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Mercy in the City

Kerry Weber

William Van Ornum - published on 01/18/14

An interview with author Kerry Weber, managing editor of America magazine

Last autumn, Kerry Weber, managing editor of America magazine, returned from Rwanda, immeasurably enriched by her visit. During her time reporting from the country, she witnessed the fruits of forgiveness among the people affected by the 1994 genocide there: even those who had murdered many people were forgiven by the victims’ surviving family members for the sake of going forward as part of a peaceful community.

Yet, one need not travel to the ends of the earth to communicate mercy to others. This, in fact, is the theme of Weber’s new book, Mercy in the City: How to Feed the Hungry, Give Drink to the Thirsty, Visit the Imprisoned, and Keep Your Day Job, to be published February 1st by Loyola Press, Chicago.

Father Jim Martin, S.J., her colleague at America, has this to say about Kerry Weber: “Kerry Weber is one of the brightest new voices in American Catholicism.  “In all of her writing, she combines a deep faith, a talent for crystal clear writing and and eye for the inspirational, lighthearted and even humorous. Kerry's new book is a wonderful introduction to mercy in the modern world, and it deserves a wide, wide readership.”

In the pages and pixels of America during the last four years, Weber’s articles and blogs have examined post-Katrina suffering; the ignored refugees of Iraq; interfaith dialogue; new ideas for Catholic education; women in the Catholic Church; transforming prisoners through education; and many other examples of Mercy at work in the world.

Her presence in crucial tasks of the moment is backed by a deep understanding of Catholic tradition and literature. Weber has written about the homes of Catholic writers, and introduced a slide-show tour of the homes by reflecting on one of her favorite authors: “I was first introduced to the work of Flannery O'Connor in a literature class during my freshman year of college. Since that time, I have spent hours reading her stories, as well as a good deal about O'Connor herself–and I have not been shy about voicing my enthusiasm. (My car bears a bright, blue "I'd rather be reading Flannery O'Connor" bumper sticker.)

As down-to-earth as any other thirty-something, she’ll chat about what her father has taught her about fixing cars or how the rhythm of sewing can be inspirational to prayer. Many of her stories are about her own family, as in this description of going to Church with them one Christmas: “Sitting in a pew at the cathedral, we are reminded not only of the transformative power of one child, but also of the need to trust in the value of the childlike humility we are all called to embody. It is a time when we are asked, once again, not simply to remember Christ’s love, but to take up our place in the long line of those who have come after him—proclaiming a message of joy, peace and redemption—and to continue every day, in one voice, as one family in Christ, to carry on that tradition.”

First, let's ask about your day job. How did you become Managing Editor of America magazine?

I started working at America a few months after finishing graduate school in 2009. I've been involved with the Catholic press in some capacity since I was 16, when I began working part time for our diocesan newspaper and television program in Springfield, Mass. My friends used to joke that if I wasn't careful I'd get stuck working in the Catholic press forever, but at some point working in this field became a real choice and a meaningful way for me to combine my faith and my everyday life. I'd always admired America, and I feel extremely grateful to work with the kind, intelligent and faith-filled people who make up the staff.  

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