Music and teaching became a life-long mission - Maryknoll Lay Missioners
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Tom Hinchen and Libby Avitabile with their two children, John Thomas and Naomi.

Tom Hinchen (Class of 1979) has continued his love of teaching and music since returning to the United States from Peru. During his three years in Peru, Tom worked with the Peruvian youth in catechetical programs, choirs and folkloric music groups. He especially enjoyed the opportunity to live in a small town in Peru and be with people in their daily lives.

“I am grateful to have had the time in Peru as it informs my understanding of global realities and the global Church. I also have an appreciation that there are other perspectives besides the worldview that we in the U.S. grow up with.”

One of the youth from his youth group in Peru, Juana Encalada, found her vocation as a Maryknoll Sister. She has served in Cambodia and East Timor.

Tom at his retirement from teaching

Returning to the U.S., Tom resumed his teaching career in Catholic elementary education in Brooklyn, New York, where he still resides. Last summer he retired from St. Catherine of Genoa-St. Therese of Lisieux Catholic Academy after of a total of 43 years teaching—both before and after his time with Maryknoll.

Tom and his wife, Libby Avitabile, have been married for 37 years and have two children. Tom says, “And to think that before I began as a lay missioner, a commitment of three years seemed huge!”

Tom is involved with his parish, St. Andrew the Apostle, with their sister parish in Guatemala, and in music ministry. He is also involved in a local community garden called Prospect Farm.
Tom and his wife were able to come to Jubilee 2019 to celebrate his 40th reunion with the Class of 1979.

Debbie Northern
Based in El Paso, Texas, Debbie Northern leads border immersion experiences with the Encuentro Project and assists migrants at shelters in El Paso and Ciudad Juárez.