Greetings, new friends! With a joyful and open heart I would like to introduce myself. I am Susan Gunn and I will serve as the Communications and Outreach Associate for the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach (CCAO) in Washington, DC. My life’s journey has brought me here via Rhode Island, Washington, DC and China. All of these are special landmarks in the Columbans’ journey as well.
I was raised by an Irish Catholic family in Warwick, Rhode Island, where most of my relatives still reside. My last name was McCarthy then and I loved going to my Catholic elementary school and to PawSox games.
When it was time for college, I moved to Washington, DC to attend the School of International Studies at American University and study Mandarin Chinese in Beijing in 1991. Upon graduation in 1993, I immediately returned to China to serve as an English teacher with the Amity Foundation, seconded by the National Council of Churches USA.
Those three years of service in Fujian and Anhui provinces, as well as a year of travel throughout mainland China, Hong Kong, Tibet, Nepal, India, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand, profoundly shaped my understanding of God’s love and my baptismal call to mission.
This was my first experience as “the other,” the foreigner, the only Catholic working for a Protestant organization, the privileged American, the odd person without family in a society structured around family systems. Over three years I built a full life, and I even found my husband there. I married Scott Gunn, another American serving the Amity Foundation. Scott and I returned to the U.S. in 1997 and settled in Washington, DC.
Since then, Scott and I have had three children, all girls ages 8, 11 and 13. I earned a Master degree in International Development Management from American University and worked at various international development and relief organizations. Most recently I was on the staff of the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, the DC-based JPIC office for Maryknoll. I look forward to learning more about mission through the Columban experience. I thank you for this invitation and I gladly accept with hope and gratitude.