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Letter from Carolyn Y. Woo

by Carolyn Woo

June 24, 2011


After six months of intense and ongoing discernment, I have decided to take the challenge presented to me to serve as President and CEO of Catholic Relief Services as of Jan. 1, 2012.

Leaving Notre Dame is extremely difficult for me, because of all the love, grace and generosity that I experience every day in working on our mission and excellence. What I have here is a true family of colleagues, benefactors and alums. We have all shared the dream and the commitment to the Notre Dame mission for excellence and faith.

In fact, I think my days at Notre Dame have brought me to this point when I cannot ignore the blessings in my life. I need to give back as much as I can.

CRS serves people whose lives generally have been so violently affected that they lose their loved ones, their livelihood, their homes – everything that is so necessary to daily living. Oftentimes, the CRS team is the first appearance of hope on scenes of devastation, and the promise that a future may be possible.

They reach out to all who suffer, regardless of whether they share our faith. In some ways, they are strangers. But in the most profound ways, we know them as intimately as we know loss and the desire for a more stable life, particularly for the people we love. For us Catholics, it is the call of Christ to be His hands and feet in a world which so desperately needs to believe in and experience love, friendship, compassion and grace.

I go not because I am confident, but because this is a leap of faith. I bring what I can, which is so little, and the rest depends on God.

I hope you can appreciate how difficult this is for me. But this is truly the Notre Dame lesson that I often speak of: To have eyes, ears and heart that recognize where needs are and the confidence that comes basically from a lifetime of blessings to leave what is comfortable for what we are asked to do. My decision is just one illustration of how Notre Dame prepares every one of us for the mission of serving the greater good.

The Mendoza College is in excellent shape with momentum and a team that is one of the very best in the world.

Your support has inspired me all these years and I hope that you will keep me in your prayers.

Know that I cannot really leave Notre Dame as I am taking HER with me.

May blessings overflow.

In Notre Dame,

Carolyn