Making films for individuals and organizations dedicated to helping the poor is only part of what Pax et Bonum Communications does. Another vitally important part of our ministry is giving presentations to churches, high schools and colleges across the United States…and even in Europe. Gerry Straub, Pax et Bonum Communications’ founder and president, has given over 180 presentations the past eight years. Titled “Poverty & Prayer,” the presentation incorporates Gerry’s compelling conversion story as well as clips from his heart-wrenching documentary films on global and domestic poverty. High school presentations run 90 minutes and the adult version runs a full two hours. The presentation can be expanded into full day or two day retreats. The following pages contain endorsements from people who have attended the presentation and have been profoundly moved by the experience. There is also an up-to-date full list of all the churches and schools where Gerry has given presentations on this website’s HISTORY – PRESENTATIONS page HERE.
Gerry Straub has also lead day-long retreats on the theme of poverty and prayer in California, Arizona, Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, Connecticut, New York, Minnesota and Assisi, Italy. He has also spoken at national conferences for religion teachers and campus ministers held in Maryland, Ohio and Indiana. Gerry has also given his presentation to the Trappist monks at Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky and to the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn in New York City, as well as at gatherings of Secular Franciscans in Minnesota, Illinois and New York. In August of 2009 he gave a presentation at a gathering of over 5,000 young people in Paray-le-Monial, France. He also gave a presentation at the prestigious Orbis Books Speaker’s Series in Maryknoll, New York.
The presentations are offered free of charge, though Gerry will gratefully accept donations to Pax et Bonum Communications. For events outside the Los Angeles area, schools and churches would need to cover Gerry’s transportation and housing expenses.
The following reviews and comments about the “Poverty and Prayer” presentation may be of interest to you:
“In our day, it’s not uncommon to find issues of justice treated as separate from spirituality, dogma, and liturgy. In his powerful “Poverty & Prayer” presentation at our church, Gerry was able to help us to understand that these are all intimately related. Indeed, take justice out of the picture and we become poor shadows of what God means for us to be. Touched by scenes of poverty, though, the questions that so often haunt us all become clear – we understand why our worship, belief, and prayer are so very important. Thank you Gerry for helping us to see and to know God’s love and God’s will for our lives. May God bless you in your continued efforts to bring the face of Jesus to we who long for his life.”
Fr. Jim Brokman
Holy Name Catholic Church
West Union, Iowa
“Mr. Straub’s presentation was the best that I have seen in my twenty-eight years at Aquinas. Heart-wrenching and hopeful, his film clips and stories commanded the full attention of everyone in the auditorium. What we witnessed was a clear example of what it means to live the gospel. His life and his work raise our awareness of the plight of the poor and remind us of our Christian responsibility to respond. Mr. Straub changes lives–the lives of the poor he serves and the lives of audiences inspired to do the same.”
Aquinas Institute (high school)
Rochester, New York
“I found the presentation of Gerry Straub’s conversion and subsequent work riveting. His words and photos were ‘mind-blowing’ in the sense that my attention and my inner spirit were tremendously moved. It reminded me of my work in Mexico and Bolivia and how those experiences changed me and challenged me to always take the part of the powerless. And finally, his person renewed my hope!”
Fr. Gregg Petri, OFM
St. Mary’s Church
“Gerry’s presentation speaks to the enormity of human pain and suffering that is experienced around the world. But more importantly, it speaks to the God-gifted human compassion that we are called to express as followers of St. Francis and as Christians.”
Kent Ferris, OFS
Director of Social Action and Catholic Charities
Diocese of Davenport, Iowa
Chair of the Justice, Peace & the Integrity of Creation Committee
of the National Fraternity of Secular Franciscan Order – USA
“‘Thank you’ is inadequate to express my appreciation and gratitude to you. Your presentations exceeded my hopes and expectations for your visit. I continue to hear – both from students and others present – how the images you shared are imprinted on their minds and hearts and how meeting the people whose stories you have recorded makes all the difference in grasping what poverty really means. Like the Hebrew prophets, you tell it as it is! Hard to hear and impossible to forget!”
Christine Bochen, Ph.D.
Professor of Religious Studies
and the William H. Shannon Chair in Catholic Studies
Nazareth College, Rochester, New York
“Gerry’s films and his presentation enthralled our 1100 high school boys, kept them riveted for 90 minutes, and then galvanized them into action. Our service program has been transformed by the experience. It’s the best assembly I have witnessed in 33 years at this high school.”
Stephen P. Crawford
Bishop Hendricken High School, Warwick, Rhode Island
“Mr. Straub’s presentation brought a human face to the word poverty to me several times. He brought to my mind the degradation of the earth caused by earthquakes, climate change and human greed. Yes, we need a new human and evolutionary consciousness that there is ENOUGH in our world for all to LIVE and it starts with me!”
Sr. Marlene Schemmel, CSJ
“The Well” Retreat Center, LeGrange Park, Illinois
“Gerry, we are so grateful for the incredible presentation you gave us here at Adelphi University last week. Several students have contacted me and told me how moved they were by your stories and films. 20 students joined us in doing an outreach to the homeless in Manhattan this Sunday and many of them said that they were convicted to get involved after listening to you on Wednesday. Thank you for using your gifts and talents to create awareness and inspire compassion in the hearts of others! It truly was a gift to have you out here on Long Island!”
Adelphi University Interfaith Center
“Gerry Straub’s films twice captivated audiences at our college. They’ve lead students, staff and faculty to volunteer for service trips to work with the poor. The films are a stunning witness to the need of outreach and compassion,”
Director of Campus Ministry
Mount Mercy College, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
“While Gerry Straub’s presentation was not “fun”, it was most appropriate and revealing for our understanding of the poverty surrounding us. Our awareness of this reality is so vital to our human call as Christians and keepers of our brothers. Gerry made us realize how easy it is to live in our shells and not be in tune with how some people live.
One teacher said that her students commented on how greatly affected they felt by Gerry’s talk and viewing, especially students participating in fasting for a day during Holy Week while raising money for a local soup kitchen. Another teacher said, “Students were moved by the presentation and wanted to help the poor.”
I think the films provided a true picture of poverty around the world our students and teachers felt the horror for them seeing just how difficult life is for others. The photos and descriptions tug at our hearts and make us want to help in some way. I believe now some of our students will be more likely to volunteer in and after college for service opportunities to make a difference for those less fortunate.”
Central Catholic High School, Bloomington, Illinois
I was very touched by Mr. Straub’s presentation. He made situations in far off countries much more real to me. Most of the time, it’s hard to grasp that people live without the basic necessities of life such as food, water, shelter, and medicine. Afterwards, I encouraged my parents to go to Mr. Straub’s evening presentation at Saint Mary’s Catholic Church in Bloomington. They were equally as affected by his presentation and were thankful for the reminder of the presence of poverty in the world.
Mr. Straub’s challenge and films inspire me to do what’s in my power to assist the poor and needy. I certainly don’t expect to eliminate poverty, but I can make small efforts such as participating in Central Catholic’s annual 24 for 24 fast to benefit the Saint Mary’s Catholic Church Soup Kitchen and contribute to their work with the poor in the Bloomington/Normal area. After Mr. Straub’s presentation, I was doubly inspired to stay true to the fast if only to gain a little more understanding of what some people through on a daily basis. Furthermore, I was extremely pleased when Father Rick of Saint Mary’s Catholic Church presented the idea of sharing half of the money we raised from the 24 for 24 fast to help Mr. Straub with his efforts to making the world more aware of its’ poor. It was a cause certainly worth going hungry for.
Bloomington Central Catholic High School Senior
“These films move beyond intellectual understanding to a profound spiritual awakening. Viewers constantly respond with the question, ‘What can I do to help my brothers and sisters.’ The films motivated my students to an active response in Christian solidarity.”
Deacon Ted Pijacki
St. Joseph’s Collegiate School, Buffalo, New York
“Gerry is a true Franciscan – his love of poverty and serving the poor is demonstrated throughout his work. The powerful video clips and his witness at the two presentations here in Bloomington, Illinois captivated the people at St. Mary’s and the students at Central Catholic High School. Gerry connected Francis’ love of poverty to his passion of Our Lord through prayer and action. Gerry challenges us all to do something to help the poor as we all have a deep human need to connect to God and each other. We wish him well and hope to see him again.”
Fr. Ric Schneider, OFM
Pastor, St. Mary’s Church, Bloomington, Illinois
“On behalf of all of us who had the privilege of hearing your presentation during your recent visit to Bloomington/Normal, we thank you very much for sharing your experiences and information and insights concerning the poor. of our world. You were truly inspirational, and your encouragement for action and involvement was definitively heard and is being acted upon by many in multiple ways.”
Jim and Nancy McCuskin
St. Mary’s Church, Bloomington, Illinois
The students and staff at Xavier High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa were deeply moved by Gerry Straub’s presentation which combined the tools of media and personal testimony to educate about the stark reality of poverty. Through the power of film, Gerry brought to light the stories of people across the globe whose lives are devastated by the lack of food, shelter, clothing, medical care and at times the nurturing love of a mother and father. An added dimension of Gerry’s talk was his personal testimony and conviction about the work he does through Pax et Bonum Communications. He has truly been transformed through the power of God’s grace to use his talents and gifts to help those who have no way out of poverty. Anyone who has the opportunity to hear Gerry speak will not be the same. His presentation is life-changing and a powerful way to get schools and organizations talking about the issue of world poverty.
Xavier High School
Theology / Campus Ministry
“Your parishioners will experience a new dimension of what it means to have so much in a world where so many have so little. I cannot recommend Gerry Straub’s presentation highly enough.”
Fr. Vaughn Winters
St. John Nuemann Church, Santa Maria, California
“God bless all you do, and may you continue to inspire people with your films and presentations. We’ll never forget your touching our hearts.”
Br. Vincent Adams, OSF
St. Anthony’s High School, South Huntington, New York