Jerald D. Freewalt serves the Office for Social Concerns of the Catholic Diocese of Columbus, Ohio, as the parish social concerns ministry and rural life director. In this capacity, he serves as an educator and advocate to further the understanding of the Church’s social justice teachings. Jerry joined the office in 1995 as the respect life coordinator. Jerry administers the office’s Information and Response Network, an email legislative action and disaster relief alert system.
Jerry has worked with a wide range of groups including parish respect life coordinators, parish social concerns committees, RCIA programs and parish schools of religion, youth ministry groups, parish senior citizen clubs, parish advocates for persons with disabilities, jail and prison ministers, farmers, and those serving the immigrant population. Some of the activities Jerry has worked with include: diocesan senior citizens day celebrations, diocesan respect life Masses and conferences, the annual Good Friday Downtown Stations of the Cross Walk, rural and urban immersion programs, Salt & Light Leadership Training, adult and youth retreats and days of reflection, parish missions, rural life celebrations, disabilities inclusion conferences, the creation of a parent/family network for those with children with disabilities, diversity and immigration projects, racism study circles, statewide legislative advocacy days, vigils calling for an end to the use of the death penalty, local human rights activities, and moderating public forums.
His professional affiliations include: J.O.I.N. Advisory Board (Joint Organization for Inner-City Needs); Past Chair, board of directors of the National Catholic Partnership on Disability, Washington, D.C.; Board Member of the Catholic Disability Foundation, Washington, D.C.; Past-chair of the Catholic Conference of Ohio’s Department on Social Concerns; also served on the Respect Life Committee and the Criminal Justice Committee of the Catholic Conference of Ohio; Past-chair of the Ohio Catholic Rural Life Conference; board member of the Immigrant Worker Project: We Gather and Stand Together; member of the Tri-Diocesan Mobile Ministry Steering Committee, a program to meet the needs of rural Catholic immigrants in NE Ohio; board member of the Columbus Council for Public Deliberation; board member of the Civic Life Institute at the Ohio State University; Appointed by the Governor to the Ohio Food Policy Council; member of the Office for Religious Education Inclusion Committee; member of the diocesan Adult Faith Formation Committee; member of the diocesan Catholic Youth Ministry Advisory Commission.
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The U.S. Bishops’ Catholic Campaign for Human Development selected Jerry as a national finalist for the 2001 Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award.
Jerry earned a B.A. degree in Political Science from Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio, and a Master’s degree in Public Policy and Management from The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio.
Jerry was born in Van Wert, Ohio, and raised near Ohio City. He resides in Columbus, Ohio, with his wife, and their three children. They are parishioners at St. Margaret of Cortona Church.