Leader Spotlight: Kent Ferris

Kent Ferris is a native of Blair, Nebraska and currently resides in Davenport, Iowa with his family. Kent graduated from Coe College in Cedar Rapids with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and from Mankato State University, Mankato, Minnesota, with a master’s degree in counseling and student personnel. Kent is currently the social action director for the Diocese of Davenport in Davenport, Iowa.

Can you share the story of how you began your work with Gamaliel and the Fire of Faith Campaign?
I have had a relationship with Gamaliel for a number of years by way of Quad City Interfaith (QCI). QCI is a CCHD national grant recipient, as well as a local grant recipient. It was this past summer that 6 or 7 individuals with QCI connections went to USML for week long trainings. I believe there were some individuals who previously served in my position that both attended week longs and also those who did not. It was the belief of Monsignor Marvin Mottet, national director of CCHD from 1978 to 1985 and former Diocese of Davenport’s Social Action Director that anyone serving in Social Action should go to Gamaliel week long trainings. Around this point, I began to learn about Gamaliel’s Fire of Faith Campaign.

What do you see as some of the benefits of the Fire of Faith Campaign within the Church?
I see a benefit of not only being involved with individual parishes and the Fire of Faith Campaign, but for the Diocese as a whole.  I have had many conversations with Bishop Amos of Davenport about Fire of Faith. What really impressed me about Gamaliel and the Fire of Faith Campaign is that so much of the initial work is individual conversations and establishing relationships. In turn, our communities are being developed and enhanced. I believe the Diocese will then have stronger relationships with their parishes. Our Social Action Office is committed to Fire of Faith, just as parishes commit. This means commitment on two levels: as parishes and as a diocesan office.

How is Fire of Faith aligned with Catholic Social Teaching?
If we are to walk with the two feet of social justice as Father Mottet suggested, we have to respond with advocacy or justice in addition to charity.  I believe that for parishes within QCI responding with justice, they will strengthen their own communities. We must remember that we have a long history of charity and justice within our Church. This is not a new concept we are sharing with churches, rather a new approach.

How do you foresee the role of Fire of Faith in the future of your diocese?
I think Fire of Faith could be a model for the Office of Social Action. If we can realize the value, this could be a way to share success and provide powerful change. We do not take our commitment to Gamaliel’s Fire of Faith Campaign lightly. We have an incredible support in Bishop Amos and we are excited to be a part of this network. 

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