Leader Spotlight: Father Rudy Juarez

Father Rudy hails from Iowa City, Iowa and has been a part of the Gamaliel organization for over 20 years. Most of his work has been associated with St. Patrick Parish. He has an undergraduate degree from St. Mary’s University of Texas, as well as a Master’s degree in Divinity from Notre Dame University. He was ordained a priest at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport, Iowa.

What skills have you gained from your work with Gamaliel and the Fire of Faith campaign?

One thing about my experience with the Gamaliel Foundation is that it has helped me sharpen my skills with organizing, how to work and address issues concerned with the community, as well as sharpening my organizational and leadership skills. This is important for pastoral leaders because life really is about organizing to move beyond and do greater things.

What has your experience been working in a multifaith network like Gamaliel?

I have seen tremendous faith and commitment exhibited in folks that I work with through the Gamaliel network. It has challenged me from the standpoint of being a Roman Catholic priest, as we all see through the lens of Catholic faith and teaching. It helps me appreciate the tremendous depth of what the Catholic faith is to me. I feel that the work I have experienced with Gamaliel has helped to enrich my Catholic faith and my sense of interfaith dialogue because not everyone is a Christian or Catholic.

How would you say that the Fire of Faith campaign mirrors Catholic values?

The work of Gamaliel and the Fire of Faith campaign is in concert with the work of the Church due to the focus on social justice, which is so important in Catholic social teaching. This is part of our faith and tradition and is part of what it means to be a Catholic as far as I’m concerned. With changes that have come about [in our culture] we can see growing secularism and the sense of upward mobility. I think what has happened is the tendency for people to move up the social ladder and go from being marginalized to becoming more integrated and having more access to the benefits of American society. There can be a turning point in the way that people can view life, society and the people within it. People in the Church have become more socially conservative and more lax in the call to social justice as they climb that ladder. The Church lives out this reality in that many Catholics in the mainstream have forgotten their historical roots; this is a Church of immigrants. People need to address the social ills that are still with us and still plague newly arrived immigrants to this day. We need to live out the gospel.

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