Born in Lancaster, England, Edwina Gateley earned a Teacher’s Degree from her home country, a Master’s in Theology from the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, and certification as an HIV counselor in Illinois.
In 1979 Edwina spent three months of prayer and discernment in a hermitage in the Sahara desert. This led her to Leave England for the United States where she studied for a degree in theology.
From 1981 to 1982, Edwina lived for nine months in prayer and solitude in a hermitage in Illinois. In 1983, she spent over a year on the streets of Chicago walking with the homeless and women involved in prostitution. Also in 1983, Edwina founded Genesis House – a house of hospitality and nurturing for women involved in prostitution.
Numerous groups and individuals, including the Mayor of Chicago, the late Joseph Bernardin, and Bill Clinton, former President of the United States, have publicly commended Edwina’s work and ministry. Edwina has also been featured on CBS’s “60 Minutes” and “48 Hours.”
Edwina is currently writing, giving talks and leading retreats nationally and internationally. Her programs include weekends and week-long retreats as well as parish missions. Topics include her own Faith Journey, Discipleship, Women in Scripture, Justice, Mission, Spirituality, Mysticism, and the Feminine Divine.
After three years working as a volunteer in Uganda, East Africa, Edwina felt called to invite others to offer their services in the developing world. It was the time of Vatican II when the Catholic Church began to open itself to lay involvement and ministry. After 18 months of struggling to receive church support and endorsement, Edwina founded the Volunteer Missionary Movement (VMM) in London, England to recruit, prepare and send women and men to serve in developing countries throughout the world. Since its foundation in 1979, the VMM has sent almost 3,000 lay missioners to serve in 26 countries.
The Volunteer Missionary Movement (VMM) was founded in 1969 by Edwina Gateley in response to a need for lay people to become more deeply involved in the mission life of the Church. As VMM became more widely known, it was able to send volunteers to communities in need throughout Africa, Asia, and Latin America. VMM’s United States office was opened in 1982 in the Chicago area, and subsequently was relocated in 1990. VMM-USA is governed by a ten-member Board of Directors, in consultation with VMM-USA’s membership base, and also collaborates closely with the European office in England, with two satellite offices in Liverpool, England and Glasgow, Scotland – a true international lay volunteer organization with its origins in the Catholic social justice tradition. Our Mission The Volunteer Missionary Movement (VMM) recruits lay Christians in an ecumenical spirit to witness to the Catholic social justice tradition. VMM supports their commitment to sharing their lives, resources and skills as they collaborate with domestic and overseas partners to promote equality, empower sustainable human development and challenge unjust and oppressive social structures.
The Volunteer Missionary Movement (VMM) recruits lay Christians in an ecumenical spirit to witness to the Catholic social justice tradition. VMM supports their commitment to sharing their lives, resources and skills as they collaborate with domestic and overseas partners to promote equality, empower sustainable human development and challenge unjust and oppressive social structures.
Edwina is the recipient of sixteen national and international Awards
Issac Hecker Award for Social Justice ~ Boston, MA 2009
Aggiornamento Award ~ Catholic Library Association, PA 2005
Bishop Ketteler Award ~ Sisters of Divine Providence 2005
National Leadership Award USA ~ Call to Action 1998
Doctor of Human Letters ~ Honoris Causa. Rosemont College, PA 1998
Citation: County of Erie ~ PA 1998
Oscar Romero Award ~ Mercyhurst College. Erie, PA 1998
Loretto Award ~ St. Louis, MO 1995
Clare Award ~ For women exemplifying the virtues of St. Clare of Assisi, Clinton, OH 1993
Pope John XXIII Award ~ Viterbo College. La Crosse, WI 1988
Chicago Commission of Human Relations Award ~ Chicago, IL 1986
Cook County State Attorney Recognition Award for Service to Women and Children ~ Chicago, IL 1986
Association of Chicago Priests Award ~ Chicago, IL 1986
US Catholic Mission Board, Annual Award, 1986
Spirit of St. Francis Award ~ Outstanding Laywoman in the State of Illinois 1984
Catholic Woman of the Year ~ England and Wales 1979