The First Woman to Hold Executive Post in Roman Curia

Interview With Salesian Sister Enrica Rosanna

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 14, 2004 ( Salesian Sister Enrica Rosanna is the first woman to hold a steady executive post in an organization of the Roman Curia.

A specialist in youth issues, the new undersecretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and for Societies of Apostolic Life says in this interview with ZENIT that the future of religious life depends on giving young generations an “integral education” that will lead them to commitment.

Q: It is unheard-of to have a woman in an important post in the Vatican. Were you expecting it?

Sister Rosanna: No, without a shadow of a doubt. The appointment took me by surprise. It is absolutely true that God never ceases to surprise us, with acts of trust that at times we are incapable of understanding at the moment.

Q: Does your occupying a post that was always taken by a man mean there has been a change in mentality in the structures of the Curia?

Sister Rosanna: I think that the examples of collaboration are numerous, although obviously there is always room for improvement.

In my case, I have always been given trust and I have been willing to learn, collaborate and serve.

I have sought to give the best of myself and I am happy with what I have done, but above all I am happy about the experiences I have had and what I have learned.

I have met wonderful people in my work, who have enriched my life and helped me to appreciate what is different, new and worthwhile.

Q: You belong to a religious congregation for women. What contribution will this perspective make to your work in the Curia?

Sister Rosanna: Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello have taught us to love the Church; they loved it and served it with all their energies, dedicating themselves to the education of youth.

Every day, when I pass by St. Peter’s Basilica, I pause for a moment to look at the picture of Mother Mazzarello and the statue of Don Bosco — they face one another — and I ask them to give me that love toward the Church and toward the Vicar of Christ that characterized their lives and led them to spend themselves totally with joy to educate youth, especially the poorest.

My work in the Curia is a gesture of confidence of the Holy Father not only toward me but toward my institute, and it is a stimulus for each Daughter of Mary Help of Christians to be renewed in faithfulness to the Vicar of Christ and in sincere and generous adherence to his teachings.

Q: Is the fact that people are abandoning the religious life a sign of our times?

Sister Rosanna: Unfortunately, there are also abandonments in the religious life. But we cannot deny that there are resurgences too, especially in some countries.

I am convinced that God keeps calling us to follow him, but there are too many reasons that impede young people from hearing God’s voice.

We must look at reality with hope, giving joyful witness of our following of Christ, despite aging, difficulties of all kinds, and abandonments.

If we have hope, our institutes will have life. With our lives we must say to young people how beautiful and thrilling it is to follow the Lord.

We must help young people to follow Jesus Christ, and to be committed to him and with him in translating the Sermon on the Mount in our today; to discover the new poor in the era of multinationals; to be able to see the afflicted, in the context of terrorism, the forgotten wars, endemic diseases, in order to console them. Also, we must struggle for the dignity of persons, opposing the traffic of women and children and the organ market, to protect life where it is threatened and to accept immigrants with compassion.

Q: As an expert in youth issues, do you think that today’s young people are afraid of commitments, of definitive options?

Sister Rosanna: Rather than accusing young people, I would put the accent on teachers, beginning with the parents.

From my point of view, it is urgent to return to education, to rediscover the role of integral education, of which young people are in such great need in order to grow.

It is necessary to have confidence in young people’s potential and to help them to grow, to mature, to commit themselves also in the service of others.

I was very impressed especially by a letter written by some youths after the attack on New York’s twin towers.

They sent it to the powerful of the world, and it describes very well what young people want. “Dear Sirs, you who think that you can build a new world with war, know that we, young people, are not in agreement. We ask you to listen to us. Beginning today, change your policies, your economics, and your information. Place yourselves again at the service of men and women. We do not want egoistic, powerful men, but credible moral authorities who will say ‘enough’ to hunger, war, the mafias, the great corruption. The millennium that has started needs our youthful creativity and enthusiasm.”

I believe in these young people, I place my hope in them, and I want my commitment in the Church to be an act of love for the Lord and young people.

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