Gerard Thomas Straub is a documentary filmmaker and an award-winning author of six books, including a novel. Gerry’s critically acclaimed book The Sun and Moon Over Assisi, which offers inspirational reflections on St. Francis of Assisi and St. Clare of Assisi, was named the best spirituality hardcover book of 2001 by the Catholic Press Association; an updated version of the book was released in the Fall of 2008. His photo/essay book on global poverty, When Did I See You Hungry?, features photographs taken in India, Kenya, Brazil, Jamaica, Italy, Canada, the Philippines and Mexico. Gerry’s striking black & white photography has been exhibited in the art gallery attached to the Cathedral of the Assumption in Louisville, Kentucky, and also published in The New York Times, The National Catholic Reporter and Sojourners magazine. Thoughts of a Blind Beggar was published by Orbis Books in the fall of 2007; the book offers a series of poetic meditations on the importance of prayer and compassion. His latest book, Hidden in the Rubble, is based on his experience in Haiti during the aftermath of the horrific earthquake that killed over 300,000 people and left more than a million people homeless. Tom Roberts of the National Catholic Reporter said, “Gerry Straub is a story-teller with a camera. In an era when news has become so atomized and fast-paced it is almost impossible to get a sense of the whole, Straub engages two great risks. He takes us to see what much of the world would rather ignore, and he does it slowly and reflectively. The risks pay off here in a kind of meditation on Haiti that is simultaneously brutally frank and filled with the hope of religious imagination.”
Mr. Straub also had a long and distinguished career as a network television producer in New York and Hollywood; he produced dramatic television series that have aired on CBS, NBC and ABC, including the wildly popular General Hospital. He was the executive producer of The Doctors, a long-running soap opera on NBC which was taped at Rockefeller Center in New York. Gerry has written and directed seventeen documentary films, three of which have aired on many PBS television stations, including We Have a Table for Four Ready, which tells the poignant story of a soup kitchen run by Franciscan friars in Philadelphia.
Gerry also taught a course on television writing and directing at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Italy. He has lectured and shown his films at the University of Notre Dame, St. Bonaventure University, the University of Dayton, Loyola Marymount University, Canisius College, Mount Mercy College, Siena College, Wheaton College, Calvin College, Chestnut Hill College, Alvernia University, Gonzaga University, the Catholic Theological Union, and the Umbra Institute in Perugia, Italy. He received an honorary doctorate degree in Humane Letters from St. Bonaventure University in May of 2003. In May of 2006, Mr. Straub delivered the commencement address and received an honorary doctorate degree in Humane Letters from St. Francis University in Loretto, Pennsylvania. In May of 2009, Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia awarded him an honorary Doctor of Law degree in recognition of his work on behalf of the poor. In addition, he has spoken at more than 100 Catholic churches and high schools across the nation. He has led retreats in California, Arizona, Connecticut, New York, Ohio and Minnesota.
Gerry, a Secular Franciscan, is the founder and former president of The San Damiano Foundation, which produces films that celebrate the spirituality of St. Francis of Assisi and the Franciscan concern for the poor, social justice, peace, non-violence, prayer and the integrity of creation. Gerry has written and directed eighteen documentary films, including: When Did I See You Hungry?, which explores the Christian response to global poverty and is narrated by Martin Sheen; Embracing the Leper, which describes the heroic work of a Secular Franciscan who brings aid to the lepers and the poor of the Amazon region of Brazil; Holy Pictures, a meditation on the importance of stillness and silence in the spiritual life; Rescue Me, on the plight of the homeless in the Skid Row section of Los Angeles and featuring a song performed by Bono and the Irish rock band U2; Endless Exodus, on the plight of the undocumented migrants from Central America and Mexico; The Patients of a Saint, which tells the inspirational story of an American doctor who abandoned his career and opened a home and clinic for chronically ill and impoverished children of Lima, Peru; Room at the Inn, which revisits the St. Francis Inn in Philadelphia; Where Love Is, which focuses on the heroic work of the Capuchin Soup Kitchen in Detroit; The Narrow Path, a film on peace and nonviolence featuring the Jesuit priest, author and peace activist Fr. John Dear; and The Fragrant Spirit, an epic, gut-wrenching film set in the horrific poverty and intense suffering of the war-torn East African country of Uganda.
His books and films have been written about in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, St. Petersburg Times, National Catholic Reporter (cover story), U.S. Catholic and Sojourners magazine, and has been featured in stories which have aired on Religion and Ethics Newsweekly (PBS), Life & Times (KCET-TV, the PBS station in Los Angeles), News Conference (KNBC-TV News in Los Angeles), Take Five (WZZM-TV [ABC], Grand Rapids, Michigan) and Inner Compass (WGVU-TV [PBS], Grand Rapids, Michigan). In addition, stories about Gerry have also been published by diocesan newspapers in Buffalo, Phoenix, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Providence, Brooklyn and Glasgow, Scotland.
Gerry is a former member of the Board of Regents of the Franciscan School of Theology in Berkeley, California. He is also a former member of the Board of Directors of Bread for the World, a Washington, D.C. nonprofit organization that lobbies Congress for the rights of the poor. In September of 2003, The University of Dayton presented Mr. Straub with the Daniel J. Kane Religious Communications Award, an annual award given to a person who has made “an outstanding lifetime dedication to gospel values through various forms of Media.” Gerry lives in Burbank, California.