Sunday, July 30, 2006

Some History

Two years ago I returned from an intense year of study in Rome. That included almost two months of class with a tutor who came to the convent to school us in the language from 2:00 PM till 6:00 every weekday. The lady prepared our small group for interactive learning. The course I took required not only listening to Italian, but also reading it and interacting with both the professors and our fellow students. Our year of study is called the Course on the Charism of the Pauline Family. The priest who started my order, the Daughters of St. Paul, really founded 10 religious groups in the Catholic Church. He wanted to have everyone involved in spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ. He especially wanted to use the media of communications for good. Instead of condemning movies, or media programs, he wanted to replace the reprehensible with the wholesome. The Founder now called "Blessed" James Alberione lived between 1884 and 1971. You'd be surprised to see a time-line of his life. There were so many explosions of creativity going on in the world. Inventions from the bicycle to the atom bomb all happened within his lifetime. There were upheavals in society: the many "isms" rose to prominence--such as Communism; and socialism; along with materialism and others. As World War I started he quietly began the Society of St. Paul, a group of priests and brothers, consecrated to using the media for God. That was back in 1914. A year later he started a group of young women under the patronage of St. Paul the Apostle who would eventually be called Daughters of St. Paul. Their first Superior General was Teresa Merlo. She became known as Mother Thecla Merlo of the Daughters of St. Paul.
During the year of our Course on the Charism, 28 Paulines (as the men and women of the various Institutes are called) took part in the program. We hailed from many different nations: Italy, USA, Korea, Congo, Mexico, Brazil, Spain, Portugal, Western Samoa, Chile, Argentina, Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia, the Philippines, and India, and France. There are probably more countries which were represented which I have forgotten. One of our group who is now in France had served 15 years in Toronto, Canada.
We spent our first week of class together at a retreat house on the Mediterranean Sea. In that atmostphere we prayed, studied, ate and recreated together. We also learned about each other's countries, customs and also difficulties in carrying out each one's particular work. We "bonded" as a group, and as a religious family united in the same ideals.
After the initial week we moved our classes to Rome. The Sister Disciples of the Divine Master have a state-of-the-art conference center where we met for class each day. Our classroom was adjacent to the Church of the Divine Master on Via Portuense in Rome. If you ever go to Rome, visit this imposing and modern church.
I'll tell you more about our "Course" in another blog. Another Sister returned from Rome in June after completing the same Course. We still have to exhange notes on how it went for her. Everyone that I know who took the Course found it enriching in many ways.
Have a blessed week. Sister Mary Peter

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Here's another photo

Since I have known Marlene for ten years, I was happy to be present when she made the big step of pronouncing final vows as a member of the Institute of Our Lady of the Annunciation. The women sometimes refer to their group with the initials: IOLA for short. Marlene had been a member of the lay associate group called "Pauline Cooperators." She was seeking an even deeper commitment to Christ. As an IOLA member she would take the three vows of chastity, poverty and obedience to dedicate herself to an ongoing following of Jesus Christ in her daily life.
Here is a picture of myself with Marlene.

A Recap of the Week

Last Sunday, in our Boston chapel, we hosted a small group of consecrated women called the Annunciationists. The longer title of the group is the Institute of Our Lady of the Annunciation. These women take three vows of chastity, poverty and obedience. They live "in the world," so in a sense, they are a "secular" institute. In this case "secular" means living at home, not in a convent. One women is from the Boston area, the other from Louisiana. Each have busy jobs. Yet every day these women spend time in prayer and meditation. They seek to witness to Christian values by their example first of all. When necessary they witness with words too. That Mass was a good start of the week--reminding me of my consecrated life as a religious Sister--a Daughter of St. Paul. The priest who presdied at teh Mass is Father Matthew Roehrig of the Society of St. Paul. Father Matt is assigned to the Dearborn, Michigan Center of the Society of St. Paul.
In the photo on the left Marlene is pronouncing her vows with two Daughters of St. Paul serving as witnesses, and a prepetually professed member of the Institute (the lady in red.) The lady in red, Santi, lives in Virginia. In the next photo, Marlene and Gretchen pose with Father Roehrig.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Tomorrow's Events

Tomorrow, Sunday, July 23, two women will be making their vows in our chapel here in Boston. One is from Massachusetts (the Boston area), the other from Louisiana. These ladies are "consecrated laity." This means that they live at home, they hold regular jobs, and they profess the same religious vows that we Sisters do who live in a convent. The two women have just complete more than seven years of preparation: a year of postulancy (postulant is from the Latin word "to ask". That is, they ask to be admitted to the Institute.) Then they have at leas ta year of novitiate (from novice: again from the Latin word for "new," someone who is "new" at religious life.) Then the women take vows of obedience to a superior, poverty--that is to live simply, frugally, and thus "freely." Poverty frees a person from being overly concerned about material things to be free to work for God. Chastity frees a person to be totally dedicated to loving God in Christ. This is a sacrifice of marriage in order to be free to love Christ, and all one;s brothers and sisters in Christ. Chastity may seem a negative value to some people today. Yet seen in the light of the love of Christ, it frees a person from erotic love to love with the love of "agape." There has to be the fire of a passionate love for God which is shown in prayer and in deeds of real Christian service. The two women are members of the Institute of Our Lady of the Annunciation. At the Annunciation the Angel Gabriel told Mary to rejoice since she was chosen to be the Mother of Christ. The Annunciationists are called to bring joy to the world by living the Gospel, the Good News of Christ, at home and in the work place. As Mary did after the Angel left her, the Annunciationist after saying "yes" to the Lord through her acceptance of God's will, brings Jesus with her through her silent witness to the goodness of God.
I hope to post some photos of the Mass and ceremony tomorrow.
The Annunciationists take vows to a member of the Society of St. Paul--priests dedicated to using the media for Christ. One of the priests serves as the ultimate superior to whom the woman refer to for major decisions regarding finances and other important life decisions.
We will find out more about the group whose inititals are IOLA as we make more postings.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Intro Blog from Sister Mary

To all you bloggers out there, I am happy to join you. I wanted to comment on Father Jeffrey Mickler's blog and videos. Since I had to be a blogger to comment, so be it!
I am a Catholic Sister, a member of the congregation called "Daughters of St. Paul." If St. Paul the Apostle were alive today, we can easily imagine him being a blogger, a TV talking head, a radio, TV, and film producer--a P R man for Christ with the media. We who call ourselves Daughters of St. Paul use media--books, radio, audio/visuals, the Internet, music and more to let people know just how real and how cool it is to believe in and live in Christ Jesus. Have a Jesus filled day!