Reids in the Vicksburg Post

Here is the text from the article in today's Vicksburg Post about Christopher and Katie!

On a mission
City native, wife follow 'calling' to Tanzania
by Pamela Hitchins

Chris and Katie Reid pose in downtown Vicksburg before their move to Tanzania. (Eli Baylis)

The year 2012 is not just a new year for Vicksburg native Christopher Reid. It's a time of many "news" -- new job, new home, new language, new country, new continent.

Reid, 35, a 1995 graduate of Warren Central High School, and his wife Katie, 33, a native of Philadelphia, have signed on with Maryknoll Lay Missioners, a Roman Catholic organization dedicated to living and working in poor communities in Africa, Asia and the Americas.

The Reids arrived Friday in Tanzania, on the east coast of Africa, where for the next 3 1/2 years they will bring their backgrounds in social work and community involvement to work primarily with women in the country's second largest city, Mwanza, located on Lake Victoria.

"It is a leap of faith, with some pretty big unknowns," Chris Reid said in an interview at the Highway 61 Cafe. "Will I be able to learn the language? Will they even want to talk with me? Will I be able to make a connection with them?"

On the whole, though, the Reids are excited and happy to be on their way to do the work they've trained, prayed and hoped to do.

"Even on a bad day it will still be interesting," Chris Reid said.

Family members say he's right for the challenge.

"I don't really want him to go, because he'll be away for so long, but they have to go," said his mother, Patricia Reid. "It's their calling."

"My brother's my best friend," said Erica Reid Gerdes. "I've learned so much from him throughout my life. It's difficult knowing I won't be able to see him and talk to him as often as I might like, but I'm still learning from him -- to not hold back, to take risks, to follow the passions I have, as well."

At Warren Central, Chris Reid played trumpet in the Big Blue Band and was president of the art club before going on to Hinds Community College and earning a degree in graphic arts. Katie, raised in Philadelphia, got a bachelor's degree from New York University.

Both Chris and Katie have a record of community and social service. They met in 2001 when they were members of AmeriCorps NCCC in Denver. For Chris, raised a Baptist, it was also a time of spiritual seeking and discovering the Catholic church, he said.

At the same time, some pivotal reading, like Barbara Kingsolver's "The Poisonwood Bible," got him interested in Africa, and Bible studies and Catholic instructional classes he attended sparked his desire to work for social causes.

"I was really struck by the stories of the people that were down in the dirt and working to help others," Chris Reid said. "Yes, the history of the church, the hierarchy, these things were interesting, too, but it was the social justice that I found inspiring. It struck a nerve with me, and here we are six or seven years later actually going to do the same thing."

Katie Reid's path was a bit more direct.

"I remember from an early age wanting to do social justice work," she said. "I also remember from an early age wanting to move to Africa. That's how I ended up with a major in social work."

Following their Americorps service, they were married in Cape May, N.J., and then moved to South Carolina where each earned master's degrees at the University of South Carolina, Columbia, and compiled extensive resumes of social work, including homelessness councils, sexual trauma victims, mental health agencies and juvenile justice programs.

Chris converted to Catholicism as he and Katie married -- not because he had to, the couple said, but because of an authentic, from-the-heart response. They began looking for ways to serve overseas, though the illness and death of Chris' father, David Reid, such a mainstay at the 61 Cafe that his hat still hangs over the door, intervened. The couple finally was able to sign on with Maryknoll this year.

"We told them, 'We want Africa, but we are so committed to this work, you can put us anywhere," Chris Reid said. "That's how called we are. Maryknoll also sends missioners to Asia and South America, and they could have sent us somewhere else. But when I interviewed, it worked out to be Africa. We got all of it. We got exactly what we wanted."

Maryknoll calls its workers "missioners," not "missionaries," and their focus is not overtly evangelistic, Chris Reid said. They respect the culture of the people and do not try to change them or effect a religious conversion. Missioners simply live among them, helping where they can.

His Maryknoll trainers told Chris that when he and Katie are able to let go of the idea of "I'm going to change the world," that's when they will actually start being effective, he said.

"Lower your expectations," he said they were told. "You are an accompanist, accompanying people in their stories."

Their first task will be attending an intensive residential language school for three months where they will learn Swahili, and then they will have a two- to three-month initiation period at their jobs, mostly honing their language skills.

The Reids will not know exactly what their duties will be until they are knee-deep into them, but Maryknoll had to provide a general job description in order for them to get visas.

Katie will be working with the Catholic Diocese of Mwanza in programming, focusing on gender-based projects like support for single mothers, gender and HIV/AIDS, and women and agriculture. Chris will work with the Buswelu Women's Cooperative, where groups of 10 women to 15 women work on income-generating projects, he said.


Wishing Christopher and Katie great success on their journey in Tanzania. We will keep them both in our prayers while they are doing their work with the Maryknoll Lay Missioners. I'm so proud of both of them and will keep track of their adventures through the blogs. Should be very interesting! A very nice pix and write-up in the paper today. May God Bless them both and keep them safe and sound! Marian :)

Thanks for posting this here! I am SOOOO excited for them! This is their dream!! XOXO

What amazing people.

I knew Chris and Katie at St. Thomas More in Columbia, SC, when they were working on their masters degrees. They will make a huge difference in the lives of those they meet in Africa, just as they have in every other place they've been.

I'm sitting here with Mom and Dad in the Day's Inn in Wytheville, VA. Just showed them your photos and they read the articles about you. They'll be in touch later, when they get to GA, but they said they are impressed big time. Me too. Love you guys!

I am impressed with what I have seen so far. Hope to stay in touch.

Grandma won't type this on her own, but she said to tell Katie that, when she was a little girl and had disagreements with her little friend, she would bite the heck out of her arm. I knew she had a great passion for correcting injustices.

Love ya',
Grammy Monster

Thanks to everyone for your nice comments, well wishes and prayers! Y'all are a great support system to me and Chris!