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.