Celebrating 100 years of the Pauline Family!

In 100 years, there will be flying taxis and people will travel to the moon routinely. Knowledge will be instilled into students through wires attached to their heads. These may sound like the predictions of modern-day futurists, but they’re how people a century ago saw the future–otherwise known to you and me as the present.

One hundred years ago on this day, a young man from a small town in Alba, Italy, with a futuristic vision took a huge leap of faith into the unknown. Just two weeks previous, the so called ‘war to end all wars’ began, World War 1. That young man was our Founder, Blessed James Alberione who planted the tree of the Pauline Family, nurtured it and made it grow in the garden of Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life until it reached its fruition. His message was one of uniting all things in Christ, quite opposite to the death and destruction that the horrors of war was beginning to manifest throughout Europe.

In the Gospel, we hear how the Lord calls at the first hour and at the last hour to work in his vineyard and the reward is the same. He does not make distinctions. Today we commemorate the milestone of those who lived and served in the ‘first hour’ of the humble beginnings of the Pauline Family. Fr. Alberione himself wrote: “On 20th of August 1914, with an hour of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament followed by the blessing of the tiny printing room, the Pauline Family began under the title of “The Little Workers Typographical School.” [The initiative] consisted of a few rooms, a handful of young people, a small chapel. Under the hand of the Lord, nature and grace worked together so wisely and smoothly that it was not possible to distinguish the two parts: knowledge of things and persons, divine light, the advice of his spiritual director, the approval and encouragement of the bishop.”

It is in this spirit that we join together in joy at the conclusion of one century of service in the vineyard of the Lord as Pauline Family. This year is therefore a year of joy and jubilation, a year to stop in the busyness of time and look back over 100 years of service and dedication, apostolate and prayer - and above all to look forward to many more years of service for Jesus. We look towards a new chapter where the Divine Author lets his pen glide swiftly over our lives and writes new marvels every day.

The month of August presents us with a wonderful tapestry of salvation history, interweaving major feasts with commemorations of outstanding saints. We have celebrated St. Alphonus Ligouri, Peter Eymard, John Vianney, Dominic, Mary McKillop, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Laurence, Clare, Maxmillan Kolbe and then today, St. Bernard. Fr. Alberione writes: “We recall that this day is dedicated to the memory of St. Bernard, a Doctor of the Church who dominated the political and religious spheres of the century in which he lived. In him, the heights of contemplation fused with an extremely active apostolate. He was a smooth writer and fearless to the point of reprimanding the powerful of the earth and of instructing the Pope. Thus the [Pauline] program to be carried out was placed under the patronage of this auspicious name of St. Bernard. A few moments after the function, the news reached the community in Alba that Pope Pius X had died. Convinced that he was a truly great saint who would one day be raised to the altars, our small initiative was also placed under his protection.”

One of Alberione’s principal dreams was to see the whole Pauline Family as a garden of saints. All that he did either for himself or for others manifested this goal in life. For this, through his holy life he became a saint and encouraged others too to become saints. Indeed we can thank God for the gift of two beatified Saints, our Founder and our first Pauline priest Bl. Timothy Giaccardo. We thank Him for the gift of Venerable Canon Chiesa, Ven. Mother Tecla Merlo, fsp, Mother Scolastica Rivata pddm and other brothers and sisters who are now in the process of canonization. Their example spurs us on to echo the generosity and courageous zeal which was so admirable in those opening years of the foundation.

Pope Francis in his apostolic exhortation ‘Joy of the Gospel’ writes: “We are not called to accomplish epic feats or to proclaim high-sounding words, but to give witness to the joy that arises from the certainty of knowing we are loved, from the confidence that we are saved.” The ‘epic feat’ which we are called to live each day is simple, it is fidelity to the gift received. However, we continue to strive for holiness. Afterall, the works of God are performed by people of God. Fr. Alberione reminds us that we sing the ‘Misere’ asking God for his pardon and then we intone the great ‘Magnficat’, as we praise Him for his goodness to us. The life of each of us, and the life of the whole Institute, is an ongoing story of grace upon grace: an apostolate suited to the needs of the times. The Pauline Family must be St. Paul alive today, according to the mind of the Divine Master. It is to carry out its activities under the gaze of Mary, Queen of Apostles, and with her grace.

As we revisit a ‘hundred years’, as Pauline Family, we rekindle our faith and love in the Eucharist, the memorial of God’s unconditional love, and ignite the explosive power that changes our lives and transforms us into witnesses and heralds in the spirit of the Apostle Paul and as lived by Blessed Alberione.We ask for your prayers and assure you of ours as we continue our mission of bringing Jesus Master to the people of today. We look forward to the next 100 years of service!
In the meanwhile, enjoy this short video prepared by one of the young sisters in formation with the Daughters of St. Paul.

(Note: some of these thoughts were inspired by ASC Tidings, a publication of the SSP in India).