Sunday, July 30, 2006
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