You have not only a glorious history to remember and to recount, but also a great history still to be accomplished! (VC 110)


Sr. M. Joseph Oberto, pddm
History has widely been viewed as being an essential ingredient in the formation of identity. As we experienced during our pilgrimage to the places associated with our charismatic beginnings, going back to the roots of any family or Institute it's essential to remember that history is constructed in many ways. During these days whilst visiting many places in Piedmont we let the buildings, churches, schools and various other places tell their story. However the history of our religious family cannot be understood without the people and we had the blessing to listen to our 'elder' sisters. Now it's time to look at the history in detail. Thankfully, we have Sr. M. Joseph Oberto, pddm, with us during these next few days. Her task will be to lead us on a journey throughout the past hundred years or so, highlighting the key moments for our Congregation. Her departure point is taken from Vita Consecrata 110: "You have not only a glorious history to remember and to recount, but also a great history still to be accomplished! Look to the future, where the Spirit is sending you in order to do even greater things." (Apostolic Letter, Pope John Paul II, 1996).

The role of the Founder, Fr. James Alberione at the beginning of the foundations within the Pauline Family can be likened to that of the sower in the Gospel parable. He sows the seed in the field which is the Church. Often it is not the right moment, it is a time of chronos and not kairos but the Holy Spirit continues to use him as an instrument. Other times, Alberione is obliged to do a u-turn on some of his thoughts, according to the suggestions of the same Holy Spirit.

We can identify various stages of preparation:
Remote preparation: the Founder's experience (1900-20)
Past preparation: the foundations begin and develop (1924-29): The first group of disciples was composed of 8 young women with Orsola Maria Rivata assigned as sister-in-charge. She would later take the religious name Sr. M. Scholastica on the day of her vestition. The eight sisters were given the name Pie Discepole del Divin Maestro (literally, Pious Disciples of the Divine Master).

1927-1947: the PDDM exist juridically as Daughters of St. Paul
1938-46: the journey towards juridical autonomy
1946-47: chapter of suffering, declaration of the non-existence of the PDDM
1947: the new Pentecost, diocesan approval granted by the Bishop of Alba, H.E. Mons. Luigi M. Grassi;
1948 January 12: Pontifical Approval by His Holiness Pius XII;
1960 August 30: Definitive Approval by His Holiness John XXIII.

The first 8 sisters
The history of our PDDM Congregation is not the easiest to comprehend. Many of the above stages were accompanied by deep suffering as the Congregation sought its autonomy. The Pious Disciples lost their name and found themselves juridically included in the approval of the Institute and of the Constitutions of the Daughters of St. Paul and until 1947 they would make the religious profession "according to the Constitutions of the Daughters of St. Paul," although they continued in practice to journey according to their specific vocation. The sisters went forward with zeal and enthuasism, nourished by a profound relationship with Jesus in the Eucharist. Alongside this was the strong conviction of Fr. Alberione, Fr. Giaccardo and Mother M. Scholastica. Each one of them lived a kind of Paschal mystery in typical Pauline style: " My children, I have brought you into this world with great pangs of childbirth" (Gal 4, 19).

During the years of silent discipleship (1929-1947), the Pious Disciples were trained to live that spousal dimension with the Divine Master that the Founder, quoting biblical texts like the Canticle of canticles would often recall in his preaching to them. It was a call to enter into ever greater intimacy with the Divine Master. In 24 November 1946, during the period of trial, the Primo Maestro himself would confirm the Pious Disciples in this Paschal itinerary when he wrote: "The ways of the Lord are inscrutable: but full of wisdom and love. It is also a path wherein we find ourselves; in view of the loftiest ends of the Divine Master. This condition is very well suited for the achievement of the same ends of the Pious Disciples."

The history of our Congregation, the charismatic sources and the very Constitutions in their different editions are full of the presence of Jesus Christ, Master Way, Truth and Life. The life of so many sisters, forged in daily life, in the demanding and joyful school of the Paschal mystery is especially full of Jesus Master. From the Cross just as from a kingly thronethat is also teaching chair and altar, the Divine Master silently proclaims the supreme and decisive lesson of love up to its consummation.

This school is a permanent gift in the Eucharistic mystery that in the Church forms men and women disciples of the Lord to do in his memory what he did by surrendering freely his own life in the hands of the Father, with the power of the Spirit, for the salvation of the world. At their birth, in 1924, the Pious Disciples of the Divine Master already found a vital synthesis in relation with Jesus Master Way, Truth and Life. The name of the new Institute, the residence and a specific evangelical lifestyle confirmed the brothers and sisters of the first Pauline nucleus to strengthen that spiritual and apostolic atmosphere of the House that had in Christ Master its vital center and the secret of everything.

The rest of the history of the Pious Disciples of the Divine Master, until today, bear witness that the direction given by the Founder, Fr. Giacomo Alberione, mediated also by the first Pauline priest, Blessed Timoteo Giaccardo, is the passable itinerary of sanctification that is founded on the singularity of the relationship with Jesus Christ, "the Master" Way, Truth and Life of the Father and in the Spirit.

In this sense, the encounter with the Divine Master does not seem understandable outside the sphere of a vital and salvific relationship. This is so true when reading the history of the Pious Disciples of the Divine Master who, in the Pauline Family, have the mission of watching over and of feeding LIFE by nourishing themselves at the founts of salvation: Eucharist, Priesthood, Liturgy. As we prepare to begin the month of October, the month which is dedicated to the Divine Master, we have so much to be grateful for. It is fitting to conclude with the words of the Morning Offering which we make each day as PDDM:

" I adore You my God and I love You with all my heart. I thank You for having created me, made me a Christian, kept me this night and having led me to the Pauline Family. I offer you my actions of this day, grant that they all may be according to your holy will and for your greater glory. Keep me from sin and all evil. May your grace be always with me and with all my dear ones. Amen".



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