Leader Spotlight: Freddie Byrd

Freddie Byrd has lived in Kansas City, Missouri since 1996 and began her involvement with Missouri Gamaliel affiliate, Metro Organization for Racial and Economic Equity, MORE², in 2004.  Freddie converted to Catholicism in 1989 and joined Redemptorist Catholic Church in Kansas City. Freddie has a background as a social worker and is passionate about advocating for those in need.   

How did your work with Gamaliel begin?

One of the parishioners at Redemptorist was in on the ground floor of MORE² and thought I would be interested in being a part of the Gamaliel network because I was a social worker.  I was drawn to Gamaliel for the simple fact that I was interested in doing whatever I had to do to obey Jesus’ command to love one another.  This command is something that I, as a Catholic, cannot ignore.

How is Gamaliel’s Fire of Faith Campaign linked to Catholic Social Teaching?

As far as I can see, all of the components of the campaign align with helping people who cannot help themselves out of situations that they do not necessarily control.  People cannot control the fact that they cannot find work or be a part of a union.  With education in the Kansas City School District, we have found that it is best to work with children one on one. Engaging with these children and really showing we care for them has been beneficial.  Another issue is access to healthcare.  At one point, I had no health insurance and I knew that many patients at the clinics I was going to would not be able to afford health care if those clinics did not exist.  MORE² is working to support access to these types of clinics for those in need.  It is our responsibility as Catholics to do these things and these are the issues being tackled with the Fire of Faith Campaign.

How has your parish committed to Fire of Faith?

Right now we are working on a second listening campaign.  We want people to have a voice in the work we are doing within Gamaliel and MORE².  We are finding that some people believe that politics don’t belong in the Church, but I see that as ignoring the “love one another” commandment.  Everything is tied together and we cannot forget that.  We are committed to Fire of Faith because we know how strong and widespread it is in our community.

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

Working with other churches has been very informative and enlightening to me and to my church.  We have been able to work together and educate one another about different aspects of our respective religions.  This interaction has helped us grow and learn about one another.  It is clear that we need to work together, perhaps stepping out of our comfort zones, to create comprehensive change.

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