Photo:Albin Hillert/World Council of Churches

Photo:Albin Hillert/World Council of Churches

The World Council of Churches (WCC) is mourning the death and remembering the life of Daniela Di Mauro. Her sudden death is a shock and tragic loss for her family, colleagues and friends.

WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit quoted the words of St Paul in sharing news of this tragic event when colleagues were gathered: “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

He continued: “Neither Daniela, nor we, with all our difficult feelings and grief in this situation, can be separated from the love of God. The grace of Christ Jesus, our Lord, is embracing us in everything that happens. Let us comfort one another with these words, giving thanks for the gift she was to all of us.”

Di Mauro showed high levels of loyalty, respect and intercultural understanding as a young woman of Romanian-Italian descent living several years in Switzerland. Working with her meant encountering a rare degree of sensitivity and consideration for others. Di Mauro was a woman whose work ethic was impeccable and whose willingness to always serve showed her deep love for God and others. Her sensitivity was one of her most noticeable traits and was at the heart of what made her the human being she was: open, curious, engaged, vibrant and creative. As this drew her closer to others, perhaps it also veiled her vulnerability.

Her life was short, but she offered a significant contribution - particularly to youth involvement - to the WCC. She served as administrative assistant from 2012-2016 in the departments of Youth and Just Community of Women and Men, and from June 2017-January 2018 for the Global Ecumenical Theological Institute (GETI) 2018.

Di Mauro earned a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the University of Turin and a master’s degree in European Economic and Political Studies from the European Institute of the University of Geneva. She was proficient in six languages and was committed in a plethora of volunteer activities, particularly with children and youth. She was in engaged in several initiatives for the promotion of mobility and integration in Europe. She also worked as a trainer and accompanier for youth events, as a freelance teacher for the Italian language, and an ambassador for the Generation Europe Foundation in Switzerland.

At the WCC, she assisted in the planning and implementation of a broad range of international events, particularly for youth and women, notably the youth pre-assembly in Busan in 2013, the ECHOS Interfaith High-level meeting, the Interfaith Youth Meeting in 2015 and Thursdays in Black and Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women trainings. Di Mauro helped organize the WCC intern and stewards programmes. She excelled in relating to young people with ease and grace.

Di Mauro was also recruited by the WCC in June 2017 to serve as administrative assistant for the GETI 2018, a role she took on with a high level of motivation and devotion. She was responsible for processing and archiving the application and for liaising with international students and facilitators. She was dedicated to bringing to the fore the contributions of young people across the world.

Joy Eva Bohol, WCC programme executive for Youth Engagement, said Di Mauro was very helpful to her in making sense of her role at the WCC. “I remember spending some afternoons with her, reminiscing about her time with the Youth Programme. I saw the passion in her eyes when she spoke of youth work,” said Bohol. “Every time I had questions about the Youth Programme, Daniela was my go-to person and she always accommodated all my inquiries. She was patient with my doubts and confusion. Coming to WCC and meeting her as another young person who has a lot of experience, I felt comfortable and was hoping to learn more from her.”

Yolanda Pantou, youth advisor for ECHOS, said Di Mauro had the qualities of a good friend who would support you through hard times. “Daniela was one of the sweetest and softest souls I’ve met,” she said. “She seemed to be quiet but she opened up to you right away, which showed her trusting nature,” she said.

Di Mauro is mourned by her mother, Caterina, her extended family in Italy, all her WCC colleagues, and a wide circle of friends worldwide.

Message to the funeral service by the WCC general secretary