Maryknoll Lay Missioner From Hopewell Junction to Serve in Tanzania


Laurie Rumpf, a parishioner of St. Columba in Hopewell Junction, is on her way today to Tanzania for a 3 ½-lf-year mission on behalf of Maryknoll Lay Missioners. She took off from JFK Airport, will change planes in the Middle East and take off to Africa, then board a small plane to her mission site.

Ms. Rumpf will serve in Tanzania at a Maryknoll center for children and adults living with HIV/AIDS. She has a background in social services. Her primary occupation over the years was as a fundraiser and events planner. She is one of 13 Maryknoll missioners from 10 states in the largest MLM class since 2005.     

She previously worked as a major-gifts officer for the Maryknoll Lay Missioners, and she was an active volunteer at John F. Kennedy Catholic Preparatory School in Somers, from which the youngest of her three sons graduated. More recently she worked for Bread for the World.

“I leave on Dec. 30 and I arrive in Tanzania on Jan. 1,” said Ms. Rumpf, 53, last week in a phone interview with Catholic New York. “There’s a transfer in the Middle East (Doha, Qatar) and I travel to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania; then from there I take a small plane to Mwanza, Tanzania, and that’s where I will attend Language School (for Swahili); that starts the first week of January. The total flying time is about 28 hours.” 

While working for Maryknoll Lay Missioners for two years, ending in 2016, she served in the development office, in fundraising. “I fell in love with them,” she said. “The work that they were doing was inspiring and transformative, and I knew that when I was ready I would love to go back (to Tanzania), actually as missioner this time.” 

She will serve at the Uzima Centre in Mwanza. Uzima is primarily a female Swahili name that means Full of Life. 

She did a three-week Maryknoll mission immersion trip in Tanzania in 2017, and one in El Salvador in 2018. “It really fills and expands my soul and my faith,” she said “Now that I have a chance to live in mission versus visiting, I feel that this is a wonderful opportunity to immerse myself in a new culture and deepen my faith.” 

Ms. Rumpf holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and art from Southern Connecticut State University. She was born and raised in East Haven, Conn.

On Dec. 11, she was one of 13 new Maryknoll lay missioners called forth and sent into mission. The sending ceremony took place at the Queen of Apostles Chapel on the Maryknoll campus in Ossining. 

The liturgy marked the completion of their eight-week orientation and formation program. The new missioners had participated in the program to prepare for cross-cultural ministries in Bolivia, Brazil, El Salvador, Kenya, Tanzania and at  the U.S.-Mexico border.

“The charisma of Maryknoll that draws me to them is difficult to explain, but they are some of the most interesting, faith-filled and courageous people I have ever known,” Ms. Rumpf said. “I am hoping that my work on this mission will help and inspire others, especially young people, to gain the faith and courage to overcome whatever issues they are facing.” 

She had thought about going into mission since college, but after she graduated, she got married and had a family. Ms. Rumpf, who is divorced, noted, “Now that my children are older, I feel very blessed to finally have this opportunity to fulfill my lifelong dream. Maryknoll missioners have a joy about them. When you come to Maryknoll you’re joining a family.“

In remarks to the new missioners during the Dec. 11 sending celebration, Robert Ellsberg, the publisher of Orbis Books, noted the call from Pope Francis to live one's life of faith as a journey. Ellsberg said that the journey of faith demands of us “a continuous willingness to go beyond ourselves, to move beyond our certainties, our comfort zones, our familiar shores and harbors, to cast our nets into the deep waters, to go where the spirit is calling us.” 

Orbis Books is the publishing arm of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers.

The new missioners were “called forth” for their 3 ½-year ministry commitments in their respective mission regions in both English and the local language, organizers said. As part of the celebration, the new missioners also received their mission crosses and expressed their commitment “to witness the Good News of Jesus Christ, in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are marginalized and oppressed.”