Four or five years after I entered the Daughters of St. Paul, I met Mother Thecla Merlo, our Co-Foundress. (Yes, she was still alive when I entered! We are a young religious congregation—only 101 years old.)
I didn’t know much about Mother Thecla then, although I noticed how patient she was with me as I tried to express myself in halting Italian. Only later was I able to read the first biography written about her, where I discovered much more about her holiness.
Mother Thecla was deeply concerned about people’s needs and problems—and not just the congregation's. There were over 2,500 sisters around the world, so you might think she had enough persons to worry about, yet her interest and charity didn’t stop with us. She managed to find the time and means to help many people outside the congregation—from impoverished Roman widows, to Benedictine nuns seeking shelter from World War II bombing raids, to bishops from poorer countries who had difficulty sustaining themselves and their aides during the lengthy sessions of Vatican II.
Mother Thecla passed to her eternal reward in 1964. But she is still helping others, as may be seen from the letters our community continues to receive. Here is just one sample, from A.D. in Ohio:
I started saying the prayer to Mother Thecla Merlo. I prayed for my daughter, who has been an alcoholic and lately on drugs. She went into rehab within two weeks. She never went to church. Now she goes on Sunday and signed up her kids in a Christian academy. I prayed for my son-in-law to quit drinking. Four months later, he is in A.A. I prayed for my son’s back; it got well. For my cousin’s marriage; it got better. A house on our street was on sale for two years. I put it on the prayer list. It sold two days later. Several other things have happened also.
Mother Thecla is truly as active here and now as she was on earth!
If you would like to “try out” praying to Mother Thecla, we've posted the prayer for her canonization below. You can also request a printed prayer card from: Development Office, Daughters of St. Paul, 50 St. Paul’s Avenue, Boston, MA 02130. Please send a self-addressed, stamped envelope.
Most Holy Trinity, I thank you for the singular gifts of light,
grace and virtue which you granted to Sister Thecla Merlo,
and for having chosen and made her mother and confident guide of the Daughters of St. Paul.
Through her intercession, grant that I may love her great loves: Jesus Master in the Holy Eucharist, the Church, and the Gospel announced to all with the instruments of social communication to the point of total sacrifice. O Lord, if it be in the designs of your divine wisdom, exalt this faithful Servant of yours to the joy of the Church, to the good of humanity and grant me, through her intercession, the grace I ask of you...(mention your intention here) Amen. Glory be…Hail Mary...