I recently had to say goodbye to some close family friends who decided to return to their family roots in Peru. Our families were best of friends. Just days before they departed, I had the chance to talk with their 9 year old daughter. I could see both sadness and anticipation in her eyes. As we talked about her impending move, what she described was bittersweet. There was the excitement of discovering family roots, making new friends, cultivating her Peruvian culture. There was also the sadness of saying goodbye to friends and family here in the U.S., and the comforts of the only home she’s known. I was grateful for the moment to share in her vulnerability as she was about to launch into a life-changing experience.
I find myself experiencing those same feelings of bittersweetness as my time as the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach’s Director comes to a close. For nearly ten years I have been blessed with the opportunity to bring the Columban mission story of Justice, Peace, Reconciliation and Dialogue to policy makers in Washington, D.C. as we seek to challenge structures and change lives. In our relationships with people, communities, and Creation that are pushed to the periphery of society, we see the vulnerable face of God who invites to love both the beauty and brokenness in our world. These Gospel relationships as well as Catholic Social Teaching are what shape our commitment to working for right relationships.
I have been blessed to walk with many people who have accepted our invitation to mission through our various intern, volunteer, and short-term mission programs. I have seen the transformative power of God’s love in people’s lives through their participation in the Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) ministry. Their service gives me hope that with God, all things are possible.
I have been blessed to walk with you, faithful friend and advocate, who responds to our calls for action, prayer, and solidarity. In your commitment to being a voice for JPIC, you bring light into the world that breaks through the darkness of poverty, exploitation, exclusion, and violence. You have been a source of strength and comfort – knowing as I do that you are tireless in your witness that the Kingdom is both here now and yet to come.
So my sadness quickly melts away into deep gratitude for our shared journey. As I begin a new ministry of service as the Columban International JPIC Coordinator, I am certain that we will remain faithful companions in the field.
It is my pleasure then to introduce you to Scott Wright, the CCAO’s new Director. Scott comes to us as a lifetime peace-maker, justice-seeker, and community-builder. From his work in Central America during the wars, to his advocacy and education in Washington, D.C. on a range of social justice issues like immigration reform, peace, and environmental justice to his accompaniment of hundreds of people in mission trips to Latin America and other places, Scott’s commitment to building relationships with all people and Creation, especially those who have been marginalized, will inspire and guide all of us as we continue in our work for the Kingdom. Please join me in welcoming Scott. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .
In closing, I want to thank you again for the many ways you live Columban mission and support the work of the CCAO. As I learned during my time in Chile, we say Hasta Pronto, confident that this not good-bye but until next time!
Peace and blessings,
Amy Woolam Echeverria