Venerable Canon Chiesa

Born on April 2, 1874 in Monta d’Alba in Italy, Canon Francesco Chiesa grew up to become an intellectually notable priest and professor as well as a noteworthy spiritual director of Father Alberione. Following his entrance to the seminary of Alba, Francesco earned a degree in philosophy in Rome, in theology in Genoa, and in canon and civil law in Turin.

A talented professor, Francesco Chiesa taught in the diocesan seminary  and for the Society of St. Paul for 50 years. Furthermore, he was also the pastor of the parish of Sts. Cosmas & Damien in Alba and a Canon of the Cathedral for 30 years. Using his gifts of study, knowledge and research, Francesco published many texts which were reprinted even beyond Italian borders. Being a spiritual director of Father James Alberione for many years, he is often and justly, referred to as the “godfather” of the Pauline Family.

In addition to excelling in his teaching and writing works, Francesco was a faithful priest for over 50 years. During his priesthood, he dedicated two hours of adoration before the Jesus present in the Eucharist. He died in Alba on June 14, 1946 and was soon after defined by his Bishop as “the best of the sons of this diocese”.

Prayer for the Beatification

Jesus Master, Way, Truth and Life, you have enriched Canon Francis Chiesa with the singular gifts of science, pastoral zeal and holiness of life under the gaze of the Holy Family of Nazareth.
Glorify in the Church this faithful servant and through his intercession, grant me the grace that I ask of you…
And you, Venerable Francis, who have taught Blessed James Alberione to transform everything as objects of meditation and prayer leading human knowledge back to Christ, grant that in your footsteps we may collaborate in building the Christian community and the promotion of true values in the current culture of communication. Amen.

Picture and text are courtesy of www.paoline.org.

Venerable Maggiorino Vigolungo

Born on May 6, 1904 in Benevello d’Alba in Italy, Maggiorino Vigolungo was raised up by a humble and devout family. Smart, cheerful and with a natural inclination to excel in everything, young Maggiorino desired to become a saint quickly, to become a priest, and to be an apostle of the good press.  Having chosen Father Alberione as his spiritual director, on October 15, 1916, at the age of 12 years old,  Maggiorino entered the Society of St. Paul.

Maggiorino was faithful to his idea and oriented by Father Alberione, made admirable progress in virtue and apostolate. He had a strong attraction to the Eucharist and made it his priority throughout his short life on earth. On July 27, 1918, 14 year old Maggiorino Vigolungo passed away after being struck by a serious illness. Before his last breath he said to Father Alberione: “I greet all of my companions; tell them to pray for me and that we’ll see each other again in heaven.”

Prayer for the Beatification

O Father, I thank you for having called the young Maggiorino Vigolungo to spread the Word through the “Good Press”. You have infused in him a lively desire for holiness and a great love for the apostolate of social communication as to offer his life for it. I beg you to glorify this apostle in your Church, as a joy and model of children and young people, so that his examples may influence in a Christian way their choices in these times characterized by global and multimedia communication. Through the intercession of Maggiorino, grant, dear Father, the grace I now ask… Amen.

Picture and text are courtesy of www.paoline.org.

Venerable Andrew Borello

Ricardo (baptism name) Borello was born on March 8 1916 at Mango, Italy. He was orphaned in early childhood and his youth was marked by faith, countersigned by adolescent suffering, seldom cultural preparation, a series of family losses, relocation and resettling. With a strong desire to serve the Lord, at the age of 20 years old, he joined the Society of St. Paul. Borello did not feel a call to the priesthood, so he asked to be received as an aspirant of the Disciples of the Divine Master (as the religious brothers of the Society are commonly known). He fully consecrated himself to the apostolate of editions, assisting Pauline priests in the mission of evangelizing through social communication.

Influenced by a deep love of his vocation and Congregation, Brother Andrew made a life-changing decision. With the consent of his spiritual director, on March of 1948 Brother Andrew offered his life “as a sacrifice to God for the perseverance of consecrated vocations, their faithfulness to the grace of their calling.”

God readily accepted his offering. Few months later, on September 4, 1948, afflicted with tuberculosis, Brother Andrew Borello surrendered his soul to God. To the wonder of the doctor attending him, Brother Andrew died with a smile on his face.

The founder of the Society of St. Paul, Father James Alberione, declared Brother Andrew Maria Borello worthy to be glorified and suggested as an example to all of those who consecrate their lives to the apostolate of social communication, with special attention to the Brothers of the Society of St. Paul.

Prayer for the Beatification

Father, to communicate your love you sent Jesus Christ our Master, Way, Truth and Life. 
Through the intercession of Venerable Andrew Borello, grant that the means of social communication may promote your glory and the good of society.
By the offering of his young life as a Disciple of the Divine Master and after the example of St. Joseph, multiply the number of consecrated persons engaged in evangelization.
Inspire among believers an active collaboration so that the Gospel message may transform the current culture of communication.
Glorifying in the Church your faithful disciple and through his intercession, grant me the grace I now ask. Amen.

Picture and text are courtesy of www.paoline.org.

Venerable Mother Scholastica Rivata

Mother Scholastica Rivata

Ursula Rivata was born on July 12, 1897 at Guarene, Italy. Her mother died early in her childhood but Ursula was well prepared to live the consecrated life she sensed God was calling her to. At 20 years old she received an enticing marriage proposal; however, she simultaneously felt drawn to respond to her calling with the following words: “You alone, Lord, and that’s that!”.

Ursula’s encounter with Father Alberione was decisive in her future life and mission. On November 21, 1923 Father Alberione selected two women, among them Ursula, for a mission. When asked about their mission, Father Alberione simply replied: “You will carry out silence, silence, silence”. In the beginning of the following year, the Founder gave life to a new Institute, the Pious Disciples of the Divine Master. Ursula received the name of Sister Scholastica and was assigned as the first Mother of the Institue.

Mother Scholastica was deeply drawn to the Holy Eucharist. Her daughters testify that even throughout her advanced years, when she was physically slowed down, she would adjust her schedule and increase her Eucharistic prayer. She is also recalled for having a joyful smile. With much faith, prayer and strong adhesion to the will of God, Mother Scholastica’s mandate lasted 20 years, involving many trials and humiliations.

During the last 6 years of her life, Mother Scholastica’s voice began to gradually fail leading to an absolute silence. In her penetrating glance, once recalled the words of the Founder, ‘…Carry out silence, silence, silence.’

Prayer for the Beatification

O Jesus, our only Master, Way, Truth and Life, we praise and thank you for your Disciple Sister Mary Scholastica Rivata. 
Sustained by the Holy Spirit and with the strength of the Eucharist, in the joys and sorrows of daily life, she said yes to the will of the Father.
In the footsteps of Mary, your Mother and ours, she has offered herself with joy to the service of God and neighbour.
May her example help us to choose the way of the Gospel in every circumstance of life and through her intercession grant us the grace we ask of you. Amen.

Picture and text are courtesy of www.paoline.org.

Blessed Joseph Timothy Giaccardo

Blessed Joseph Timothy Giaccardo was the first priest of the Society of St. Paul. He was born on June 13, 1896 , at Narzole d’Alba in Italy, and at a young age, 12 years old Joseph Timothy Giaccardo had his first encounter with Father Alberione. Assisting the pastor of Giaccardo’s parish, Father Alberione heard the young boy’s first confession and was impressed by his docility, devotion to the sacraments and spirit of prayer. Aware of his desire to become a priest, in October of 1908 Father Alberione invited Joseph to accompany him to the seminary. On September 4, 1917 while still a seminarian, Giaccardo joined the Society of St. Paul and two years later, on October 19, 1919 he was ordained a priest. Soon after, Giaccardo was nominated as the vice-superior and treasurer of the Pious Society of St. Paul.

On January 6, 1926, Father Alberione entrusted Father Giaccardo with the task of establishing the first house of his Institute in Rome. While in Rome, Father Giaccardo mediated matters between Father Alberione and the Holy Father in the approval of the Congregation. In 1936, Father Giaccardo relocated to Alba, Italy as the Motherhouse director. Furthermore, he also dedicated himself to the spiritual, moral and cultural formation of the Sister Disciples of the Divine Master.

Father Giaccardo celebrated his last Mass on the morning of January 12, 1948. During that same morning, Pius XII approved the Sister Disciples of the Divine Master, a Congregation so dear to Father Giaccardo. He had offered his life for the approval of this Congregation.

Still vested in baptismal innocence, Father Giaccardo passed away on January 24, 1948. John Paul II beatified him on October 22, 1989.

Prayer for the Canonization of Blessed Joseph Timothy Giaccardo

Most Holy Trinity, you have given Blessed Timothy Giaccardo the gift of living the heroic path of  following Christ in the spirit of St. Paul the Apostle and under the gaze of Mary, Queen of Apostles.
You willed to unite him with the charism of Blessed James Alberione as his first priest and most faithful disciple.
I beg you to glorify him on earth by granting me the grace I now ask…
And you, Blessed Timothy, unite with my prayer your powerful intercession so that the instruments of social communication may always promote what is good and help in making Jesus Master, Way, Truth and Life known, loved and followed by all. Amen.

Picture and text are courtesy of www.paoline.org.

Venerable Sr Tecla Merlo

Sr Tecla Merlo

Collaborator in media apostolate

In an era characterised by globalisation and interculturality, collaboration has become a great and urgent need, yet one that has proven almost impossible for many. For Thecla, born Teresa, a woman who rose beyond the natural realm to collaborate with Fr James Alberione in the apostolate of the means of social communication, collaboration was a way to understand God’s will in her life. She not only carried out orders given by Fr Alberione, but also sought to grasp his insights, to smooth his path and to help him in every way possible, always seeking the glory of God and the good of all people. She was not only a valuable intermediary between Fr Alberione and the Daughters of St Paul but also of the whole of the Pauline family which Fr Alberione founded. Fr Alberione, talking to the Daughters of St Paul, clearly pointed out the greatness of this woman, “You might have other mothers but she alone is your Mother.”

After her final profession, Teresa who had taken the name Thecla (a woman collaborator of St Paul, the Apostle, in spreading the Good News) was appointed the first Superior General. At that time, Superiors and formators were using the title Maestra, in honour of Jesus Master, thus Thecla was now referred to as Maestra Thecla. She immediately assumed this duty in total surrender to the will of God and under the guidance of Primo Maestro (Fr Alberione). With much trust she would exclaim, “I am nothing, by myself I can do nothing but with God I can do everything.” Her docility to God’s will was obvious as she went around forming and uniting the young family and orienting it towards the unique charism that God had granted to Fr Alberione.

Her spirit of collaboration crossed the boundaries of her Institute. The Society of St Paul for example, had printed many books and pamphlets, which were piling up in the storehouse. Through her guidance, the Daughters of St Paul zealously and courageously offered to help disseminate them. The Sisters started visiting families door-to-door. Later, the same activity would be repeated in hospitals, schools, parishes, business corporations and any other opportunity that would reveal itself. The Sisters, who always went out two-by-two, eventually became known as “Postmistresses of God.” Their main intent was to disseminate the Word of God – the Bible, which many came to know as the Good News of Salvation. However, their mission was not always welcomed! Some people openly welcomed them in, while others slammed doors in their faces. The difficulties this small group encountered were immense. Imagine women, religious women at that, operating printing presses and courageously going out on foot to diffuse publications! Despite the pains and humiliations they were never ashamed of the Gospel!

Under the continued wise guidance of Maestra Thecla, the Daughters of St Paul soon expanded to all corners of the world. Book centres, publishing houses, audio-visual sectors, and even radio and television stations multiplied and spread throughout the world. And as a leader, Maestra Thecla followed the activities and the well- being of all her Daughters scattered around the world by visits when the opportunities arose. More than anything she is known to have written thousands of letters to them. That was how caring her heart was.

By the time Maestra Thecla passed on, on 5th February 1964 the Daughters were already present in all five continents of the world.

Maestra Thecla is an example of courage, intelligence, faith and wise collaboration. Down through the decades her loving guidance of the sisters and her maternal presence to the whole Pauline family has won her great respect and love from all those who knew her or heard about her. The Church proclaimed her “Venerable” on 22 January 1991.

“When our hearts are filled with the love of God, we cannot help but pour this love out on the world,” Maestra Thecla once said. Her life was a song of God’s love. A love so immense to the point of exclaiming, “If I had a hundred lives O Lord, I would give all to you.”

Prayer for the Beatification

Most Holy Trinity, I thank you for the singular gifts of light, grace and virtue granted to Venerable Sister Thecla Merlo, and for having chosen and made her a mother and confident guide of the Daughters of St. Paul. 
Through her intercession, grant me to live out those which she greatly loved: 
Jesus Master, the Eucharist, the Church, and the Gospel announced to all with the instruments of social communication, to the point of great sacrifices. 
O Lord, if it is in accord with the designs of your divine wisdom, to the joy of the Church, to the good of humanity and grant me, through her intercession, the grace I ask of you … Amen.

Picture and text are courtesy of www.paoline.org.

VOCATION IN THE BIBLE

Many people think that ‘vocation’ is a word that only refers to priests, monks and nuns, whereas others think it simply equates with the following of a particular trade or profession in life. Vocation is something which applies to all men and women; it cuts to the heart of their desires and who they are. Vocation is about discovering who we really are and what we should be doing.

We are all called, we all have an individual vocation which encompasses our whole lives; the people we are, the choices we make, the lives we live. Each of us has a special path to follow in life. Christians, and many others, believe that through the ages, God has called people to cooperate with Him in His plans for the world in practical ways. Many of the stories in Bible are about individuals who have been called, such as Abraham, Moses and the prophets, the 12 apostles, Mary, Paul, etc.

In the first few lines of the Bible, in the Book of Genesis, God calls creation into existence by his Word — “Let there be light!” Throughout the Bible as a whole, God is continually inviting men and women to be his Chosen People. When Jesus Christ came down to the earth, he also called people to follow him and find their true identity and purpose in life.

The truth is that each and every person has been called into existence for a reason. We have all been created out of love and for a loving purpose. God has a special plan for each one of us. One way we can reflect on this is by considering our vocation as a journey towards God, following his invitation. That journey is full of different experiences, and like on many journeys, we each have to read the signs and make choices about which way to go. These choices affect the out come of our lives. God does not predetermine the journey we make; rather he gives us freewill – an ability to choose one way or another. While we have the freedom to make choices, we also need to understand that God does not just leave us on our own. He is present in our lives. He established the Church as a human family, as a community of those who have been called. This community, the Church, feeds each one of our spiritual lives through life-giving words, actions and prayers and sacraments. This is very much a reality which lies at the heart of religious life.

What is truly amazing is to consider that each one of us is part of God’s master plan. Each one of us has a role to play. Each of us is called to become more truly the person that God wants her to be and to use the gifts and talents one has to achieve this goal.

Once we begin to think of our life in a vocational sense, and realize that we are called to be someone special and to do something unique, our life will change. Many questions will rise in our mind, not least what our own personal ‘definite service’ is to be. The challenge facing us then is to discern what specifically we are being called to be and do; become a husband or wife, teacher or even a religious nun! What is for sure is that this process involves spending time in prayer, reflection and discussion with a trusted person. It’s a path of most wonderful discovery.

Are you ready to give it a try?

(From The Path to Self-discovery and New Life Br. Francis Copyright National Office for Vocation The Monastery BBC2 TV, 2005)

PAULINE SAINTS

Blessed James Alberione

Blessed James Alberione is the founder of the Pauline Family – five Religious Congregations, four Institutes of Consecrated Secular Life, and a Lay Association. He was born on April 4, 1884 in San Lorenzo di Fossano, Italy, to a devoted Christian peasant family. There were three enlightenment moments in his life that influenced his destiny.

The first moment he had was at a young age. Little seven years old Alberione was asked by his school teacher what he wanted to be when he got older. After a short pause and feelings as though a light had flashed within him, he answered firmly: “I shall become a priest”. Few years later, in early October of 1900, James Alberione was accepted into  the seminary of his home diocese of Alba.

The second moment of the Lord’s light revealed him the direction of his whole life. During a nocturnal adoration on January 1, 1901, the sixteen-year-old placed his life before God, and “a particular illumination came from the Host” (AD 15); and at that moment Alberione understood Jesus’ invitation, “Come to me, all of you…” (Mt 11, 28). With this call, he sensed a clarification of his vocation to priesthood and felt a need of an organized undertaking to which others would be associated. On June 29, 1907 James Alberione was ordained a priest. In the following year he was appointed by his bishop to become the spiritual director of the diocesan minor and major seminarians and also be part of the seminary’s teaching faculty.

The third moment of light happened in 1910. Amidst an ongoing discernment on how and what could be done to Jesus’ call, “Come to me, all of you..,” to be heard and welcomed by others, he had an idea of “… an organization of writers, technicians, book-sellers and retailers, Catholics whom he would give direction, work and a spirit of apostolate…” (AD 23).  The young priest envisioned a “society of persons who would love God with all their mind, all their strength, all their heart; persons who would offer to work for the Church, happy with the wages God pays” (AD 23-24).

While in Rome on August 20, 1914, in obedience to God’s will, Father Alberione gave life  to the Pauline Family by founding the Pious Society of St. Paul. Aware of the important role women played in doing good for the glory of God, within one year of the foundation of the Society of St. Paul, Fr. Alberione gave life to the Congregation of the Daughters of St. Paul (1915). In 1916, he felt a need to add to both of his institutes a third order, one to include lay people, which gave life to the Association of Pauline Cooperators, a group of committed lay collaborators and benefactors to the Pauline Family. With this new addition, the Pauline Family continued to grow.

In 1923 Father Alberione was unexpectedly struck with a serious illness, leaving doctors with little hope. After a stunning recovery, much prayer and offerings, Father Alberione was inspired to give life to the Pious Disciples of the Divine Master (1924). As he continued to guide his sons and daughters of the Pauline Family, and while publishing many literary works, the Founder sensed the need to initiate a fourth religious institute: The Sisters of Jesus the Good Shepherd (1938).  The fifth religious Congregation, the Institute of the Queen of Apostles was founded in September of 1959. Between the periods of 1958 and 1960 after a period of careful reflection, three new institutes were added to the Pauline Family: the Institute of Jesus Priest, St. Gabriel Archangel and Our Lady of the Annunciation. Later on, in 1965, Fr. Alberione founded the Institute of the Holy Family as part of the Pauline Family.

Known as the “Pauline Family”, Father Alberione saw these diverse Institutes in a complimentary relation among themselves. “The institutions are bound to one another in the Person of the Divine Master, all of Him, the Way and Truth and Life”.  The secret of the unity and communion of the Pauline Family ought to always be the same: the Christ, at the center of everyone and everything.

Throughout his 87  years of life, Father Alberione worked tirelessly to accomplish the mission given by the Heavenly Father. On November 26, 1971, few years post the completion of the Pauline Family, Father James Alberione passed away. In 1996 Pope John Paul II recognized Father Alberione with the title of Venerable and later on, on April 27, 2003, John Paul II beatified and declared him Blessed James Alberione.

Prayer for the canonization of Blessed James Alberione 

Most Holy Trinity, you wanted to revive in the Church the apostolic charism of St. Paul, revealing you in the light of the Eucharist to Blessed James Alberione, founder of the Pauline Family, ensure that the presence of Jesus Christ Master, Way, Truth and Life, radiates into the world through Mary, Queen of the Apostles. Glorify in your Church this apostle of the new evangelization, and raise up men and women open to the “signs of the times” who, following his example, work with modern means of communication to bring all humanity to you. And through the intercession of Blessed James, grant me the grace that I am asking you now … Amen.

Glory to the Father …