Pope Francis has appointed Sister Alessandra Smerilli as Under-Secretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. Born in Vasto (Chieti), in 1974, Sister Smerilli was already working at the Dicastery and the Vatican Commission for COVID-19 as coordinator of the Economy Taskforce.
The Cardinal Prefect and the entire Dicastery offer their best wishes and congratulations for a fruitful work together in the service of the universal Church and humanity.
Sister Smerilli said: "I am truly grateful to the Holy Father for this unexpected appointment, which fills my heart with joy and fear at the same time, for the difficult task that I will be called to carry out. I thank Him for the trust he has placed in me and I pray that I will be able to honour it with constant service of obedience and fidelity to Christ, to the Pope and to the whole Church. Special thanks also go to Cardinal Peter K.A. Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery.
My heart and mind turn today to St John Bosco, and to the Salesian Family. I will never forget when the vocation to religious life made its way to me. My family was at my side and supported me with that discretion that only parents in love with their children know how to give. To my mother and father goes all the affection possible at this time.
So far I have pursued a course of in-depth academic study, in Italy and abroad, for which I cannot but thank the teachers who have supported me, thanks to whom that course would perhaps not have been possible, and in particular the Pontifical Faculty of Educational Sciences "Auxilium", which has given me the opportunity to teach and to make my passion my object of study, remaining in contact with the students in a relationship that has enriched me and which, I hope, will not be interrupted.
I will now strive to bring my expertise in the field of economics and the Social Doctrine of the Church to an ever more concrete service to the mission of the Church and the Holy See. We are going through times of great trial, in which the values on which humanity has always been founded are being questioned; in which individuals and families are suffering from a devastating social, political, anthropological and cultural crisis that the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to exacerbate; in which reference points are wavering and we are called to rediscover, every day and in our own experience, what truly sustains our existence. I had the privilege, about a year ago, of being called to be part of the Vatican Commission for COVID-19, desired by Pope Francis: thanks to the work within this Commission, with the help of the Superiors of the Dicastery, many colleagues, experts, academics and external partners, believers and non-believers, we are touching with our own hands how much humanity feels wounded and needs concrete answers and love to recover. We cannot go back to the old world, we need to prepare the future well.
In the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development I immediately found a warm welcome and a lot of friendship. My contribution as Under-Secretary will try to be a contribution to people, to their needs, in particular to those who suffer most from poverty, both material and spiritual. I want to try always to walk, together with all the staff of the Dicastery and those we meet on our way, with the joy of the Gospel, because as Don Bosco said 'joy is the most beautiful creature to come out of God's hands after love'. Without forgetting that Salesian joy has also become a service to young people in their educational and working lives".