Monday, June 27, 2011


June 28 marks the day back in 1932 when three young Pauline Sisters arrived at the Port of New York. Sent by the founder of the Daughters of St. Paul, the three were eager to begin their work of evangelization with the printed Word in New York and North America. The Sister who would remain at the head of the American foundation of the Daughters of St. Paul for many years was Sister or Mother Paula Cordero. Baptized Adele in the hillside village of Prioca in Italy's Piedmont region, Mother Paula and her companions began their mission in the Bronx section of New York. They went from door-to-door with literature explaining the gospel, lives of saints, and prayer books. Some of the literature was in Italian, some in English.
After a few years the Sisters opened their own convent in Staten Island New York. The property had been home to the Benziger family, who were among the USA's first prominent Catholic publishers.
While she still possessed good health, Mother Paula would tell her yearly "Exodus" story of how she had been asked by Mother Thecla Merlo to move from the small town of Alba, Italy to cross the Atlantic to begin the Daughters of St. Paul in the USA.
Today we Sisters, her spiritual descendants, are ever grateful to Jesus Divine Master, to Mary Queen of Apostles and all our heavenly helpers for the courage and faith of our founding Sisters.

Picture of St. Paul in the Melkite Cathedral, Boston
May St. Peter and St. Paul intercede for you. Amen!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Corpus Christi The Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ the Lord

In the Orient it is already Sunday, the Feast of Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. In New England it promises to be a lovely day. I plan to visit a friend in Maine and to visit the beach where we can walk on the sand and enjoy the view. I look forward to tomorrow's liturgy which is very joyful and full of meaning.
This evening I glanced a the Vatican News Service bulletin's summary of the latest talk by Pope Benedict. You will be enriching your spiritual life if you go to the Vatican website and sign up for its free daily news service. Our Holy Father gives us profound and practical teachings on living the gospel today.
Christ stays with us in his Eucharistic presence in the Blessed Sacrament. One of our Sisters likes to say that we can stay in the sun of the Son of God. When I visited the General house of the Blessed Sacrament Fathers in Rome, they had a picture of their founder, St. Peter Julian Eymard which impressed me. Eymard's features are darkened and his hair singed as if he had passed through burning flames. The picture symbolized the burning love of Christ in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Eymard spent many hours in adoration before that "fire" which kept burning in his soul. If we ever feel down or "cold" in our love for God or for the people we live and work with, try warming your soul in front of the hidden flames of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
Jesus said he came "to cast fire on the earth." His is not a destructive fire, but a life-giving power that that fires us with the grace we need to be true Christians today.
My prayer for you is that you will be nourished by Sacrament of Love--the Eucharist. And, I pray that you and I will be on fire in a holy way with the love of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Seven Day Retreat and an Annniversary

Today is my first full day "off from retreat." About 25 of us Sisters spent the last week at our retreat house north of Boston, St. Thecla's in Billerica, Massachusetts.

St. Thecla's Retreat House

 Although the weather was unseasonably cool and moist, the Lord was certainly at work. I appreciated the pause for extended prayer time, for some rest, for the time to look over the blessings of the past year and more. Usually the retreat director notes a few Scripture passages for reflection and prayer. This year too my director did just that, and also provided some readings from St. Paul commented by N. T. Wright. I was struck by Wright's explanation of Paul's writing in 2 Corinthians about us being the "sweet odor" or "aroma" of Christ. and, he mentions the "glory" of Christ and of Christians which contrasts with  a more secular kind of glory. I keep reflecting on what was given me on the retreat. That precious time away "retreating" with the Lord is almost like a spiritual re-fueling. It is a time of more openness to the Holy Spirit.
Today marks the "birthday" of the Daughters of St. Paul in the town of Alba, in the Province of Cuneo, in northen Italy in 1915. Little did Teresa Merlo who joined the small group of women dream that the tiny group of young women in a ramshacle home become a robust religious order today. Under the direction of our Founder, Blessed James Alberione, the first young women pioneers in using printing and now social  media for God, frequented San Damiano Church in  Alba.

Teresa Merlo in 1914. She met Blessed Alberione in June of 1915. Teresa became Mother Thecla Merlo, first General Superior of the Daughters of St. Paul. Teresa's brother, then a seminarian, recommended her to the Founder.

Mother Thecla seated on the left with a group of the first Daughters of St. Paul in 1922. The Sisters began using a religious habit in 1929. The image in the center of the photo is that of St. Paul. The towns people gave the young women working in their midst the name "Daughters" of St. Paul.

The Church of San Damiano where Mother Thecla first met the young priest, now Blessed, James Alberione. San Damiano is still an active parish in Alba, Italy.

Teresa Merlo was an excellent seamstress. Before the Sisters began their printing an publishing ministry. Teresa used her sewing talents to help support the group. In a few years the group expanded to ther parts of Italy. In the 1930's Sisters were sent outside of the Italian penninsula to North and South America, and the Orient.Now Daughters of St. Paul are present in 55 nations, including the newest nation, Souterhn Sudan.
In 1960 I joined the Daughters of St. Paul in our novitiate house here in a beautiful section of Boston's Jamaica Plain.Thank God for the gift of the Daughters of St. Paul to the whole Church, and for God's gift to me to have received a Pauline calling.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Summer Time

In the USA, Memorial Day ushers in the summer season even though summer does not officially begin untill June 21. In Boston the temperature right now feels like autumn:  the air has a chill, even though the flowers and lush greenery deceptively look like summer.
My heart goes out to all those suffering the effects of tornadoes as far east of Massachusetts. As a teenager, I was home from school once when the sky turned an ominous yellow, and a funnel cloud passed over our house. By then my mother and I were in the basement. The tornado passed over us without touching down. It sounded like a freight train at terrifically high speed as it sped away. In the late 1980's another Sister and I were in Texas scheduled to give a workshop on catechetics in parish about 250 miles north of us. We watched in dismay as a TV newscast showed the remnants of homes, churches and businesses destroyed by a Sunday tornado. Our workshop was set for the next day, Monday evening.  We called ahead and the pastor said to come anyway, even though there were some casualties in his parish too.
A powerful tornado had traveled over 300 miles dipping down, rising up and churning everything in its path to bits and pieces.
As Sister and I guided our van to our destination we saw alongside our route what tornado devastation looked like. Some areas were unscathed, others were totally destroyed. Sheet metal walls were twirled around sign posts like so much ribbon. A small wooden church lay on its side, all the pews pushed up again one another. Remnants of trailer homes lay scattered in fields ready for harvest. Pink sheets of fiberglass insulation clung to trees, and volunteer emergency personnel were already doling out food and water to survivors. We were following the tornado's path. It seems to have followed the same route we drove.  It swept through some towns and ignored others. We saw debris for mile-after-mile: a memory I hold even now as very impressive. When we arrived at the parish, the Benedictine nuns there told us how a young mother whose husband worked in the rose industry, lost her baby to the tornado.
Why does God allow such violent storms?  As St. Paul says in Romans 8:28: "For those who love God all things work together for the good." It takes time to clean-up, much more time to heal lossesater, and healing of memories requires God's tender mercy. For those of you who can afford it, please give to the causes collecting for tornado and flood relief.
May this month of June bring many graces through the Sacred Heart of Jesus Master. and, may St. Paul whose feast day is at the end of June intercede for all of u.