The Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns offers deepest sympathy to the family and friends of our former director, Gerry Lee, who died surrounded by family at his cabin home in the woods of Washington state on July 24.
Many supporters of the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns will remember Gerry, who joined the MOGC staff in 2013, for his faithful leadership of our peace and justice advocacy and education campaigns; he retired after his diagnosis of cancer in 2018.
“We are heartbroken to lose Gerry, our dear friend and partner in mission. At the same time, we are overwhelmed with gratitude for his life and all the ways he shared his gifts. Gerry was a deeply spiritual and compassionate man who always responded to injustice and suffering with unwavering confidence in the promise of God’s peace and love,” said Susan Gunn, current director of the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns.
Gerry served on the staff of the Maryknoll Lay Missioners from 1994-2006, including several years on its leadership team. He and his wife Patti McKenna, along with their daughters Amanda, Abigail and Jessica, served as a mission family in Venezuela for 10 years (1984-1994) where Gerry focused on community organizing and human rights advocacy. Upon return to the United States in 1995, Gerry joined the food justice movement, practicing urban farming with young adults and community leaders in inner city Philadelphia.
Whether organizing his neighbors to protect human rights in the slums of Venezuela or advocating for investments in peace, nonviolence, and care of the Earth with policymakers in Washington and at the United Nations, Gerry’s life exemplified the highest ideals of the Christian faith. His generous, joyful spirit -- and the beautiful photos taken with his camera -- made a strong impact wherever he served. His death strengthens our resolve to stand in solidarity with all vulnerable, marginalized peoples and with all of Creation.
We wish to share an excerpt from a reflection Gerry wrote for Palm Sunday in 2015. The reflection in its entirety is available on our website:
“Often, in being humbled by life’s losses and suffering, we are offered the gift of faith, and with it, the love that sustains and calls us to be more than we think we are. This is what Pope Francis speaks of as the ‘joy of faith’ and the spirit of mission that he so often invokes ... For Maryknoll’s founders, the heart of being a missioner is love expressed with joy. In serving, in being humbled by our vulnerability when immersed in a strange culture, we lose ourselves – only to encounter Jesus in new and wonderful ways among a people who reveal to us our true selves in processions and fiestas, community struggles and celebrations … a faith ever expanding in reverence for life and for the Earth that nurtures us.”
Read tributes by Maryknoll Lay Missioners and see more photos of Gerry Lee at https://mklm.org/mklm/exquisite-grace-and-bucking-the-system/