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Vocations  >  FAQ

Who are the Daughters of St. Paul?

The Daughters of St. Paul are a community of vowed women religious who dedicate their lives to sharing the mystery of Christ’s love with the people of today through the media. God has chosen, called, and consecrated each Daughter of St. Paul to himself so that he might send her to proclaim the Good News of a loving God who sends his Son into a world that is desperate for hope.

Our world has become a global media network that overwhelms us with information, but often leaves us empty and longing for more: for love, hope, meaning, and connection. As communicators of Christ, immersed in the culture of communication, the Daughters of St. Paul offer the Gospel to all people as the way to find the “ultimate Connection”—an encounter with Christ that will not only fill them with hope, but transform them so that they too can be Christ’s love, peace, and justice in the world.

Founded in Italy by Blessed James Alberione and Venerable Thecla Merlo in 1915, the Daughters of St. Paul are a pontifical congregation of women religious present now in over 50 nations around the world.

What makes the Daughters of St. Paul unique from other communities?

Each religious congregation has a unique identity that is formed by its founders, its history, its charism (spirituality and mission), and its members. The life of a Daughter of St. Paul is distinctive in several ways:
    • To live an authentic and profound relationship with Jesus who is the Way, Truth, and Life, allowing Jesus to transform her so that she can share her experience of Christ with others
    • To dedicate her whole being to communicate Christ through the media: to listen to the heartaches of humanity and to respond with the Gospel in a way that is accessible and relevant to ordinary people and their needs today
    • To blend contemplation and mission in an integrated lifestyle that brings the needs of humanity to Jesus in the Eucharist and then brings the Eucharistic Master to the world
    • To attentively dialogue with others—with men and women of all cultures, languages, and religions—and to transparently and fearlessly offer the Gospel of hope so that society may be transformed

Do Daughters of St. Paul all work in one type of ministry, or can they do different things?

As a Daughter of St. Paul, communication is not just something we do, it is who we are. How we each carry out our mission as communicators of Christ varies widely, depending on the needs of the people we serve and the signs of the times, each sister’s talents and preparation, and the needs of our mission overall. We all work together to communicate Christ to the world.

One sister may manage a Pauline Book & Media Center, while another may give presentations on living our faith in a media-saturated world. Another sister may work behind the scenes: writing a book or articles for the web, or designing the cover of a new book. Still other sisters may travel a great deal, meeting people at school book fairs, conferences, and parishes.

Actually, you never know what you will find a Daughter of St. Paul doing. Throughout her life, a sister will offer her talents in many different forms of ministry, and discover gifts she never knew she had. But whatever she does in the media apostolate, the goal of her life is to live Jesus and to give Jesus to the world.

What vows do the Daughters of St. Paul make and what is specifically Pauline about the way they are lived?

The Daughters of St. Paul live the evangelical counsels, or vows, of chastity, poverty, and obedience in a way that transforms our ordinary communication to become always more a communication of love, so that we build communion and strive to reach the dream of God’s heart: “That they all may be one.”

Our vow is to live consecrated celibacy for the Kingdom of God as a free gift to the Father. To live chastity means witnessing to and imitating Jesus who, by his total gift of self, made the Father’s love visible and concrete. The free gift we make of ourselves through our vow of chastity is expressed in a vital life of prayer, a transparency of life, a love that is attentive and creatively responsive to the signs of the times, and a joyful availability to serve others in living community.

Consecrated poverty is a total abandonment of one’s life into the hands of the Father. Evangelical poverty leads us to surrender every security and support and to put all our trust in Jesus, who emptied himself for our sake. In imitation of our loving Master, we seek to empty ourselves not only of attachment to material possessions, but also of attitudes of selfishness, materialism, superiority, competition, materialism, inflexibility—anything that would close the way to communion with Christ and with each other. Another aspect of Pauline poverty is a hard-working life where we put all our gifts at the service of the Gospel.

Evangelical obedience brings us, like Jesus, into God the Father’s loving plan of salvation. We offer our lives, our choices, and our freedom in joyful and generous obedience. In faith and in dialogue with our superiors, we place ourselves at the service of the Church for the proclamation of the Gospel. We put all our energies together, discerning and collaborating in our daily life and mission.

How much do you pray every day?

Our prayer life is the source of our energy and joy. We gather daily for morning and evening prayer, and we start each morning with a half hour meditation on the Word of God. Scripture is the privileged source of all our prayer and like Mary, the first disciple of Jesus, we ponder God’s Word in our hearts daily.

Our Eucharistic prayer is the center of our day. We participate at Mass and make a daily hour of Eucharistic adoration, which our Founder used to call “the Visit to Jesus,” to emphasize the intimate, personal quality he wanted for our prayer. We also have been given the gift of an additional half-hour of personal prayer before Jesus in the Eucharist.

In our Pauline prayer, we bring the sorrows and confusion of the world to our Divine Master in the Eucharist, and Jesus gives us the grace and inspiration to respond to the needs of the people we meet. Our Founder often told us that the privilege of participating in this mission was so great that we should “do our apostolate on our knees.”

We deepen our recollection and our discipleship of the Master through spiritual reading, study, and times set apart in an atmosphere of recollection and silence. Each month we set aside one day for retreat, and every year we make a week-long retreat.

What do you do for fun?

The communities of the Daughters of St. Paul are very joyful places, and we have fun in many different ways. We enjoy each other’s presence at meals each day, but our interests and hobbies vary widely: from watching movies to sketching, from basketball to board-games, from playing musical instruments to taking long hikes in nature. Many sisters enjoy sports—both playing and watching! Our free time is used to relax, enjoy each other, deepen our understanding of the culture in which we live, and grow in personal freedom and integrity. In its most authentic sense, free time is a time for “re-creation.”

How do you know you are called to become a sister?

God works individually with each one of us, so every sister would probably answer this question differently. If you asked a happily married couple: “How did you know it was him?”, or  “How did you know it was her?”, no two answers would be exactly the same. Each sister’s vocation story is also unique.

Some sisters always wanted to be a sister, and they just followed this deep desire in a gradual journey. Others felt God’s call but resisted him until they received a sudden insight, intuition, or experience of God’s irresistible love. Still others never considered a vocation to religious life until a friend wondered aloud if they were called. Some young people become aware of God’s invitation in prayer; for others, it is in service that they recognize that they are called to consecrated service.  Often, it involves a deep desire for “more” in life, a thirst for a deeper relationship with God, and a desire to serve.

For many sisters, their openness to doing God’s will crystallized gradually into a concrete understanding of how to live his will—an understanding that resonated with their deepest desires. This understanding is deepened and affirmed throughout a young woman’s journey of discernment and formation.

Whatever your vocation is, your “vocation story” will be unique too because each of us comes to know God’s love and invitation in our lives a bit differently. That’s why discernment is so important. Discernment is a spiritual art that helps us listen to how God speaks to each of us, personally, here and now.

If you are wondering about God’s plan for your life, you can begin your journey of discernment simply by trying to listen to God during your prayer. But discernment is a spiritual art that all of us can learn to do better, using such helps as spiritual direction, praying with the Word of God, etc. You may want to check out our resources on discernment here.

How often can you see your family?

Postulants usually spend three weeks each summer at home with their families. Professed sisters have two weeks of vacation each year, in addition to a week of retreat (usually made together at our St. Thecla retreat house near Boston). Many sisters spend their vacation time at home with their families, but we can also choose to spend our vacation time in one of our communities.

Throughout the year, the sisters stay in touch with their families regularly through phone calls and email, and even snail-mail. Sometimes, family members are able to come for a visit. Holidays are usually celebrated together as a community, so that our family spirit of communion is also nurtured by times of joy, relaxation, and rich liturgical celebrations together.

How long does it take to become a sister?

Generally, we know a young woman at least a year before her entrance, so that the young woman can freely discern how God is calling her. During this time of discernment, the young woman and the vocation director are in frequent contact, and the young woman usually visits our community several times.

Once a young woman enters, she begins her initial formation. This is an important time for a young woman to grow in Pauline discipleship and become more conformed to Christ, following the example of the Apostle St. Paul. There are several stages in this process.

The postulancy is the first stage of religious formation after a young woman enters—a time for her to continue her discernment as she gets to know the Daughters of St. Paul as part of the community. Postulancy is generally a two-year period, followed by two years of novitiate in which a woman studies more deeply the life and mission of the Daughters of St. Paul and prepares for her consecration. At the end of novitiate, the young woman pronounces for the first time the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, which are renewed annually for five years. During this period of temporary vows (called the juniorate), the young professed sister is more fully immersed in our life and mission. She continues her spiritual, apostolic, and theological formation so that she can better carry out the mission of the Daughters of St. Paul. With perpetual profession, the sister makes vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience for all her life.

For a fuller description of the process of becoming a Daughter of St. Paul, click here. 

What’s a typical day like for a Daughter of St. Paul?

There is no typical day for a Daughter of St. Paul—it depends on the needs of the mission, the situations of each community, and the sister’s apostolic responsibilities. Here, a few sisters describe their “typical days.”

However, every day for a Daughter of St. Paul usually includes: early rising, a half-hour meditation, morning prayer, evening prayer, and Mass together, an hour of Eucharistic adoration, two or three meals shared together, and six to eight hours spent working in our mission. At least a couple of times a week, we take time to relax together in community, usually in the evening or on Sunday.

What qualities are important for becoming a Daughter of St. Paul?

    • Single
    • Catholic
    • Between the ages of 18-30
    • Good physical and psychological health
    • The will to offer one’s self to God in religious life through a free choice
    • Desire and affinity for the Pauline mission of communicating Christ through the media
    • Healthy habits in using the media
    • A character that is open, generous, sincere, and available
    • The desire to live as a member of a community and the ability to collaborate with others
    • Sufficient maturity and self-awareness
    • Desire and ability to grow spiritually
    • Willingness to learn
you love your Catholic Faith and want to share it,
you feel Christ is calling you to follow him more closely
you are attracted to the mission of the Daughters of St. Paul and believe that the media are gifts to be used to proclaim Christ

…please contact us!

What should I do if I am interested in becoming a Daughter of St. Paul?

The first thing to do is to inquire. Contact the vocation director by phone, e-mail or mail. You might find it helpful to set up a time to talk in person or on the phone.

In your conversation, the vocation director will provide you with information that will help you in your discernment. As you begin to know more about the Daughters of St. Paul and the process of discernment you can decide together what would be the next best step as you look at a religious vocation.

What other questions would you like answered? Email us, and we’ll respond by email and perhaps by posting a new FAQ.
The Daughters of St. Paul are consecrated women who communicate Christ’s love to all people using all forms of media.
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