Foundation honours lawyer for her charitable works

Rosanna Saccomani is this year's winner of the Kevin Carr Leadership Award.

WCR PHOTO | CHRIS MILLER

Rosanna Saccomani is this year's winner of the Kevin Carr Leadership Award.

August 29, 2011

CHRIS MILLER
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Longtime volunteer and successful lawyer Rosanna Saccomani will soon receive the 2011 Kevin Carr Christian Leadership Award.

Saccomani will receive the eighth annual award at a luncheon at the Royal Glenora Club in Edmonton Oct. 13. The award was named for Carr, Newman Theological College's first lay president. It recognizes people whose outstanding Christian leadership reflects the values of the college and the qualities that Carr cherished in his work as president.

The award is presented by the Foundation of Newman Theological College and St. Joseph Seminary.

Saccomani's view is that Christians are called to action, and everyone serves in their own way.

As for the reasons why she won the award, "some of it is related to the work I do as a lawyer, and most of the interests I have are outside of the law, especially my love for children," she said.

Saccomani has been a lawyer with the law firm of Biamonte Cairo & Shortreed since 1984. Her emphasis has been in civil litigation, fatal accident/personal injury claims, and corporate-commercial litigation. Previously she worked in the fields of family and criminal law.

"It's very expensive to hire a lawyer, even if you're a person of means. Given the costs of litigation, most people who have a legitimate issue that should be tried in the courts don't have access to justice. It's our responsibility as lawyers to assist these people in their pursuit of justice," she said.

A member of St. Thomas More Parish and St. Benedict Chapel at City Centre East Mall, Saccomani has volunteered for causes including Habitat for Humanity, the Marian Centre, Catholic Social Services, A-21 (Abolish Human Trafficking in the 21st Century), Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Initiative and the Franciscans' 100th anniversary dinner.

PREVENT CHILD ABUSE

She is co-founder of Kids Kottage Foundation, which opened its doors in 1995 to prevent child abuse and neglect and to support families in need. About 25,000 children have stayed at the Kottage.

Nominating Saccomani for the award was Pam Miller, development director for Kids Kottage Foundation.

"She espouses Christian values in her communications and decisions. Rosanna has spent many years of her life contributing to fostering a culture that demonstrates Christian values," said Miller.

Father Collins Okafor, chaplain of St. Benedict Chapel, described Saccomani as "a true Christian, compassionate, someone who can reason, someone who can reach out to others. When others face challenges, she is always there to help."

When Okafor's car was stolen from the parking lot at Edmonton Centre, Saccomani rushed to assist him in his time of need. She helped him by contacting his insurance provider and arranging to get another vehicle for him temporarily.

"I was someone who came from far away, trying to learn and grapple with a new culture, and she helped me," said Okafor. "She has always been of great help to me in the chapel, and assists me in every challenge. I had immigration problems and she helped. Sometimes I call her my aunt."

In every action, Saccomani shows Christian leadership, which makes her deserving of the award.

"She is deserving of this award, and no one could have deserved it more. She is just a wonderful woman," said Okafor.

"My faith is very important to me, and I think about Jesus all of the time because we all have struggles in life," Saccomani said, noting that Jesus' example helps everyone through the trials of life.

"Nobody escapes those trials. We all have our crosses to bear, although if you consider what the suffering is for most in the world, our trials are very minor."

OTHER AWARDS

For her contributions to the community, Saccomani has won other awards. In 2000 she won the Woman of the Year Award, given by the Edmonton Business and Professional Women's Association. In 2005, she was bestowed with the Alberta Centennial Medal of Honour, awarded for outstanding community service. She was an Olympic torchbearer in 2010, an Edmonton representative chosen by the Royal Bank of Canada.

"In whatever Catholic parish of which she is a member, Rosanna does whatever she can to contribute to the parish life - in committees and special projects," said Franciscan Father Don MacDonald, a professor at Newman College.

Through her career, Saccomani has promoted her Christian faith, taking on cases that other lawyers might be reluctant to.

"One thing I enjoy about my work as a lawyer is that we have the opportunity to help people when they have nowhere else to turn."

FATHER'S ADVOCATE

In a high profile case, she argued on behalf of a father to prevent the termination of a planned pregnancy. It was the first such court action to address the issue, but was ultimately unsuccessful.

"The courts took the position that this is a woman's decision, and there would be no rights accorded to the father of the child in circumstances such as these."

She strives to attend daily Mass, but also finds comfort in the joy of other Christian churches. Some evangelical churches have people who are happy to be there, and the music is more contemporary, the parishioners lively.

Her belief is that the Catholic Church could learn from those churches. She would like to see some elements of the evangelical churches put into a Catholic framework.

The seven previous recipients of the Kevin Carr Leadership Award are Jean Forest, Ernest Chauvet, Tim Spelliscy, Douglas Roche, Don Zinyk, Sister Annata Brockman and Ben Hocchausen.