitt said. “We feel like she will help us grow in seeing God in our neighbors.”

Sometimes Kennedy Lectures are focused more on Catholic theology, but Schmitt said Gateley’s talk should be appealing to a wide audience. Some lectures have prompted the church to action, such as Father Daniel Groody’s 2014 talk about immigration and human trafficking. In the past year, the church has educated parishioners about those topics and become involved in the issues.

“These lectures can really catapult us to action items related to the topic,” Schmitt said.

A group of church members have prepared for the lecture by reading and discussing Gately’s book “I Hear a Seed Growing – God of the Forest, God of the Streets” at Gately’s recommendation.

All in the community are welcome to the lecture, which is free and begins at 9 a.m. in the church sanctuary.

“I think anybody who wants to walk with Christ will enjoy what she has to say and can learn from it,” she said.

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