Tuesday, June 15, 2010

95 Years Ago...

It was 95 years ago, June 15, 1915 that a 21 year old woman named Teresa Merlo met a young priest named Father James Alberione.
Many called Alberione "The Theologian" because he taught a the diocesan seminary and he held a doctorate in theology.
Don Alberione, as he was also called, had already begun a printing school for young men aspiring to be priests who would use the press for God. His group of young men would grow into the religious order called the Society of St. Paul. The women's group Don Alberione envisioned and gathered for the first time that June morning did not have a name yet. What mattered to Alberione was that Teresa Merlo was already a person of deep faith, humility and a missionary spirit. She could not see any visible proof of Alberione' promise that one day you will be writing and printing for God. Your work will be a form of preaching the Gospel. When Teresa emerged from the sacristy of the Church of San Damiano in the town of Alba in Italy's Piedmont, her mother asked her, "What did you tell The Theologian?" She answered, "I said 'yes'." Teresa became Mother Thecla Merlo. Saint Thecla is said to have been the first woman collaborator with St. Paul. For that reason, when Teresa pronounced vows as a Daughter of St. Paul in July of 1922, she was given the name of Maestra Thecla. In Italian the word Maestra is the feminine for teacher or master. She was to be the first among the group of young Daughters of St. Paul. Among the Sisters she was called "Prima Maestra." We also called her Mother Thecla, since she was the spiritual Mother of our Congregation.
Her initial "yes" back in 1915 led to a sturdy religious family present and active in 55 countries. Wherever they are, the Daughters of St. Paul use the media of communication in its many forms to announce to the people of today the Good News of Jesus Christ.
On a personal note, today too is my anniversary of entering this congregation in Boston many years ago. The longer I am in the congregation, the faster the time flies! Together with me, thank God for the graces which have flowed to many people around the world through the cooperation of the members of the Daughters of St. Paul.

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