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Tribute To Pastor Cato Brooks, Jr.

Rep. Peter J. Visclosky

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Mr. Speaker, it is with great pride and sincerity that I wish to honor Pastor Cato Brooks, Jr. of the Tree of Life Missionary Baptist Church In Gary, Indiana, and his wife, Mrs. Bettye Brooks. The members of the Tree of Life Missionary Baptist Church will be honoring Pastor and Mrs. Brooks throughout the month of March for their many years of service to the congregation.

Pastor Brooks was born in Forrest City, Arkansas, where he attended Steward Elementary School and Lincoln High School. During high school, Pastor Brooks proved himself to be a stellar athlete, having been honored as an All-State football and basketball player. For his efforts in athletics, in 1999, Pastor Brooks was honored by his hometown and inducted into the Hall of Fame. Following high school, Pastor Brooks attended Southern University in Baton Rouge, LA and then answered the call to serve a tour of duty in the U.S. Army. Upon completion of his tour, he returned to school at the University of Kansas, seeking a degree in Sociology. Pastor Brooks has also attended the Mid-America Baptist Seminary, Ouachita Baptist University, and Indiana Christian University, where he earned a bachelor's and a master's Degree, as well as a doctorate of divinity. Pastor Brooks also received his Ph.D. in Communiology from California Western University of Palo Alto, CA.

Pastor Brooks began his ministry on January 26, 1969. He served as Pastor of the Greater Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas from 1970 to 1977 before relocating to serve as Pastor of the First Baptist Church in East Chicago, Indiana; 18 months later, Pastor Brooks organized the Tree of Life Missionary Baptist Church, serving a congregation of only 26 members, where he continues to serve today as Senior Pastor. He is also the Chairman of the Tree of Life Community Development Corporation and Care Center and a former Chaplain for the Gary Police Department.

Pastor Brooks has also achieved many accolades and accomplishments throughout his lifetime. To name a few, Pastor Brooks has been recognized by the NAACP, A Walk Without Fear, for his efforts in the civil rights movement, and on May 23, 2004, he was elected Moderator of the Northern Indiana Missionary Baptist District Association. In addition, Pastor Brooks published his first book, Studies in Ephesians, in September 2003.

The youngest of 9 children, Bettye Brooks was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, where she attended the Little Rock public schools. She later attended Arkansas Baptist College, Henderson State Teachers' College, Philander Smith College, and Indiana University Northwest. Mrs. Brooks has a degree in Business Administration and is a certified Personnel Management Specialist, Housing Counselor, and Housing Development Professional.

Mrs. Brooks has held several positions in government and community service throughout her professional career. She has been a Grants Management Supervisor for the City of Little Rock, a State Planner for the State of Arkansas, serving under then-Governor Bill Clinton, a personnel director for Pulaski County, AR, a Regional Program Specialist for the National Urban League, and an Employment Specialist for the Lake County Job Training Corporation.

After coming to Tree of Life in 1991, Mrs. Brooks became the Executive Director of the Tree of Life Community Development Corporation. In this capacity, she and her housing development partner have successfully rehabbed over 600 housing units in Gary, East Chicago, and South Bend, Indiana. In addition, Mrs. Brooks serves as the administrator for Treasure's Child Development Center and was recognized for her efforts in 1993 with the Athena Award by the Gary Chamber of Commerce. Mrs. Brooks also serves in many other capacities within the church and the community. She is a Sunday School teacher, a trustee, Executive Director of Development and Training, Finance Coordinator, and First Cook at the church. She is also a past president of the Ernie Pyle PTA and the Inter-Denomination Association of Minister Wives' and Widows' of Gary and Vicinity.

Most impressively, the Brooks's never let their accomplishments get in the way of their family. Pastor and Mrs. Brooks are also the proud parents of 6 children and 13 grandchildren.

Mr. Speaker, at this time I ask that you and my other distinguished colleagues join me in congratulating Pastor and Mrs. Cato Brooks, Jr. as they are honored for their service and ministry throughout the month of March. Their years of service have touched and improved the lives of all whom they have served. Their unselfish and lifelong dedication is worthy of the highest commendation, and I am proud to represent them in Congress.