- December 24th, 2016 -
This past weekend, as we decorated our Christmas tree while listening to my still favorite Holiday Album, Peter Mayer’s “Stars & Promises,” I was reminded of the remarkable ten days in November that I spent with dear friend Peter, my colleague Mahesh Upadhyaya, and other friends of IPM in India. After everyone else went to bed, my thoughts that night also drifted to my just concluded IPM Immersion Experience in El Salvador where a delegation from across the United States came together with countless others to commemorate the 36th Anniversary of the martyrdom of Maura Clark, Jean Donovan, Ita Ford, and Dorothy Kazel.
While I sat beside the tree, I reflected on the beauty of the early winter evening juxtaposed with the injustice that still stalks our world. Peter’s lyrics filled my mind. Songs of Harmony and Joy at a time when I know so many people across this country and world, are feeling desolate and forgotten.
This past month, those of us from the Christian tradition celebrated Advent together. It’s a special time of the year when we—like so many adherents of other faiths around the world do on other occasions throughout the year—reflect on the insatiable need for Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love in our lives.
On December 11, we encountered a passage from the Scriptures that reflects the words of the Hebrew Prophet Isaiah but are uttered by Mary, the mother of Jesus. The Magnificat proclaims: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God” who has “lifted up the lowly” and “filled the hungry with good things.” Surely, this same sense of vocational purpose guided the lives of Dorothy, Ita, Jean, and Maura just as it continues to inspire all those who work for justice and peace in our world.
My time with IPM—as a former Project Partner, a onetime Board Member, and for the past fifteen years as CEO—is a constant reminder of how love and hope are, as Peter sings, “loose in our world.” Through IPM’s Project Partners, Immersion Experience Program, generous supporters, and incredibly dedicated International Board & Staff: we continue a rich tradition of faithful partnership in a country and world where hope, peace, and love are so often in short supply.
As I write this, I am convinced more than ever, that it is not naive to believe that another world is possible. Nor is it irresponsible to remain committed to a vision of humanity that is grounded in the belief that we all have more in common than can ever truly divide us. The vision that animated IPM’s founders and continues to inspire tens of thousands of people the world over is, in fact, more essential now than ever.
So this Hanukkah, Christmas, & Kwanzaa, my prayer for each of you is that you find deeper meaning in your connection to IPM, that our remarkable work together continues to inspire your support, and that the joy of this Holiday Season remains with you and all those you hold dear throughout the coming year.
Joseph F. Cistone
December 24, 2016