Liv's Life

Liv's blog on changemaking, travel, and faith in search of true beauty

  • Olivia R. Colombo

Life Update!

Updated: Nov 9, 2018

Hello blog!! It seems as though I fell off the face of the earth on this blog for a little bit!  Since my last post, I’ve stepped foot in seven countries and at least a dozen states, so a lot has happened! So far this year has been a year of hard work, “adulting,” some big milestones, but also lots of pure joy and adventures.  I figured I would share some of the bigger highlights here as a recap of what I’ve been up to.

At the elderly home, Haiti August 2017

The beginning of my senior year flew by.  Summer 2017 wrapped up with my first, absolutely life-changing mission trip to Haiti180.  School started, our class went up to Maine for a white water rafting class trip, and I filled my time with volunteering as a core member at Seaside Lifeteen, running the Roots & Shoots Halloween candy drive for troops, and volunteering at a shelter in Boston with my Haiti group. I published my first ever science paper (about the humanitarian crisis of the urban heat island effect using super cool thermal imaging!) and I visited the lab at Princeton where I remotely worked on that research.  Later in the fall, I packed dozens of Operation Christmas Child boxes with P3 (the St. Joe’s youth group), and I led a winter coat drive through SH Campus Ministry for coats for the homeless outreach that I was doing with Seaside… so many awesome Catholic teens doing awesome things.  I even got to represent the Jane Goodall Institute at a showing of the new JANE National Geographic Documentary.  Being busy with so much service made my heart happy.  We finished off the year with the SH Peer Ministers putting on an awesome Christmas Nativity (I was Mary!), all of us at Seaside Lifeteen and even the Discipleship Week girl gang spent countless hours skating on a rink behind the church, and a few of us from the Haiti trip went up to CatholicTV in the final days of 2017 to record a show and serve Mass.  

Senior white water rafting trip in Maine

Coats collected by SH Peer Ministry for Seaside Lifeteen's homeless outreach in Boston

 Dropping off OCC boxes...

It was a whirlwind of a fall, followed by a spring of travel.  In January, I joined some of my closest friends on the Archdiocese of Boston pilgrimage to the March for Life in Washington, DC. We had a blast, with youth rallies, the March, exploring the National Basilica, and then Mass at the JPII Shrine.  I made a quick trip to Ohio, spoke remotely at a school in Chicago about Roots & Shoots, and painted a bunch of murals for Resurrection in Hingham.  Catholic Schools Week was exciting as my CatholicTV mini series launched, and Cardinal Seán said Mass at SH.  Cardinal Seán and I crossed paths again a week or so later, when he came to give a blessing to those of us going to Haiti again… and he blessed one of my murals!!

 My beautiful BFF Kathleen and I at the MFL in DC!

Cardinal Seán's Mass & Blessing at Res with one of my new murals there. 

I left for Haiti again in February, and I had another insanely beautiful trip.  I cannot describe the happiness there.  The people have nothing, but they have faith, so they are joyful and authentic and beautiful.  I painted another mural while I was there, this time with some found brushes and wood stain.  I’m pretty sure my hands are still stained… all for God’s glory though.  I miss the kids, the people, the goats, and the country more than I can put into words.  I am forever grateful for these opportunities to travel to Haiti, and I can say that they truly have changed who I am.

March was a fun month!  I was a co-captain of our math team this year, despite power outages we ended up advancing in the competition!  The same is true with our competition plays for school theater: my last high school show was a colorful, meaningful show about building walls, and we advanced to the semifinals for the Massachusetts Theater Guild.  Also in March, I had an absolute blast speaking at Boston College on the Day for Consecrated Life on a panel about Youth Evangelization for Bishop Reed, from CatholicTV.  It was such an honor to be a panelist, and I enjoyed it so much!  It was such a special gift to be able to voice what teens of the church need and desire, answer questions, and share stories from experiences like Haiti.  Little did I know that BC would take on a special meaning a little bit later…

 Us & Them performance

Happy cast picture after we won prelims! 

 Bishop Reed & Matt Weber of CatholicTV and the three panelists

I was grateful to end my high school art journey with a second Gold Key from the Boston Globe, bringing it full circle from the first Gold Key I won in middle school.

 Gold Key Exhibit at Tufts with my "Purple Path" pastel

In April, I had the opportunity to travel to Greece!  I went on a school trip and we explored Athens and all the ancient sites, and then went on a cruise to visit several of the islands like Mykonos, Santorini, Crete, and Patmos.  I think my favorite island was either Rhodes because ancient and medieval structures collide surrounded by the teal water, or Patmos for sure!  Patmos holds a special place in the heart of Christians because it is where St. John, the gospel writer, was exiled to.  It’s that island where he was in a cave when the voice of God shook the cave, split the rock, and dictated the last book in the Bible, Revelation.  We toured the monastery at the top of the island, home to some of the most beautiful and oldest Christian iconography.  My favorite part was when we got to descend down into the cave itself, which has been made into a Greek Orthodox chapel, with candles and gold icons.  I even got to put my hand in the crack in the cave.  It was unreal.

I learned a lot in Greece, and it was fun to travel with friends, eat Greek food, and explore on our own.  The country was breathtaking. 

Once I was home, craziness of graduation season began.  AP exams, prom, our senior week, and our last day of school flew by.  One of my favorite adventures to date was with Sam, Teaghan, and Abby on our last day of school.  We tried our first Cotopaxi Questival, which is a 24 hour adventure challenge with hundreds of teams who complete nature, humanitarian, and adventure challenges.  We did everything from cooking brownies in oranges on the beach in Duxbury, to riding the train around Boston, to trying to find the graves of founding fathers in the rain.  I am certainly counting the days until we can compete and adventure in another Questival.

Questival Kick-off in Boston

Graduation week came, with highlights of receiving the Prudential Spirit of Community Bronze Medallion at Senior Awards and Fr. Sinisa coming to celebrate our Baccalaureate Mass.  I was honored to be the valedictorian and speak at graduation, as well as receiving the Sacred Heart Marie de la Roche Award.  My speech is posted below. Woohoo, high school, check!!

This summer, I spent my time painting murals for churches and for a homeless shelter, and then I went to Israel on pilgrimage in August.  This summer brought amazing memories with my friends and family, paddle boarding, hiking, geocaching, drive-in movies, and after-Mass campfires.  The last week of June I attended Discipleship Week for my last time as a student.  I cannot even begin to describe how grateful I am that shy little Olivia went to DW alone in 2016… she came out a fair bit more joyful, confident, and ready to change the world— but all because I’m surrounded by this incredible DW family who I cannot thank God for enough.

Israel was an unforgettable experience— one I will be sure to share more about soon.  For now my pictures are here.  I do have a video of the trip in the works!

 Renewing our baptismal vows in the Jordan River

Oh, and how could I forget, I'm writing this post from my dorm room of Boston College!  I am officially a proud member of BC 2022, a baby eagle!  So far I've had some amazing adventures with beautiful people that I can't wait to share about. 

Whew, there’s my update!! There are many purposes to having a blog: updating friends and family, keeping a personal log for myself, but above all it’s truly to share with the hopes of inspiring other action.  It’s an effort to “do something beautiful,” as Mother Teresa said… to share what I’m doing in hopes of learning from others and inspiring people to take action.  It’s a hope that the Lord with inspire others to travel a little more, lend a helping hand a little more, and seek Him a little more.  My only goal is to keep seeking God, true beauty and true joy, and little more by saying little yes’s. He does the rest.

As always, thank you to the people who support me in all of these incredible adventures, the ups and the downs.  I’m so thankful for all of you.  Do something beautiful.


Olivia Rose

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©2017 by Olivia R. Colombo

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