Home » Our People » Missioners » Profile – Debbie Northern

Debbie Northern


Year Joined MKLM: 1999

Country: U.S.-Mexico Border

Focus: Education, Peace and Justice

Project(s): Encuentro Project

Population Served: Immersion trip participants and migrants

Project Goal(s):

Accompany groups for the Encuentro Project immersion trips to El Paso, Texas, where they learn about migration to the U.S.

Current Ministry:

Debbie is the Encuentro Project Assistant and House Manager in El Paso, working with the immersion trip program, which teaches participants about the realities of migration to the United States. When there are no immersion trips, Debbie assists at migrant shelters.

Personal Data:

Debbie is originally from Warsaw, Virginia, and before joining Maryknoll Lay Missioners she served as Catholic Campus Minister at Radford University in Radford, Virginia, for 12 years. She graduated from Longwood College (Virginia) with a BA in English. Debbie also has an MA in physical education (sports communications) from the University of Iowa, an Ed.S. degree in counseling psychology from James Madison University (Virginia), a Master’s in Pastoral Studies from Loyola New Orleans (LIMEX), and a second BA in Spanish from Radford University.

Debbie originally served with Maryknoll Lay Missioners at St. Augustine University in Nyegezi, Tanzania, and taught journalism. She then transferred to El Salvador and worked at Contrasida. That program accompanies those affected by and infected with HIV/AIDS, promotes human dignity and provides training courses. Debbie assisted at the clinic and taught about gender-based violence, HIV prevention, and building self-esteem, with participative education methods.

She also served 10 years at the Maryknoll Lay Missioner Offices in Ossining, New York, as part of the Mission Services Department. Her work involved preparing and implementing the orientation program, outreach to returned missioners, and assisting with the admissions process. Debbie was involved in St. Ann’s Parish and served in prison ministry at a men’s maximum security prison.

In August 2021, she transitioned to El Paso, Texas, to work on the U.S.-Mexico border.