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Religious sister will volunteer as lawyer in Roman courts to serve the poor


Julija Ogrodowski | Shutterstock

Gelsomino Del Guercio - published on 09/09/21

Sister Francesca wanted to be a lawyer and had a religious vocation -- but then she realized she could do both.

This is the story of Sister Francesca, a 27-year-old who first embraced temporary religious vows and then earned her law degree with a thesis in criminal law.  

“I’m at the service of the poor”

Sr. Francesca has no profiles on either Facebook or Instagram, writes Corriere della Sera (Rome). She generally wants to keep a low profile, as does the congregation to which she belongs (which in fact wishes to remain anonymous). However, her religious superiors have given her permission to tell her story, because it reflects an important fact about the Church and members of religious communities: They are present in everyday life and at the service of those most in need. Sr. Francisca tells Corriere:

“Why do I want to be a lawyer? St. Francis of Assisi asked to live in poverty, which for him meant working with his own hands to live like the poor among the poor. Today, for most people, having a pending legal case falls under the poverty of our time.” 

The presence of a religious in full habit, currently as a legal intern (soon to take the state exam required to become a practicing lawyer) catches some judges and lawyers off guard, Corriere reports. When they ask her what she’s doing there, she replies, “I’m at the service of the poor.”

While the Corriere article doesn’t offer many details, it appears that the sister’s interest in studying law may have preceded her religious vocation, but she had left it behind to enter the convent. Then she realized that the two things could be compatible. “At that point, I put religious life together with a talent that the Lord has given me, which is my passion for law.”

After her first religious vows she started this academic trajectory, which took her from Salerno in southern Italy to Rome, where she has been splitting her time between the convent and law studies.

“My path to graduation was challenging,” recalls Francesca, “but I wouldn’t say tiring because I really liked what I was studying.” Now she just has to pass the exam to allow her to practice law in court; that is projected to happen by early 2023. 

In the meantime, she is studying assiduously. Her director tells Corriere, “She knows more law than I do, and I’m not kidding!” 

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