Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

Interview With Missionary Katie Gesto


WASHINGTON, D.C., AUG. 30, 2007 (Zenit) - Three foreigners have been given orders to leave Sudan in less than a week, and according to a missionary working in the country, aid workers are periodically threatened with expulsion by the government.

Paul Barker, country director of CARE, told Reuters today that the Sudanese government's Humanitarian Aid Commission had given him 72 hours to leave the country. Although no official reason was given for the expulsion, Barker speculated to the press that it has to do with an internal e-mail he sent to CARE staff on the situation in Sudan, which was later leaked to the press.

In this interview with us, Katie Gesto says that cases like Barker's are anything but uncommon. She discusses her 10 years of missionary service in the African country as a nurse practitioner and consecrated virgin, and the challenges all aid workers face in Sudan.

Q: What is your reaction to the expulsion of the country director of CARE from Sudan?

Gesto: I am not surprised about the expulsion, as I've had many colleagues, myself included, threatened with the same. Nongovernmental organizations like CARE are suppose to be neutral, but when it comes to keeping their people secure, it can easily appear that they have lost their neutral stance.

Aid workers know the real nitty-gritty as they are living there and see with their own eyes, but if you publicly -- and e-mail is considered public these days -- declare your opinion, even though factual and true, it's common knowledge that you can get thrown out of the country.

My friend almost got classified as a persona non-grata -- PNG -- for allowing a sick Dinka on a plane leaving Sudan rather than a less sick Shilluk man; because she was in Shilluk territory. They said she was being tribal and put her under house arrest for a month and threatened to declare her a PNG.

It's not so complicated really; you have to know the volatile emotional situation all leaders are living in, and so they can react to remarks that others would think are not very significant.

Q: You have been working as a missionary in Sudan. What drew you to perhaps the most dangerous missionary territory in the world?

Gesto: Ever since grade school, I listened attentively at Mass to the stories of missionary priests and sisters. God gave me the desire to be a missionary even at that early age.

During my college years, I was involved with Campus Crusade for Christ and as a Catholic, built great friendships with students going on missions to Russia and other difficult countries.

It was then that God burned in my heart a desire to serve our brothers in persecuted countries. Certainly Sudan is on that list.

I know I can't do much alone, but when God calls, he does the work. In this beautiful work, he makes his love felt.

Q: Your work, as a nurse practitioner and a consecrated woman, was relatively independent of support from a specific group. How did you manage, both with regard to safety and basic necessities?

Gesto: The bottom line for me -- for any of us -- is "God, what do you want me to do? Where do you want me to serve?"

After getting a good sense for the country by serving as a nurse with a relief organization, Medair, I felt God wanted me to serve a bishop directly since the bishops know what the real needs of their people are.

I then contacted a Catholic bishop in Sudan and offered myself, telling him: "I'll find five volunteers, we'll raise our own money and come serve wherever you see fit."

Well, two years passed while completing my masters and I didn't find anyone, so I went in faith and served in that diocese for two years with two Ugandan priests and some sisters who were nearby.

I was very happy and grew tremendously both spiritually and from the experience with the people.

Q: While in Africa, you discerned your vocation. What was your general experience of prayer in this dangerous desert, especially at times when you feared for your life?

Gesto: I have grown tremendously since starting my service to Sudan in 1996. It is a blessing to be in a place where one never knows if they will return home.

I was prepared for this by my many years of hospice service and as far as I can tell, I am willing to die today if God wills it. As my friend who is a missionary in Somalia says, "I just hope they know how to shoot well."

One time when I was told a commander wanted to kill me because I told the bishop that I suspected him of something dishonest, it did make me nervous.

A possessed man, however, who had speared a few people in our village and who didn't like me made me even more nervous since he lived next door to the house where I slept alone. But after a few days of restless nights I said, "Enough of that! Jesus, you are more powerful than those forces! Give me the grace to let you have those fears."

For the most part these threats didn't bother me too much after that, particularly once the crazy man moved far way and the commander cooled down!

But the willingness to die for our faith is a grace we can all pray for and receive. For most of us, it won't happen physically, but for all of us it will happen spiritually if we want to grow to be like Jesus who was martyred.

I was able to hear clearly my call to be a consecrated virgin when I was in Sudan because of the lack of distractions there -- it's only me and the Lord.

I could see that God allowed me to spend extra time with him in prayer, and to be free to be sent wherever he leads and to develop a deep spousal relationship with him.

Q: What did you find to be the most pressing need among the Sudanese people?

Gesto: Unity, learning how to respect each other, and healing from the past trauma.

The more than four-decade-long war has broken down good cultural values and the sense of dignity as persons. People have learned to often just fend for themselves, which has opened the door to corruption, tribal fighting, witchcraft and other detrimental things.

When, through the Gospel, they learn to care for each other in simple ways, they begin to heal and also want to educate their kids -- particularly their girls who are so in need of education.

As this process continues, they will then hopefully work as a community to build the Church and culture and economically provide for each other.

Q: Upon returning to the United States after your time in Africa, what is most difficult in your transition back to everyday life?

Gesto: Time. Everyone is in such a hurry and worried about such petty things. There is a lack of simplicity evidenced by constant spending of money on useless things.

People don't seem to have time for talking, laughing, or "being." I have to watch myself to keep from getting swept into this rat race.

All these distractions seep inside me and I have to work at creating an environment that supports interior silence so that I can "be" with Jesus -- a much easier challenge in Africa!

Contact

Catholic Online
http://www.catholic.org CA, US
Catholic Online - Publisher, 661 869-1000

Email

info@yourcatholicvoice.org

Keywords

Sudan, Gesto, Care, War, Hunger, Solidarity, Africa

More Catholic PRWire

Showing 1 - 250 of 4,719

A Recession Antidote
Randy Hain

Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

The Why of Jesus' Death: A Pauline Perspective
Jerom Paul

A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell

My Dad
JoMarie Grinkiewicz

Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell

Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Catholic Online

Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Catholic Online

Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
Catholic Online

State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Catholic Online

Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
Catholic Online

2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Catholic Online

Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Catholic Online

Franchising to Evangelize
Catholic Online

Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Catholic Online

Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Catholic Online

Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Catholic Online

Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Catholic Online

Full Circle
Robert Gieb

Three words to a deeper faith
Paul Sposite

Relections for Lent 2009
chris anthony

Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell

World Food Program Director on Lent
Catholic Online

Moral Clarity
DAN SHEA

Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Catholic Online

A Prayer for Monaco: Remembering the Faith Legacy of Prince Rainier III & Princess Grace and Contemplating the Moral Challenges of Prince Albert II
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe

Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Sally Connolly

Glimpse of Me
Sarah Reinhard

The 3 stages of life
Michele Szekely

Sex and the Married Woman
Cheryl Dickow

A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Cheryl Dickow

Modernity & Morality
Dan Shea

Just a Minute
Sarah Reinhard

Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Hugh McNichol

Edging God Out
Paul Sposite

Burying a St. Joseph Statue
Cheryl Dickow

George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Catholic Online

Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell

Action Changes Things: Teaching our Kids about Community Service
Lisa Hendey

Easter... A Way of Life
Paul Spoisite

Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Hugh McNichol

Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Hugh McNichol

Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Catholic Online

Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Catholic Online

Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Catholic Online

Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Catholic Online

Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Catholic Online

Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
Catholic Online

Holy Saturday...anticipation!
Hugh McNichol

Priestly Identity: Crisis and Renewal (Part 1)
Catholic Online

Al Qaeda...afraid of Benedict's message!
Hugh McNichol

Benedict XVI...calling all to hope...
Hugh McNichol

Perfect Women
Cheryl Dickow

Papal Palm Sunday Address - 'Enough With the Bloodshed'
Catholic Online

Spotlight on China
Catholic Online

Papal Homily for Palm Sunday
Catholic Online

Holy Week...Holy Time!
Hugh McNichol

Mary and Motherhood
Cheryl Dickow

The Void
Paul Sposite

Islamic violence wounds the global community!
Hugh McNichol

The Seven New Deadly Sins!
Hugh McNichol

Catholic benefits include Catholic principles!
Hugh McNichol

Remembering Father Alfred Kunz
Matt C. Abbott

David vs Goliath
Theresa Lisiecki

Happy Lent!
Paul Sposite

Diplomacy...Vatican style!
Hugh McNichol

Sub umbra Petri! (Under the Shadow of Saint Peter)
Hugh McNichol

Cuba...a neonascent Church!
Hugh McNichol

Kids in Conflict
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On the Writings of St. Augustine
Catholic Online

The Relevance of Lourdes at 150
Catholic Online

Hillary...what would Saint Norbert say!
Hugh McNichol

Lent...questions, answers and involvement!
Hugh McNichol

Mary, Mother of all Humanity, Hic et Nunc!
Hugh McNichol

Catholics...WAKE UP!
Hugh McNichol

Catholic Brotherhood with the People of the Covenant
Hugh McNichol

Have mercy on us O Lord! - Ash Wednesday
Hugh McNichol

Vote early, vote Catholic!
Hugh McNichol

Christ, our global Alpha and Omega!
Hugh McNichol

Being Catholic means...total affirmation of being Catholic!
Hugh McNichol

Seeing the World through New Eyes
Sarah Reinhard

Emulating the Angelic Doctor!
Hugh McNichol

Priests defend, commend Archbishop Raymond Burke
Matt C. Abbott

Saint Paul...a continued example of radical conversion!
Hugh McNichol

A renaissance of faith, reason and global cooperation....
Hugh McNichol

Cardinal Rigali's Homily at Life Vigil
Catholic Online

Angelus: On Christian Unity
Catholic Online

Silencing the Pope
Catholic Online

Papal Homily on Feast of Christ's Baptism
Catholic Online

Education and Gender
Catholic Online

The ignominy of Roe vs. Wade
Hugh McNichol

Papal Message for World Day of the Sick
Catholic Online

Angelus: On Christian Unity
Catholic Online

Benedict XVI's Planned Lecture at La Sapienza
Catholic Online

Pope's Letter to Jesuits' 35th General Congregation
Catholic Online

Fr. Cantalamessa - Behold, the Lamb of God!
Catholic Online

That We May Be One, and Never Lose Heart
Catholic Online

Sowing Hope in Sierra Leone
Catholic Online

God-incidences are the gift of kairos moments
Mary Regina Morrell

St. Augustine's Last Days
Catholic Online

Liturgy: When There's a Medical Emergency
Catholic Online

Marriage and Celibacy: Love's Link
Catholic Online

Developing a Global Catholic Awareness
Hugh McNichol

Rooms in My Father's House
Cheryl Dickow

Resolutions for New Year 2008
Chris Anthony

Keep teaching Holy Father!!!
Hugh McNichol

Dangers of anti-Catholic academic extremism....
Hugh McNichol

The liturgy war
Matt C. Abbott

Some Answers to a Few Common Questions about Vocations
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Developing a Global Catholic Awareness
Hugh McNichol

Christmas reflections
Chris Anthony

The Lasting Contribution of The Servant of God Pope John Paul II
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

No more bobble-head Jesus'!
Hugh McNichol

Pope's Address to Baptist World Alliance
Catholic Online

The Virgin Without Sin
Catholic Online

Cardinal Vingt-Trois on His New Mission
Catholic Online

Archbishop Forte on Religion & Freedom: Part 1
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On St. Chromatius of Aquileia, Pope, Benedict
Catholic Online

Pope's Address for Consistory of Cardinals
Catholic Online

Trafficking in Lives
Catholic Online

Pope Benedict - On Hope
Catholic Online

The Hidden Costs of Gambling
Catholic Online

A Vital, Life-Giving Message
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Christianity's Contribution
Catholic Online

Youth and Fashion's Modest Twist
Catholic Online

Papal Homily at the Consistory
Catholic Online

Love, Marriage and Happy Kids
Catholic Online

The Virtue of Obedience: Our Duty, Our Crown
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Vere dignum et justum est!
Hugh McNichol

Pope's Address to Bishops of Kenya
Catholic Online

Democracy in Danger in Venezuela
Catholic Online

The Life-Sapping Human Virus
Catholic Online

'You Alone Are The Lord': A Brief Summary of Catholic Teaching
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Sacred Time...Come Lord Jesus!
Hugh McNichol

How Christ-like are we in our lives?
Chris Anthony

A Retreat for Today's Christian Woman
Cheryl Dickow

Pope Benedict - On Trust in God
Catholic Online

God and Caesar Seen From Down Under
Catholic Online

Praying the Luminous Mysteries for our Clergy
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Culture's Pressure on Our Girls
Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle

Papal Message on the Common Good
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - St. Jerome on the Bible
Catholic Online

What Every Parent Should Know About 'The Golden Compass'
Catholic Online

Cardinal Poupard on 'Populorum Progressio'
Catholic Online

A Richer Liturgical Translation: Interview With Bishop Roche
Catholic Online

U.S. Bishops' Statement on War in Iraq
Catholic Online

The 'Golden Compass' is no treasure for children
Mary Regina Morrell

Bishop Skylstad's Address to U.S. Bishops' Fall Meeting
Catholic Online

Rewarding Failure
Catholic Online

On St. Martin of Tours
Catholic Online

Undermining Parents
Catholic Online

God...our theological E.F.Hutton!
Hugh McNichol

The Secular Vs. Religion?
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On St. Jerome
Catholic Online

The Scourge of Poverty
Catholic Online

Sons and Daughters of God...EQUALLY!
Hugh McNichol

On Zacchaeus the Tax Collector
Catholic Online

Why Dads Matter
Catholic Online

Archbishop Chaput on Citizenship and Evangelization
Catholic Online

God Created Man for Life, Not Death
Catholic Online

Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for November
Catholic Online

Imposing 'Tolerance'
Catholic Online

A Turn to the Fathers: Interview With Father Robert Dodaro
Catholic Online

Evangelizing a Digital World
Catholic Online

Women Religious on Human Trafficking
Catholic Online

John Crosby on Von Hildebrand's Understanding of the Person
Catholic Online

Chicago law firm fights for civil rights, against death culture
Matt C. Abbott

On the Call to Martyrdom
Catholic Online

Media Benefits and Dangers
Catholic Online

Fr. Cantalamessa - The Pharisee and the Publican
Catholic Online

Aborting Viable Lives
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On St. Ambrose of Milan
Catholic Online

'You Alone Are The Lord': A Brief Summary of Catholic Teaching
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Prostitution: Legal Work or Slavery?
Catholic Online

Address of Holy See on Religious Liberty
Catholic Online

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin on 'Populorum Progressio'
Catholic Online

Escaping Poverty: Interview With Archbishop Silvano Tomasi
Catholic Online

Christ's Parable About the Need to Pray Always
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On St. Eusebius of Vercelli
Catholic Online

Recovering subtle signs of our Catholic Identity!
Hugh McNichol

On Peace, Missions and Justice
Catholic Online

Congratulations to His Eminence John Cardinal Foley!
Hugh McNichol

Giving Ourselves Completely to Mary
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

The 'Courage' to go 'Beyond Gay'
Matt C. Abbott

When Bioethics Turned Secular
Catholic Online

Confession Comeback
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On Hilary of Poitiers
Catholic Online

Reemergence of Global Catholic Identity!
Hugh McNichol

Father Cantalamessa on the Leap of Faith
Catholic Online

Month of the Rosary
Catholic Online

Why Technology Needs Ethics
Catholic Online

Cardinal Lozano Barragán on Future of Health Care
Catholic Online

How Can Catholics Understand Mary as Co-Redemprix, Mediatrix of All Graces and Advocate?
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

New Saint Book is Visually Stunning and Filled with Detail
Lisa M. Hendey

Papal Homily in Velletri
Catholic Online

Wednesday'a Audience - On St. Cyril of Alexandria
Catholic Online

Father Cantalamessa Analyzes Relationship
Catholic Online

Holy See Address to U.N. General Assembly
Catholic Online

Homily From Red Mass in Washington
Catholic Online

Pope Remembers Cardinal Van Thuân
Catholic Online

The brave monks of Myanmar
Chris Anthony

Faith in Politics
Catholic Online

On Lazarus and World Hunger
Catholic Online

Fighting the Good Fight: Resisting Temptation
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Media frenzy buries U.N. goals

Holy See Statement on Climate Change
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On Chrysostom's Social Doctrine
Catholic Online

China's Seven Sorrows
Catholic Online

Vatican Message to Muslims for Ramadan
Catholic Online

Father Cantalamessa on the First World and Lazarus
Catholic Online

Angels, God's Messengers in a world of fragile peace and Broken promises!
Hugh McNichol

Memo to Mrs. Clinton: Why Not Baby Bonds When Life Begins?
Deacon Keith Fournier

Reorienting the Mass
Catholic Online

Report Card on Religious Freedom
Catholic Online

On Wealth and Poverty
Catholic Online

A Response to Hitchens' 'God Is Not Great'
Catholic Online

Vetoing children's health care?

The ideal family
Joseph Sinasac

Who does the judging?
Dennis Heaney

One mistake away

The Big House ban

In praise of the parish

Text of the USCCB statement for Respect Life Sunday 2007

The Outstanding Purity of Our Blessed Mother
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Educated flock

Religion and politics

Facing a door to the future
Dennis Heaney

A long debate

Who Are the True Progressives?
Deacon Keith Fournier

Petraeus offers a dose of reality

Insurgence
Robert Storr

Papal Address at Vespers
Catholic Online

Papal Coat of Arms Still Relevant
Catholic Online

Benedict XVI's Address at Heiligenkreuz Abbey
Catholic Online

On Loving Jesus as Mary Did
Catholic Online

Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos on 'Summorum Pontificum'
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On the Trip to Austria
Catholic Online

Father Cantalamessa on the Joy of Fatherhood
Catholic Online

Commentary on Artificial Hydration and Nutrition
Catholic Online

Vatican on Nutrition to Patients in Vegetative State
Catholic Online

Benedict XVI's Q-and-A Session With Youth in Loreto
Catholic Online

Take a Risk, Follow Your Call: the challenge of a lifetime!
Sisters of Bon Secours

Papal lessons

Family matters

Lessons from a tragedy
Dennis Heaney

Shopping blues
Joseph Sinasac

Marriage Breakdown: Expensive and Divisive
Catholic Online

Her darkness was a warning

The Light of Mother Teresa's Darkness - Part 2
Catholic Online

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • St. Augustine of Canterbury: Saint of the Day for Friday, May 27, 2016
  • Daily Reading for Saturday, May 28th, 2016 HD Video
  • Daily Readings for Friday, May 27, 2016
  • $3,600,000,000,000: the price to repair America
  • States revolt, 11 sue to block disruptive Obama restroom edict, ...
  • :-D MILLENNIALS REJOICE! New emoji Bible translation is coming!
  • Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta HD Video

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Genesis 14:18-20
18 Melchizedek king of Salem brought bread and wine; he was a priest of ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 110:1, 2, 3, 4
1 [Of David Psalm] Yahweh declared to my Lord, 'Take your seat at my ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 9:11-17
11 But the crowds got to know and they went after him. He made them ... Read More

Reading 2, First Corinthians 11:23-26
23 For the tradition I received from the Lord and also handed on to you ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for May 26th, 2016 Image

St. Philip Neri
May 26: If one had to choose one saint who showed the ... Read More