As we enter 2012, one thing that should be on all our minds is how we can make the new year even better than the last. For good reason, the new year provides the impetus to think about our goals for the year to come and how we might live more like Christ in 2012. What’s your resolution? If you haven’t yet thought of one, we invite you to take some quiet time and ask yourself how God is calling you nearer to Him in this year and how you might respond. We invite you to also consider experiencing Columban mission in 2012. There are a number of ways you can join us.
The Columban Internship program is the cornerstone of the Columban Center for Advocacy & Outreach (CCAO). Spring and fall semester internships give those living in the Washington, D.C., area the opportunity to participate in the advocacy process using their faith as a starting point. Interns begin by researching a specific advocacy area or country, and follow through with letters to members of Congress, Capitol Hill visits, and meetings with interfaith agencies. Interns may focus their work in other areas, such as communications or website design, depending on their skills. A full-time six week summer internship is also offered but is typically reserved for individuals from outside the D.C. region. The internship is an opportunity to bridge faith and justice and work towards structural change. One former intern shared that “it is so humbling to assist in bridging gaps, reaching out to our brothers and sisters in Columban mission countries and beyond. It reminded me that I’m a part of something important and something bigger than myself.”
Longer-term domestic and international volunteer opportunities are available in several Columban locations. “The struggle for justice is an integral part of proclaiming the Gospel. CCAO is at the heart of that proclamation for Columbans,” shares Fr. Eamon Sheridan, member of the Society’s General Council and Central JPIC Coordinator. To that end, the CCAO office in Washington, D.C., accepts volunteers for a minimum of six months for advocacy positions similar in nature to the work of interns but more in depth. Volunteers live simply and in community with others working in service in the nation’s capital.
If you want to serve abroad, there are teaching positions available through AITECE (Association for International Teaching, Educational and Cultural Exchange), a program which facilitates placing people as teachers who witness their Christian values of respect, generosity, and service. AITECE volunteers spend a year working at a Chinese university in poorer areas of the country, helping to build better relations through mutual sharing. There are also volunteer opportunities to spend a minimum of six months in Taiwan, working in migrant worker ministry. Both of these placements would allow the volunteer to experience a new culture and live in solidarity with those they serve. Columban priest Liam O’Callaghan says that volunteer service “has the potential to make a significant difference for so many who are suffering and struggling in many parts of the world.”
Can’t travel but still want to give? Consider supporting the Columban Fathers which offers scholarships to people who would like to serve as an intern or volunteer, or join one of our Mission Exposure trips, but are limited by financial constraints. For more information about any of these programs, contact the CCAO at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at www.columban.org/get-involved.