Over one hundred years ago, a dream took root in a young seminarian’s heart. A Pauline family of lay faithful, priests, brothers, and sisters, grew from the seed planted before the tabernacle. Today the forms of communication and technology available for evangelization and catechesis continue to multiply. We live in a culture of communication and the age of the laity. Early in the life of the Pauline Institutes sharing the charism with Pauline Lay Cooperators was summed up as “educating them in the Pauline life, devotions and mentality according to the person’s possibilities.”37 Today, just as Blessed James Alberione transmitted the Pauline charism to us as a lived experience, we are called to fully transmit the charism by living it in its entirety and entrusting the lay faithful to do the same. “Only in this way,” wrote Sr Martini, “can the charism be alive. It lives in an individual and in an institute when both have discovered their identity in it. It is this announcement that attracts others to live it. Constitutions, devotions, apostolic projects are not enough. Transmission of a charism passes through concrete persons who are living that charism in a meaningful way.”38
The way Alberione lived the charism was to seek Wisdom in the era and the place in which he lived. He paid attention to the times and kept abreast of the teachings of the Church both ancient and new. Daily he reverenced and read the Scriptures and celebrated the Church’s liturgy. His prayer was Eucharistic and inclusive. He allowed himself to explore and understand the language of new means of communication in order to re-express the Faith in its fullness with and through them. In reclaiming this heritage for today, we seek to discern the past with appreciation, to leave behind what is not helpful and to constantly renew the sources so that they will be always springing up fresh for the people of today, as living waters. The challenge for both consecrated Paulines and lay Paulines is the call to ongoing conversion precipitated by communion and collaboration….
This paper proposes to shed light on James Alberione’s vision of the laity in the Church and within the Pauline family and how he arrives at this vision. Through it I hope to initiate development of an understanding of the vocation and mission of the Association of Pauline Cooperators within the Pauline Family. For this reason the paper correlates important moments in the life of Alberione with his writings, highlighting influences on his thought and references to his vision at particular times in the foundational history.
By Sr Margaret Charles Kerry, FSP