A Warm Welcome to Monsignor Fredrik Hansen
Last week the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See welcomed a new diplomat: Monsignor Fredrik Hansen. He replaces Monsignor Tomasz Grysa, who finished three years at the Mission at the end of July and has been transferred to the Holy Land.
Monsignor Hansen grew up with his parents and sister in a town 40 minutes outside of Oslo, Norway. After completing his secondary education, he served his one-year compulsory military service with the Norwegian Armed Forces. Two years at university followed, after which he commenced seminary studies in London, something that is common for Norwegian priests as the Catholic Church in Norway is very small. Six years later, in 2007, he was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Oslo.
Monsignor Hansen never anticipated working as a diplomat for the Holy See. His vocation to the priesthood "was fully geared towards going home and working in the fast-growing church in Norway." The Catholic Church in his country has seen significant growth in recent decades –quadrupling in size – mainly due to immigration, with almost 40 percent of Catholics coming from Poland and a considerable number from Lithuania, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
After serving his first year as a newly ordained priest at home in Norway, he was sent to Rome to study Canon Law. Monsignor Hansen spent a total of five years in the Eternal City, with the last two years at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, the diplomatic school of the Holy See. He concluded his studies in Rome with a Doctorate in Canon Law.
His first assignment as a diplomat was in Honduras. "It was my first time in Latin America and a great change from Norway. The situation in Honduras was very difficult at that time, with social and economic challenges, high levels of corruption, drug trafficking and one of the highest murder rates in the world outside war zones.” Despite these challenges, Fredrik very much enjoyed his time in Honduras and continues to admire the "real sense of hope in the people despite their circumstances and the living faith in the families and parish communities."
After two and a half years in Latin America, Monsignor Hansen was sent to the Permanent Mission of the Holy See in Vienna, which covers no fewer than five international organizations: IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), CTBTO (Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization), UNIDO United Nations Industrial Development Organization, UNOV (United Nations Office in Vienna) and OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe). In Vienna his work mainly focused on freedom of religion and human rights, anti-trafficking initiatives, anti-drugs efforts, and broader issues of peace and security.
Working at the Holy See Mission in Vienna, with two diplomats and two interns, he had the opportunity to cover a lot of ground. "You take part in everything, from the first stages of informal negotiations to the final high-level meetings. You really get to see how the sausage is made," he said. "It was very interesting and challenging. I enjoyed it."
On the weekends, Monsignor Hansen worked in a parish run by two American priests from a Viennese monastery. This was not entirely by chance: Monsignor Hansen's bishop hails from the same monastery.
On July 1 this year, Monsignor Hansen received word that he had been appointed to the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See in New York. During his first few days in New York, he said he has noticed the very high level of activity at the Mission, which is, of course, at the center of multilateral diplomacy in the world. "New York is very much the hub,” he said, "and a lot of the work that we did in Vienna has an obvious link to the UN here in New York."
Monsignor Hansen will be responsible for the Holy See’s work on the Second, Third, Fifth, and Sixth Committees of the General Assembly as well as the Economic and Social Council. This builds nicely, he says, on his focus in Vienna.
He commented on the vital role of the internship program at the Mission in New York. "It is noteworthy how well integrated into the life and work of the Mission the interns are, as is the significant and competent assistance they offer,” he said. "There are so many meetings and so many different issues to cover, that without eyes and ears almost everywhere, it would be difficult for the Mission to engage on the number of issues it does. The interns seem to receive worthwhile experience related to multilateral diplomacy and a broader formation that will will strengthen them in their lives of faith."
As a new resident in New York, Monsignor Hansen looks forward to exploring what the city has to offer. "I am so happy that we live so close to Central Park," he explained. “That will be crucial to get a Norwegian, more accustomed to fjords and mountains than skyscrapers, through his years in New York!"
As for following the choral endeavors of his predecessor Monsignor Grysa, Monsignor Hansen said he brings a particular expertise to the Mission. He has promised to add to the annual multi-lingual Christmas Carols at the Mission by providing words to a Norwegian Christmas Carol. As for singing it, however, he quipped, "I sing liturgically, and I sing alone liturgically!"
Monsignor Hansen thanked Monsignor Grysa for providing him with a solid introduction to the work of the New York office before he arrived. Moving from one diplomatic post to another, there are always "a great deal of issues and background to which you need to get acquainted," he said
Welcome Fall Interns 2019
The Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the UN happily welcomed its new interns and fellows for the Fall 2019 Session.
Eight new interns began on January 14, joining one intern who has been here at the Mission, working very busily, since January!
Five nationalities are represented, including Singapore, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, Italy and the United States. The interns and fellows will follow, among other things, UNGA - the United Nations General Assembly in September, as well as the Commission on the Status of Women, the Statistical Commission, the Commission for Social Development, the Commission for Population and Development, the Security Council, and much more.
The interns shared a little about themselves, what they hope to gain from this experience and what they are most anticipating.
Veronica is a native New Yorker, from New City, NY. She attended the University of Buffalo in Buffalo, NY, where she studied history and sociology.
Veronica learned about the Mission Internship Program whilst attending Sunday Mass at her home parish in New Jersey. "I hope to learn about issues discussed at the United Nations and how the resolution processes that occur that allows for the further advancements of States,” she says. “I hope to not only advance my knowledge while I am here but also create lasting contacts. I am very excited about the General Assembly and hope to sit in on as many sessions as I can.”
Veronica said she really enjoyed the orientation "boot camp" that focused on preparing the interns for their work at the United Nations. "In just three days I learned more grammar and good writing hacks than I had in previous school courses!,” she said.
The daughter of Marta and Wojciech, Veronica has three siblings, Bart, Martyna, and Nicholas. In her free time Veronica enjoys skiing and being outdoors and she also loves to read and spend time with her family and friends. Whilst she was at university, Veronica was a member of the NCAA D1 women’s rowing team.
After completing a bachelors degree in Political Science in her native Singapore, Christabel has been pursuing a Masters in Germany under the Erasmus Mundus programme.
"I’m excited to witness first-hand how influential the Church is in international relations," she told us.
Christabel found this internship with the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See when she was looking for Catholic organizations which with she could intern with. As a student of International Relations, she feels very drawn to the area of diplomacy and developing her understanding of multilateral relations.
She described how thrilled she was to find an internship program that amalgamates both her love for her Catholic faith and her studies. "I’ve had wonderful opportunities to move to a different city every semester for my studies and this moving has really given me a great appreciation for my faith," she said. "It’s a beautiful feeling knowing that in almost any city in the world you can find a church and a community to journey with."
Christabel is keen to spend her internship “learning as much as I can and to see where God leads me from here!"
The eldest of three siblings, Patrick is currently a graduate student at Fordham University, studying International Political Economy and Development (IPED) and specializing in International Development Studies.
Patrick came to know about the internship program through an IPED alumnus who had also done an internship at the Mission, through the IPED program director, and events co-hosted by Fordham and the Mission.
"I was interested in the internship because of the role that the Holy See plays in promoting integral human development at the international level. As a student interested in development and as a Catholic, it is a privilege to be able to attend meetings concerning international development and advocate for the Church's message on integral human development."
Having already spent a few days at the Mission for his orientation, Patrick already has the impression of the "importance of the Mission in assisting the UN in achieving common goals."
"I hope to contribute my skills in the service of the Holy See to communicate its living Tradition to the United Nations. I look forward to learning from experts in economics and development, and use this knowledge for the marginalized at the UN stage."
A native of Belleville, Ohio, Emily graduated from Walsh University with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Management and is presently obtaining her M.B.A. at the same school.
Faith has always been at the forefront of her life, she said, which is why she chose to further her undergraduate and graduate studies at a Catholic institution. It also influenced her interest in bringing Catholic Social Teaching to discussions within the international community.
Having lived in Arizona, California, and Ohio, and having traveled abroad extensively, she learned to form personal connections with those of other cultures from an early age. Outside of school, internship experiences in multinational corporations allowed her to become passionate about international relations and business.
She hopes to one day contribute to the codification of international development programs to eradicate global poverty and inequality.
When a mentor at Walsh University told her about the Holy See’s Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations, she had a sense that God was leading her to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Aaron Humphriss comes to the Holy See Mission from the United Kingdom. Having converted to Catholicism in 2015, Aaron began his undergraduate degree in Politics and War Studies at the University of Wolverhampton. He lived in a parish rectory during his studies as part of a community of young men.
Following his undergraduate studies, Aaron became an intern with the 'Faith in Politics' program organized by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales. This program consisted of a spiritual direction program, a placement in the office of a Member of Parliament and studies toward a Postgraduate Certificate in Catholic Social Teaching with St Mary's University, Twickenham.
Aaron found out about the internship with the Holy See Mission as he neared the end of his experience in the UK Parliament. "Although I felt nervous as to the likely outcome of my application, I gathered the necessary references and completed the activities asked of me. The rest was up to the Lord. Thankfully, God answered my prayers and I was offered a place for this term."
“It means more than what I can put into words to be here,” he said. During his time at the Mission, Aaron hopes to develop his understanding of the diplomatic work of the Holy See and continue to discern his vocation.
Sofia is a Colombian and U.S. dual citizen who grew up in Miami with her parents Ruben and Juliette and her younger sister Andrea. Her Latino heritage has given her, she said, "excellent opportunities to learn about various issues in international politics.”
In May, Sofia completed her undergraduate studies in History and International Relations at King’s College, London. Sofia has worked as an intern at her local U.S. House District office, in addition to having extensive experience in the private sector. Her academic interests include analyzing the ‘special relationship’ of the United States and United Kingdom from a historical perspective, ethnic conflict in the former Yugoslavia, and coercive diplomacy.
Sofia originally discovered the internship while searching for opportunities to work with the Vatican and she is looking forward to her time at the Mission. “I mostly see the program as an opportunity to help make a positive difference in the international community by promoting Catholic values."
Sofia said that she enjoyed the three day intensive intern training program at the Mission, which she described as having been "invaluable in various aspects, such as diplomatic protocol, editing, and the Holy See's work worldwide.” She looks at the internship as "an opportunity to merge my interests in international politics with the work of the Church."
Chiara Mocchi was born in a small town in the north of Italy, the eldest of five siblings. She studied Political Science at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan and is a fellow sponsored by the Toniolo Institute.
Chiara has spent eight months interning for the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See mission and she will be staying until December. She has particularly enjoyed being exposed to a variety of issues at the United Nations and the commitment of the staff of the Holy See Mission.
"Negotiations clearly reveal States' agendas and priorities. The Holy See's active participation in this arena brings, I think, a deeper and more comprehensive view on many of the subjects that are discussed."
Chiara has also appreciated the mentorship and passion of the staff of the Holy See Mission. "In these months I have learned so much and have shared so many experiences. Even lunch each day at the Mission is a privileged moment to exchange views, learn from others and to experience fraternity."
Chiara is excited about the beginning of the fall session and looks forward to putting herself to the test.
Collette is from Birmingham, England. She is currently completing a doctorate in Human Rights Law at Nottingham Law School and spent last year teaching constitutional law and human rights at the undergraduate level.
Collette heard about the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See internship program through an NGO for which she had done some pro-bono work. She was encouraged to apply by her pastor and law professors.
Collette hopes that her time at the Holy See Mission will "give me a platform to combine, in a very practical way, my legal knowledge with my love for the Gospel and the Church."
So far, the induction has not disappointed. "My first impression is that Gospel values are not just something advocated for but are the very essence of what the Mission is and not just what it does. I say this having experienced these last few days a passion for truth, a real missionary spirit and a sense of family through the personal care and attention of staff to this new intake of interns."
Collette is very much looking forward to her time here. "I feel humbled to serve the Church in this small way at the Mission and to give a little something back in gratitude for a life transformed by an encounter with Jesus Christ in the heart of the Catholic Church."
Carmen graduated with an undergrad in Politics and has just completed her first year at Ave Maria School of Law in Naples, Florida.
Carmen was born in Panama and raised in New Mexico with her parents, both retired military officers, and an older sister. She has two black belts and is also a horse trainer who says she is "happiest at the boxing gym or on horseback."
She fell in love with Texas as a college student and where she worked for two years after graduation. She just completed her first year at Ave Maria Law School in Florida and spent this summer in Rome on an internship.
She is excited about interning at the Holy See Mission. "A classmate from Ave Maria Law told me about the internship,” she said. Carmen hopes to learn "about the inner workings of the UN and how it can be most effective."
Thus far, she said, “It has been a joy working with the staff at the Mission and getting to know my diverse teammates. It is an honor to play a small part in the invaluable role the Church plays in global affairs."
"My horizons continue to broaden: from learning details about Brexit from the first-hand experience of those from the U.K., to tweaking my grammar and writing skills I had thought impeccable” during her three days of intensive intern training at the Holy See Mission.
Applications are now being received for the Spring 2020 Session of the Holy See Mission Internship (January through March 2020). Applications are due by October 1. Information on applying can be found here.