Day 2: Visiting Sanfrè and S. Lorenzo di Fossano

Sisters in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament
After a good night's sleep, it was time to join the sisters in chapel for prayer. It was great to see such a packed chapel as the sisters are very fervent in joining in the community liturgies. For those who cannot make it to the chapel and for the bed-ridden sisters, the liturgies are transmitted to each room and public area via an intercom system, allowing all to be united in the breaking of the Bread of Life and the Word.

Having finished breakfast we prepared to meet the rest of the community, especially the sisters in the infirmary. This is always a precious experience, whilst at times it can be hard to see the suffering and the difficulties of our older sisters, it is the opportunity to revisit the many blessings which we have received because of their sacrifices. It is the time to let them narrate their experiences, the stories from the beginning of the foundations, the adventures embarked upon. This is all living witness to the strong faith which they have in God as well as a filial trust in the Founder Fr. James Alberione to help him realise his dream for the Pauline Family. 

With the sisters in the infirmary

With Mother Thecla
The sisters from the infirmary were all brought to the common area where they enthusiastically greeted us. It was moving to see the joy in their eyes when each one of us introduced ourselves and where we came from. Many of them were the foundresses and missionaries in the countries which we represented: Mexico, Poland, USA, Ireland, Brazil, Philippines. As a sign of our joy of being in the midst of our sisters, we sang some songs in Italian, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese and even in Polish. Our group has indeed become a polyglot group! We also made a special visit to see Mother Thecla, one of the former Mother Generals, who celebrated 70 years of religious profession last March. Whilst her words were few, her eyes sparkled with delight and expressed her participation in the visit. Some other poignant stops were the visits to the room where the Servant of God Mother Scholastica Rivata died, as well as that of Venerable Andrea Borello.


In the room where M.M. Scholastica Rivata spent her final years

Leaving the sisters to prepare for their lunch, we headed off to do some exploring around the area. Villa Loreto is very spacious and very conducive for walks and reflection, very peaceful and the air is a tonic in itself. Walking through the forest, we discovered the beauty of this area. However we also discovered that not everyone likes snails and slugs or anything that crawls! Back in the convent grounds, we offered to help collecting the hazelnuts and figs- all God's providence! Photo gallery


Proud to be spiritual children
of Blessed James Alberione
In the afternoon, it was back into the minibus and off to San Lorenzo di Fossano. This place is a place very dear to us as it is where Fr. Alberione's family lived for many years and indeed where James was born. Born into a family of hired farmhands, the family's situation was often a situation of poverty. The room where the family lived was small and used for everything. More than often, the older children slept in the barn with the animals, no more than a stone's throw from the family's room. Today, this same barn has been converted into a chapel, part of a development project carried out for the beatification of Fr. Alberione in 2003.

People can now visit the house and see it as it was (with some adjustments obviously). However with great taste and historical sensitivity, a conference room, chapel, dining area and living quarters for the two brothers who live there have been incorporated. Each sister expressed their marvel in being here in this place: it was really the return to the humble beginnings which sends us back to the poverty of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.

Today it is an oasis of prayer and spirituality where the encounter between man and God takes place, in an atmosphere of recollection. In fact, after visiting the house and revisiting our Founder's youth, we gathered in the chapel in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. There in that sacred space, each one thanked God for having brought us to this Family, for the gift of our Founder, our first brothers and sisters...for the gift of the Eucharist which nourishes and allows us to keep walking day after day in the steps of the Master.



Church of St. Lawrence
From the house, we moved down to the parish church of St. Lawrence where Fr. Alberione was baptised. Where little James was born, his health was so precarious that his parents Michael and Teresa insisted on baptising him the next day, the eve before Palm Sunday. The actual baptismal font where he was baptised was brought to the SSP Mother House in 1972 (Fr. Alberione died in 1971) to be retained as a relic. However in the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Fr. Alberione,the parish church was restored to its former glory after treating it for humidity damage. The new bishop of Fossano, Mons Severino Poletto made the request that the font return to the church of origin, a request which was honoured by the Society of St. Paul. Beside the font is a fresco of Fr. Alberione surrounded by the four Pauline Churches which he had constructed as a means of evangelisation and to satisfy the thirst for the Divine which exists in each one of us. Here we renewed our baptismal promises, recalling also the pride with which Fr. Alberione speaks of the sacrament of baptism: "I will thank God each day as long as I live for the gift of my baptism, for the Institution of Baptism, and even in eternity I will continue to thank Him. At the door of the Church, a pact takes place between man and God. God, on his part, promises eternal life and the help necessary to achieve this; the child (through those who represent him promise to keep the faith. God has been faithful and I strive to be faithful. " (Bl. James Alberione)

Thanks to Don Gino, our Pauline brother for being a wonderful host and tour guide for the afternoon and for reminding us of the importance of being Pauline and incarnating the Pauline charism in our lives, striving always for holiness: A commemorative plaque on the wall of the Fossano house reminds us:" Holiness is the stubbornness to carry out the will of God always, in spite of the difficulties that arise!".
A message for us juniors: 'Onwards and upwards!'  Photo gallery

Comments

  1. Blessings, Sister! I am developing the site for Institute of Our Lady of the Annunciation, Philippines. I'd like to ask your permission to use 3 of your photos related to the beginnings of Bl James Alberione. You can find these photos in the header collage of the site annunciationists.com. In return, I'll give due credit to your site. You can find this on the sidebar of the sites posts and pages under Photo Credits. If permission won't be granted, please let me know so I can remove the photos immediately.

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    Replies
    1. Dear Friend, it is okay to do this though I am not sure where the pictures are being used as I did not see them on the website. Thank you for your ministry to the OLA in Philippines. Blessings. Sr.M.Louise

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