Sister Rosemarie Milazzo

Sister Rosemarie Milazzo

Current Mission Location – Maryknoll Sisters Center- Maryknoll, NY

Rosemarie, better known as Ro, Milazzo was born April 21, 1932 in Brooklyn, NY to Maria (Lo Faso) Milazzo and Ciro Milazzo. She had 9 siblings: 6 brothers: Frank, John, Joseph, Sal, Tom and Ciro, Jr. and 3 Sisters: Isabella, Santina and Cecilia. Ro graduated from Bay Ridge High School, Brooklyn in 1949.

In 1954, Ro earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, NY.

After teaching in a New York City public school for 3 years, Rosemarie Milazzo entered the Maryknoll Sisters Congregation Dec. 30, 1959 at the novitiate in Valley Park, MO. She professed First Vows August 22, 1959 in Valley Park and Final Vows June 24 in New York City.

From 1962-’63, Sister Ro was a student at Valley Park. Her first mission assignment was to Transfiguration School in New York’s Chinese section of Manhattan where she taught for four years and then was appointed principal for four more years. She worked hard to move Transfiguration School from a traditional parochial school to a community school, involving many local people in the life of the school.

Sister Ro’s first overseas mission assignment was to East Africa in 1971, and after studying Swahili, was assigned to begin teacher training at the teacher training college in Kitale, Kenya. She was there for three years and continued teacher training in Eldoret for five more years. She was home in New York for three years for family ministry, returning to Kenya in 1982. Sister Rosemarie was assigned to the Bura Tana irrigation project, an initiative set up by the World Bank and Kenya’s government to reclaim the desert. She worked there for eight years doing literacy, serving Christian communities, women’s groups, and others.

Much of her work there was building community as there were landless, homeless people brought to Bura Tana to work and live there. They were strangers to the desert, strangers to each other, and strangers to the nomads who inhabited the desert. Sister Rosemarie did much communication work, group building exercises, etc. in order to help people know one another better. The nomads living in the desert did not know Swahili, the local Language, so Sister Rosemarie taught Swahili there.

Back in New York, from 1991-1996, Sister Rosemarie served global mission as a member of the Maryknoll Sisters’ vocation ministry in Maryknoll, NY.

In 1996, she returned to Africa, this time to Mwanza, Tanzania. She began an AIDS project in the village, set up support groups, advocated for people living with HIV/AIDS, worked with orphans, and set up a school for special needs children.

In 2003, Ro was asked to be the congregational personnel director at Maryknoll, NY, for a term of four years. When she finished this ministry, she joined the Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), which offers an organized, nonviolent alternative to war. As a team, CPT members practice a lifestyle of prayer, community, and faith in the transforming power of nonviolence in their own lives and in the world. After completing CPT training in 2008, Sister Rosemarie served on peace missions in Hebron in the Middle East and with the Aboriginal Justice Team in Canada for three months. She also served on a CPT team that cared for refugees during the ongoing civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Her next CPT assignment was peace-building in northern Iraq.