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Blessed James Alberione: Founder of the Pauline Family and the Daughters of St. Paul

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Blessed James Alberione: Founder of the Pauline Family and the Daughters of St. Paul

On November 26, 1971, journalists and news reporters scrambled to cover the death of an 87-year-old, frail, half-bent priest who in his life had been almost awkward in public and reluctant to speak of what he had done. The priest was Father James Alberione. Some said he was an apostle and a pioneer, others a saint and genius of our time. He had founded two Congregations, one of men and one of women, to use the media for evangelization fifty years before the Church herself adopted the instruments of social communication as a means for promoting the Gospel message.

He and his followers had built an "empire" out of paper for the salvation of the men and women of today. Always intent on scrutinizing the signs of the times, he had given to the Church new means by which to express itself. Paul VI had visited his bedside an hour before his death, stopping his work to acknowledge the founder’s passing. The tribute that probably meant the most to him was: "Alberione diffused twenty million copies of the Bible throughout the world!"

But to the thousands of members of the five religious Congregations, four Secular Institutes and the association of Pauline Cooperators he left behind, Father Alberione could be nothing other than father and founder. A charismatic and prophetic leader, Alberione believed, even from the first inspiration as he knelt in Eucharistic adoration, that God willed the work which he began.

To Alberione's mind, one never began the work of God with anything but poverty and faith. He initiated huge undertakings with untrained young people, contracted enormous debts yet never went bankrupt, and refused to budge when he considered something to be the will of God. To the young boys who had joined him in his newly founded Society of St. Paul, Alberione said, "Raise your eyes and look at this mighty tree—a tree so tall that its top cannot be seen. This is our institute, which is truly a giant tree. You stand at the foot of a huge mountain; climb it and study the view. Your horizons are the world." The "giant tree" he referred to has become the Pauline Family.

Today in over 55 countries the sons and daughters of Blessed James Alberione bring the Gospel to life with sound and color, image and story. Worldwide they publish over 20 magazines, operate 40 publishing houses, produce radio programs in many languages, work in video and recording studios, and diffuse the Word of God in several hundred Book & Media Centers and Liturgical Centers. Some of the Congregations that Alberione founded also offer their services in parishes, catechetical programs and in the service of priests.

Today in over 55 countries the sons and daughters of Blessed James Alberione bring the Gospel to life with sound and color, image and story. Worldwide they publish over 20 magazines, operate 40 publishing houses, produce radio programs in many languages, work in video and recording studios, and diffuse the Word of God in several hundred Book & Media Centers and Liturgical Centers. Some of the Congregations that Alberione founded also offer their services in parishes, catechetical programs and in the service of priests.

However, before any of the great apostolic works of the Pauline Family, primacy is given to the spiritual life and prayer. In 1922, Father Alberione and the early members of the Pauline Family made a contract with the Divine Master, a "pact" which is still renewed daily by all his sons and daughters around the world. It was an act of faith, and an acknowledgment that the "success" of the apostolate does not depend on ourselves and our small human resources, but on the power of God. We work in an apostolate which is always too great, which is "impossible" for any creature, since it concerns the redemption of the world.

So James Alberione reminded us: "We need saints to go before us on these paths—paths that have never been trodden before and which in part are not even clearly marked out. These are not matters for superficial people, but for true apostles. Find the necessary light before the tabernacle, and the grace of perseverance through the universal mediation of the Virgin Mary."

James Alberione was declared Blessed by Pope John Paul II on April 27, 2003.

By Sr. Kathryn James Hermes, FSP

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