Part of my purpose in launching a new website at CatholicTourist.com relates to some exciting news I recently received – I will be traveling to Rwanda! For the past two years, I have been working in partnership with Catholic Relief Services to use my platform at CatholicMom.com to support the good work being done around the world by CRS.
For those who are not familiar with CRS, here is an overview of their services:
Catholic Relief Services was founded in 1943 by the Catholic Bishops of the United States to serve World War II survivors in Europe. Since then, we have expanded in size to reach more than 100 million people in 91 countries on five continents. Our mission is to assist impoverished and disadvantaged people overseas, working in the spirit of Catholic social teaching to promote the sacredness of human life and the dignity of the human person. Although our mission is rooted in the Catholic faith, our operations serve people based solely on need, regardless of their race, religion or ethnicity. Within the United States, CRS engages Catholics to live their faith in solidarity with the poor and suffering people of the world. continue
Last year, I learned about CRS’ Egan Fellowship, a unique and intensive one-week program providing the opportunity to report on poverty and related humanitarian work in a developing country. For 2013, applicants were invited to apply for the fellowship, which would invite selected fellows to travel to Rwanda to view firsthand the work being done by Catholic Relief Services:
The selected fellows will travel with CRS to Rwanda in the fall to witness firsthand the work of CRS and the Catholic Church on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. CRS has been active in Rwanda since 1960 and began an immediate response to the emergency needs of the ravaged country following the 1994 genocide. Today, CRS and the Church continue their work in Rwanda in a number of sectors, including peacebuilding, agriculture, health and microfinance.
Doubting myself but convicted about the good that could potentially come from sharing an amazing experience such as this one via social media, I decided to apply. As you can imagine, I felt a great deal of trepidation about applying for a “journalism” fellowship. But after praying about the opportunity and discussing it with my husband and family, I placed the situation squarely in God’s hands. If God wanted me on the trip to Rwanda, he would pave the way. If I wasn’t selected, I would continue to back CRS’ efforts from behind my keyboard and monitor.
On the afternoon of June 12, I was standing in the airport in Dallas waiting to catch a flight home from Birmingham when I decided to give my email one last, quick check before my flight. Imagine my delight and amazement when I saw an email from Catholic Relief Services’ Director of Communications John Rivera, informing me of my selection as one of the Egan fellows! I quickly dialed my husband’s cell phone to share my amazing news. When Greg answered, a huge lump in my throat — the result of so much joy and excitement — kept me from speaking. When I was finally able to whisper the amazing news that I would be journeying to Rwanda, Greg shared my joy. How fortunate am I to have a spouse who so unconditionally stands behind my vocation?!
The Egan Fellows who will be traveling with me in October are:
- Kerry Weber, associate editor at America magazine
- Michelle Bauman of Catholic News Agency/EWTN
- Ron Lajoie of Catholic New York
In pondering and praying about what an amazing opportunity I will have to travel to Rwanda, I decided that I simply could not wait until next October to begin sharing this experience with you — my friends and readers. So today, you’re reading the very first installment of my “Rwanda Journal”. These travelogue entries will occur on a non-regulated basis over the next several months as I prepare for the adventure of a lifetime. I plan to share here my preparations for the trip, the things I learn both about Rwanda and about how her people are being served by the Church through CRS, and also some practical matters for someone like me who is traveling to Rwanda for the very first time.
Let me clarify that the Egan Fellowship is not a “tour” or a “sightseeing” trip. The purpose of this journey is to observe the amazing work of Catholic Relief Services and to share that mission with the world. Along the way, I will be employing social media tools, blog entries, photos and videos to bring you along on this trip.
Please keep me and my fellow travelers from both CRS and other media outlets in your prayers as we ready ourselves to be a worthy Egan Fellows. You can learn more about the Egan Fellowship here.
Copyright 2013 Lisa M. Hendey