Faith on the Move: Amy Welborn

Amy Welborn

Amy Welborn

I am a HUGE Amy Welborn fangirl. Long before I ever had books of my own, I devoured Amy’s writing both in the Catholic blogosphere and in print. Not only does her writing sing, but Amy’s zest for life and her faith has been apparent in good times and challenging ones. Amy’s book Wish You Were Here: Travels Through Loss and Hope has remained one of my favorite works of non-fiction. Of late, her amazing children’s book (including the gorgeous Bambinelli Sunday) are a gift not only for children, but for grown ups like me as well. I love following Amy in social media because she so generously shares her adventures with her friends. She has been a source of inspiration to me in my own journey as a Catholic mom. I hope you enjoy getting to know this amazing woman too!



Amy Welborn


Mom, writer




Social Media Links:

Tell us a bit about yourself:

I am a 54-year old mother of five kids, who range in age from 32 to 10 years old.  I’ve taught theology in Catholic high schools and worked as a DRE in a Catholic parish.  I have a BA in history from the University of Tennessee and an MA in Religion (Church History) from Vanderbilt University.  I’ve spent the last 25 years writing columns, devotionals, articles and books, mostly (okay, all) for the Catholic market.  I’m a widow – my husband, Mike Dubruiel, died in 2009.  I live in Alabama at the moment.

How often do you travel?

I travel a lot.  And when I say “travel” – I include traveling in my own state and region as well as to other states and countries.  My city has a lot to offer, but so do other cities in my state and in my region.  The Southeast is a great part of the country, especially when it comes to natural features.  I live a few hours from beach in one direction and mountains in another. The region is full of interesting, quirky cultural and historical sites.  i grew up in a household in which we hardly ever went on any trip that wasn’t to visit family, and there was really no reason for such limited travel.  My parents had the means and opportunity to travel, even just to interesting spots around our home, but we never did. From the age of 13 to 18, I lived 30 miles from the Smokey Mountains National Park with my family…and we never went once. I’ve been determined to raise my family differently.  So we go. 

I didn’t travel outside of the United States except for Canada until I was 45 years old. Since then, I’ve been trying to make up for lost time. We’ve been averaging one trip outside of the United States a year. Our biggest adventure was in the fall of 2012 during which the youngest two and I spent three months abroad, in France and then Italy.

This past year (2014), we’ve done a ridiculous amount of travelling. We’ve been to Mexico, Chicago (that was business for me, but they went along), St. Louis, Charleston a couple of times (my son, daughter-in-law and grandson live there, so we have great reasons to visit that wonderful city often now), Atlanta (only two hours away), Montgomery (same), Mobile, New York City, and then, over Thanksgiving, Germany to visit my daughter who lives there now. It’s been pretty crazy.

Is the majority of your travel for business, pleasure, spiritual enrichment, or “all of the above”?

In the sense that I do end up writing about our trips, I suppose you could say, “all of the above.” But I’d also add “education” to that list of reasons.   I travel with my children in order to give them (and me) amazing opportunities to learn about history, culture, art and most importantly, about different people and cultures around the world.

Pardon me while I continue on this point, because it’s very important to me. One of the great temptations of human existence is to focus inward, to believe that the way we live is the norm for the human race, and, taking a slightly different angle, we are tempted to believe that our particular problems and issues are the center of concern for the rest of the human race as well.

Part of the reason travel is important to me is to force myself into confrontation with the reality that my way is not the only way, but help my kids to see that. We’ve not travelled that far afield – we’ve never been to Asia, for example – but there are still enough differences, even among Western nations, for them to learn these lessons on a daily basis on our travels.

In other words, to bring it down to a very practical level, I want my two youngest, one now a teenager and the other on the cusp of pre-teenhood, to understand that the world is a very big place and the values and judgments of a bunch of 9th graders in one corner of the United States should not determine how you think of yourself and the world.

I want them to understand how very different people are – but how we are also the same in our shared humanity, created by a loving God.

The other educational aspect of travelling is the confidence gained from traveling itself. Kids gain these skills in all sorts of ways as they grow up – from assuming responsibilities in the home, through sports, through leadership roles in school, through participation in the arts – but there’s something character-building about being plopped in the middle of a city where you don’t speak the language and aren’t really sure where to go and how to get there. My kids are confident, curious, open-minded, responsible and respectful travelers, and I’m proud of them for that.

Where are some of your favorite destinations?

As I said above, I love travelling in my own region. The Southeast, and particularly Alabama, are beautiful places. We have wonderful museums in the Southeast, of all kinds. Alabama is one of the most geographically diverse states in the United States. I enjoy travelling to our forested areas, mountains and beaches and exploring the quirky roadside stuff that is such an engaging element of the American landscape.

I love New York City. I’m such a hayseed about it, too. When I go, I always spend time with my friend and collaborator Ann Engelhart, who is a lifelong New Yorker – born in Queens, now living on Long Island – and I’m sure she’s amused by my gawking and the fact that I always, without fail, manage to say at least once, “I can’t believe people actually live here” – and I mean that in a good way.

Coastal California is magical to me, and while I’ve been a couple of times, I look forward to returning.

When it comes to Europe, there is much I haven’t seen – most of it, in fact, of course – but if I could go back to only one spot in Europe, it would be Italy. Anywhere in Italy.

In general, I have developed a real love for mid-sized European cities and towns – Padua, for example, where we spent almost a week back in 2012. There is just something about them. They have a sophisticated, cultured vibe, but most have retained that core – often medieval or at least Renaissance – centro where pedestrians rule, and there is just such a wonderful sense of community, culture and tradition without self-consciousness, irony or striving. I think I could live in a place like that.

How is travel a spiritual experience for you? How do you turn any travel opportunity into a pilgrimage?

It is absolutely a spiritual experience, because honestly, everything I do every day is a spiritual experience in that I strive to live as consciously as I can in God’s presence.   Of course going to explicitly spiritual sites emphasizes that aspect, but as I said above, for me, encountering other human beings in other places and having the opportunity to see how they live, what they value, and the amazing things they have created – that’s a profoundly spiritual aspect of travel.

What advice would you give to a fellow Catholic tourist?

Be open and brave and start where you live. Think about the places nearby that you keep saying, “We should go there…” but never do…and…go! 

What destination is on your “must see” list for the future?

Everywhere! I can’t think of a place on earth that I wouldn’t want to see. I think in the near future, though, we really want to go out West and see the Grand Canyon, the landscape of southern Utah and the Rockies (not all one trip, necessarily!).

What are some of your favorite tourism related websites, apps and books?

I am a fan of the Slow Travel website. ( It’s a community that emphasizes what it says – taking it slowly – settling in one place for a trip, rather than dashing all over the place trying to “get everything in.” Our best travel memories are from doing just that – renting an apartment and staying for a week or two, getting to know the neighborhood and just living. Our worst travel memories are from rushing around, trying to see things just to say we saw them. We don’t do that anymore, but still…the memories remain.

Any travel-related discussion board is super-helpful. You can plug in any search term and get relevant, timely answers to your questions.   Trip Advisor, Frommer’s and Fodors, as well as Slow Travel, are where I tend to settle.

Visit Amy Welborn at

Take a tour of our Faith on the Move archives to meet other Catholic Tourists




About Lisa M. Hendey

As a Catholic who loves her faith and a frequent adventurer who’s always up for a new journey, Lisa is a wife and mom, a writer, a speaker and an impassioned traveler. Visit her at to keep up with her comings and goings.

  • Ridleyson

    A heartfelt and honest interview as I have ever read.