Karen Bortvedt
Karen Bortvedt

Karen Bortvedt, a graduate of the University of Portland, has joined Maryknoll Lay Missioners. When in Portland, she attends St. Juan Diego Parish, where she has spoken to the youth group about mission work.

Originally introduced to Maryknoll eight years ago, Bortvedt has kept the venerable mission group on her radar ever since. It seemed to fit the life she wanted to lead.

Being a missioner means a simple life of service.

"I enjoy living in solidarity with those around me and keeping wants versus needs clear in my day-to-day life," she says. "I also enjoy a sense of purpose contributing to something larger than my own small reality with the skills I have acquired along life’s path."

Bortvedt has a passion for travel, international experiences, and cross-cultural exchange, another Maryknoll fit.

"I believe strongly in the growth that comes from the challenge and joy of adapting to a new culture and learning a different perspective on life," she says. She says the African social concept of ubuntu – "I am because you are" — is a guiding principle. "The best way to really experience that is to step outside my comfortable reality into another’s," she explains.

"I truly believe we were all placed on this earth to care for one another, and creation, and strive for my life to be an example of such to all those I encounter," Bortvedt concludes.

Maryknoll Lay Missioners, linked to a longtime U.S. Catholic missionary order, works with poor communities in Africa, Asia, and the Americas, responding to basic needs and seeking to create "a more just and compassionate world."

To learn more about Maryknoll Lay Missioners, go to www.MKLM.org.