Monday, February 04, 2013

Mother Thecla

                                         Mother Thecla at prayer.

As the month began I mentioned Mother Tecla Merlo, Co-foundress of my community, the Daughters of St. Paul. February 5th marks the 49th anniversary of her passing from this world into eternity. Known as Venerable Mother Thecla, she was born Teresa Merlo in 1894. In 1915 she met Reverend Father James Alberione. (Now  Blessed Alberione, he founded the Daughters of St. Paul.) He invited the young Teresa who was an accomplished seamstress to be one of the first members of the new feminine congregation dedicated to media evangelization. Of course in 1915 media was limited to the printed form. Radio was just beginning.
Teresa was appointed Mother General of the new religious family. The Founder gave her a new name, Thecla. St. Thecla is said to be one of St. Paul's most devoted converts.
The Sisters'  title, Daughters of St. Paul, was bestowed on them by the laypeople of the towns of Alba and of Susa in Italy's Piedmont region. Everyday the Sisters prayed through the intercession of St. Paul to help them carry out a mission of evangelization with the printed, broad casted, and filmed Word of God. The townspeople noticed this Pauline devotion and thus named them "daughters" of this saintly apostle.
Mother Thecla's life was demanding, yet she was always serene and upbeat.
When she visited the USA about a year before her death, Mother Thecla gave a rousing talk to all of us in which she encouraged us to be Sisters who prayed well and worked intensely but serenely.
There is much more to say about Mother Thecla. I was privileged to have met her when I was in the last year of high school. When she last visited the USA I was newly professed. She spent a month with us in Boston. Her frailty, her prayer life, and a terrific sense of humor left a lasting impression on me, and no doubt on all who saw her.
Here is a prayer for her intercession:

Most Holy Trinity, we thank you for the singular gifts of light, grace and virtue which you granted to Mother Thecla Merlo, and we thank you for having chosen and constituted her the wise mother and sure guide of the Daughters of St. Paul.
Through her intercession, grant that we may live of her great loves: Jesus Master in the Holy Eucharist, the Church, the Gospel and souls--souls sought and served through evangelization with the instruments of social communication to the point of total sacrifice.
O Lord, if it be in the design of your divine wisdom, carry out even on this earth, for this very devoted Daughter of St. Paul, your divine promise: "If anyone serves me, my Father will honor him."
Exalt this faithful servant to the joy of the Church and the good of many souls and grant us, through her intercession, the favor we ask of you. Amen.

Mother Thecla with her successor
M. Ignazia Balla.

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