Carmen Luisa Coya-van Duijn and her husband Remco flew Wednesday afternoon from Flowery Branch to her home state of New York for Pope Francis’ U.S. visit, a man she knows will “help move mountains.”
“I just can’t begin to express the humility that I feel to be picked for such a time as this and to be in the crux of history in the making,” Coya-van Duijn said.
Coya-van Duijn will interpret the pope’s mass 6 p.m. Friday from Spanish into English at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Now working as the communications coordinator for Prince of Peace Catholic Church, Coya-van Duijn remembers returning from spreading her grandmother’s ashes at the Vatican and the excitement of the first pope from the Americas.
“I see the pope is going to challenge leaders, appeal to their heart, emphasize Dr. (Martin Luther) King’s message of love and remind people of the necessity of being merciful and just,” Coya-van Duijn said.
The Flowery Branch woman first worked in television as a former producer for MTV, CNN and other networks, a prior skillset she said she feels will aid her work Friday night.
Coya-van Duijn recalled being “thirsty for the word” and deciding to study theology at Liberty University, wanting to learn about the split in the Christian faith between its denominations.
One of her greatest wishes, Coya-van Duijn said, is for a more collaborative relationship in the Christian community, where the faithful “all sit together at the table and be good stewards” and defend the voiceless.
“Of all the places Georgia, the cradle of the civil rights movement, why not here? Why not be the cradle of the ecumenical alignment of all of these denominations and show the world that we can put our differences aside and work together to eradicate issues?” Coya-van Duijn asked.
The concerns for the community, Coya-van Duijn said, include serving the poor and finding homes for those entering foster care.
“Leaders are not necessarily the ones behind the pulpit,” she said. “It’s every individual that is called to serve Christ that has a responsibility socially and morally and economically to lift each one of their brothers and sisters up.”