September 17, 2021

Immigrant strives to live the pope’s hope for humanity

The LaRouche family poses for a photo with Brianna, left, and Nina in the front while Noah, left, Dominic and Andrew are behind them. (Submitted photo)

The LaRouche family poses for a photo with Brianna, left, and Nina in the front while Noah, left, Dominic and Andrew are behind them. (Submitted photo)

By John Shaughnessy

Listening to his story of growing up in Africa, coming to the United States for college, and building a life and a family in Indiana, there’s a feeling that Andrew LaRouche tries to live the hope that Pope Francis has for the world.

In promoting the World Day of Migrants and Refugees on Sept. 26, the pope shared this vision, “We are all in the same boat and called to work together so that there will be no more walls that separate us, no longer others, but only a single we, encompassing all of humanity.”

(Related: Migration Week calls people to care for the vulnerable)

At 52, LaRouche has experienced the reality of the pope’s vision. The member of Our Lady of the Greenwood Parish in Greenwood has also witnessed the challenges to that vision.

Growing up in the African country of Malawi, LaRouche saw firsthand how people from different nations and cultures could come together in harmony.

His Caucasian father had left his home in Canada to help start the first Catholic high school in Malawi, the country where he would fall in love and marry a native of Malawi who would become LaRouche’s mom.

Beyond his family, LaRouche also experienced the unity of humanity by attending schools in Malawi where he became friends with youths from around the world.

“I was very fortunate to have this unique experience of going to a school with people around the world,” he says. “And having a Canadian dad and a Malawian mom gave me a unique perspective of the world, too. My dad loved being in Malawi. He taught for 48 years before he passed away.”

There was also the challenging reality of life that he witnessed growing up, and that continues today.

“For the average Malawi family, life is tough,” LaRouche says. “Most are only making a few dollars a day. Both my parents were teachers. They did fine. Some Malawians are so poor they can’t afford a pair of shoes.”

LaRouche’s worldview has also given him an insightful perspective on life in the United States since he arrived in this country 33 years ago as a college student and an immigrant.

“Here, 99.9% of my experiences have been positive. I think Americans are welcoming people in general. Today, it seems bad,” he says about the political and social divisiveness in the country. “But that doesn’t really show the big picture. America is a great place to live.”

LaRouche arrived in the United States in 1989, attending a small college in Kansas where he pursued a degree in chemistry and eventually earned a scholarship for his prowess as a runner in track and cross country.

“The college was in a small town of about 30,000 people,” he says. “I did feel lonely on holidays, but people were very friendly there. They would invite me to their homes for Thanksgiving. I met some good friends there.”

He also met his wife, a Kansas native, at the college.

“I was a teaching assistant. She was one of my students,” he says. “People make fun of me for that one.”

He shares that memory with a laugh. He also shares the gratitude he has for the way his wife’s family welcomed him and embraced him.

He and his wife of 23 years, Nina, moved to the Indianapolis area in 1999. Since then, they have become the parents of three children. Dominic and Brianna are twins and seniors at Roncalli High School in Indianapolis. Noah is an eighth-grade student at Our Lady of the Greenwood School.

“We’ve been happy,” LaRouche says about his children’s Catholic education. “They’ve done well academically. They’ve made good friends.”

The Catholic faith he grew up with has also remained a constant in his life and the life of their family.

As he drives to his work as a chemist at a company in Columbus, he listens to a podcast that features the daily Mass readings. During his daily 45-minute runs, he recites the Our Father and Hail Mary. The family also prays before every meal and participates in Mass every Sunday.

“We fail sometimes, but we try to make our faith central to everything we do,” he says.

Sharing his blessings with others has also been an integral part of living his faith.

“As an immigrant, I have thought about how to give back to this country I now call home,” he says. “I have helped at [the] St. Vincent de Paul Society. We have volunteered as a family at the Lord’s Pantry at Anna’s House [a community service center in Indianapolis that was created to serve people in need].

“Some of the most satisfying things for me are hiring students from the local college by my employment to work in my lab and then see them moving on to well-paying and rewarding careers.”

For LaRouche, it’s all part of living out a vision of humanity embraced by his parents, the friends he made in school from different countries, his wife’s family when they welcomed him with open arms, and the friends that he, his wife and his children have made in their lives in Indiana.

“I came to this country and got a great education and met my American wife,” he says with joy. “I am very grateful for my life in Indy. Looking back, I would not have guessed I would be this fortunate.” †


Related: Mass, prayer services mark National Migration Week on Sept. 20-26

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