“Enrollment in the Cooperators should be preceded–and especially followed up with–suitable instruction. It is certainly a good thing that the faithful want to participate in the 2400 Holy Masses, but this is just one step. They must be enlightened and participate, according to their possibilities, in the Pauline life and works; they must come to understand always more the meaning of true cooperation and carry it out generously” (Fr. Alberione, "Our Cooperators", in San Paolo, April 1951).
Formation is the process by which a lay person, single or married, becomes a Pauline Cooperator. It is a particular time of prayer, study of the Pauline charism and spirituality as well as the participation in the Pauline mission. These avenues of deepening one’s knowledge of the Pauline charism and vocation help the lay person discern if God is calling him/her to take the Promise as a Pauline Cooperator and participate more deeply in the mission of evangelization through the means of communication.
The initial formation to become a Pauline Cooperator takes 18 months and is divided into two phases:
The Period of Inquiry is the first official step in the formation to become a Pauline Cooperator. During this time, the candidate engages in a time of prayer, reflection and learns about the Pauline charism, especially its history, spirituality, and mission. At the end of this six-month period, the candidate and the Daughters of St Paul accompanying him/her discern together whether God is calling the candidate to move on to the next stage of formation.
The Time of Preparation is the second stage of formation to become a Pauline Cooperator. This stage consists of twelve sessions with in-depth coverage on ecclesial and charismatic sources including Sacred Scripture, the teachings of the Church, the writings of the Founder (Bl. James Alberione), co-foundress of the Daughters of St Paul, Mother Thecla Merlo and other holy men and women of the Pauline family, and the language and means of social communication. For twelve months the candidate continues learning about the Pauline charism—devotions, mission, and spirituality under the guidance of a Daughter of St Paul or Promised Pauline Cooperator. The candidate participates with the sisters in the mission and in Pauline liturgical celebrations whenever possible. At the end of the eleventh session of the Time of Preparation, the candidate writes a letter to the Provincial Superior of the Daughters of St Paul requesting to make their Promise as a Pauline Cooperator.
Ongoing formation. After making their Promise, the Pauline Cooperator takes on full responsibility for a life-long journey of ongoing formation to deepen their knowledge and experience of the Pauline charism learned during initial formation and to grow in a deeper love for the Church and ministry of evangelization with the means of communication. Blessed James Alberione exhorted all Paulines to embrace an attitude of “studiosità” – learning from everything and everyone. Like St Paul, the Pauline Cooperator seeks to learn and grow ever more in his/her relationship with Jesus our Divine Master, Way, Truth and Life so that he/she can more confidently not only live Christ but give Christ to the people of today. Ongoing formation takes on several forms such as annual Pauline Cooperator retreats, conferences, participation in Pauline feast days, access to written materials and other resources both online and face-to-face.
“A solid formation is to be promoted so that the Cooperators, in their turn, can more confidently and responsibly take on their own formation, that of the new members, and their apostolic activities” (Statutes of the Association of Pauline Cooperators, no.10.1)