The Book Launch of Sunrise of the Soul: My journey from Hollywood to Haiti with Gerard Thomas Straub, OFS
The Sunrise of the Soul is the fruit of the last 24 years of Gerry Straub's unexpected new life and journey of transformation that took him from the glamour of Hollywood to the horror of the worst slums on earth. From being a network television producer to making documentary films on global poverty. Gerry now lives in a crowded slum in Haiti where he operates a home of hope and healing called the Santa Chiara Children's Center for 69 abandoned kids, 24 of whom are still in diapers. His photographs and journals of his young kids and coworkers living at the center are icons for those all over the world who are famished for love and our concern.
Living in a home with sixty-nine kids in Haiti means stillness and silence are virtually nonexistent. After four years of intense work in Haiti, Gerry now commits himself to the rejuvenating power of authentic solitude in order to turn his attention to his own inner spiritual poverty. In the silent predawn darkness of each Haitian morning he waits, reflects and prays for two hours. This book emerged slowly from those many lonely hours of silence.
We invite you to join us for Gerry's book launch where we will share a short video of his work, hear powerful and transforming stories from his life, and learn why his new book Sunrise of the Soul: Meditations on Prayerful Stillness, Silence, Solitude, and Service in the Spirit of St. Francis of Assisi is relevant today.
June 21, 2020
My Two Youngest Kids
Every day when I come home from Mass, Peter Francis and Clare Marie run up to me. They follow me upstairs. I give them each a class of juice and a piece of fruit. They arrived as infants, Peter was only two days old, just weeks apart in January 2018. They both have my last name.
Both kids spent about the first sixteen months living on the second floor with me. Along with them, Judeline, Bency and Naïve also lived on the second floor. In time they were joined by Teresa Regina. With the departure of Ecarlatte, it was time reorganize the second floor, which we all shared with the medical clinic. I needed a little space, a little silence and solitude. The older girls moved downstairs and Judeline moved in with her mother in the apartment adjacent to us. To keep the three youngest kids upstairs would have required one or two nannies also living on the second floor, as they had since January 2018. Change was needed. The clinic moved into my office/bedroom. Naïve and Bency’s bedroom became my bedroom. The master bedroom, which was where the nannies and the youngest kids lived, became my office. For me, the hardest part was having Peter and Clare move downstairs. In time, I came to see it was best for them. Yet the year plus that they spent with me there was a real bonding. I love it when Clare Marie runs up to me, which she does every time she sees me. Peter does also, but not with the same enthusiasm.
“I’ve visited the home for abandoned children that Gerry runs in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and I was both shocked by the appalling poverty and amazed by the shining grace. Gerry has been mulling on these themes and meditations for decades. The only difference now is that they flow not from his previous life in Hollywood or on the road as a filmmaker, but from his life among the poorest of the poor in Haiti, where he raises over sixty little children. These meditations have more power and authenticity than most because of that painful, yet grace-filled context. After a lifelong search for God among the poor, in the footsteps of St. Francis, Gerry Straub has written a modern-day version of the Gospel, one that we all need to hear and heed. May it help us get through this long dark night, see the sunrise in our own souls, and carry on this holy work of loving service, justice and peace.” —Rev. John Dear, Fr. John Dear is a longtime activist, lecturer, and author/editor of 30 books, including The Nonviolent Life, Lazarus Come Forth!, and A Persistent Peace. He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.