Sr. Mary Pilar Verzosa, RGS
A true daughter of the Church
THE name Dr. Zenaida Rotea is well known in the Catholic Church community, not only in the Archdiocese of Manila, but all over the Philippines. I suspect that she is even better known than many bishops since the bishops are known mainly within their diocese but Dr. Rotea is known wherever there are CWL members, having served as their president for several years and until now, remains to be active in the Catholic Women’s League.
And that is how I first got to know her – more than twenty years ago, when I would be invited to give pro-life presentations to CWL circles, and later, when we were among those invited by Cardinal Sin to organize the CBCP Office on Women in order to represent Catholic Church in the Beijing World Congress for Women. From then on, we have become partners in many projects, especially in setting up Counselling Centers for Girls and Women in Crisis in several dioceses. That means travelling with her to hold seminars, conferences and launching or monitoring the Centers.
This morning July 8, 2012, I was witness to another special “Zeny” event – her receiving the Papal Award “Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice” held at Pius Center with over 80 bishops and two Cardinals present, and hundreds of her co-workers – the CWL, the Office on Women, the PPCRV officers and members, her neighbors in Ayala Heights, QC, and of course, her beloved children and grandchildren who joined her in the processional entrance for the Eucharistic Celebration.
What is the “Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice”? I want to quote from the booklet that was given to us: “This decoration is a medal awarded by the Holy Father in recognition of special service to the Church and Papacy. It originated with Pope Leo XIII. The gift of a Papal distinction is not an end, but rather an obligation to continued service as a member of the Papal Family. Pontifical awards are given to ecclesiastics and laity as a token of appreciation and/or recognition for service to the Church. It is intended to award Roman Catholic faithful who are actively involved in the life of the church, particularly as it is exemplified in the exercise of their professional duties and mastership of the different arts…Papal awardees are to serve as role models to their communities and parishes and in this capacity encourage loyalty to the Local Ordinary and to the Holy Father.”
Indeed, Dr. Rotea has been serving and will surely continue to serve, in spite of having survived a brain surgery last February following a stroke while attending a conference in Club Filipino. She related to us the harrowing experience of sudden blacking out in the middle of the talk of Archbishop Palma. The next thing she knew, her children were all around her at the ICU in Cardinal Santos Hospital. Thank God, those in the conference were alert enough to have her transported and admitted to the hospital within 5 minutes from her attack, and the emergency procedures were begun immediately. In five days, she was declared out of danger. She said it was because of the prayer chain of the CWL and the San Carlos seminarians, many of them on scholarships through her solicitations.
An important information she shared with us this morning: she started Church volunteer work only when she turned 60 years old, upon her retirement from the Department of Health, working as one of the health officers while maintaining her pro-life principles in spite of government policies on population control.
To our dear Zeny, congratulations and may the Lord bless you with many more years of passion and strength to accomplish more for the Church that you love so much.
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