Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Holiness is Possible in Our Media Age

Holiness. Union with God. This can seem like a lofty goal in our very busy and sometimes compartmentalized lives today. But it need not be and yet how do we strive to remain in union with God through the events, encounters and tasks of each day? As Paulines, we can be grateful for the treasure we have received in our Pauline charism and spirituality which moves us towards this goal of integration; to live in Christ, with Christ, for Christ, our All in All. The Lord truly gave Blessed Alberione a prophetic gift that would stand the test of time simply because it keeps us centered on Christ. He is the Vine; we are the branches. God has given us every grace so that we can be fruitful; and especially so, in our media age – with its complexities, distractions, temptations and potentials. Yes, even today, we can become the saints that the Lord has called us to be. His grace is sufficient and certainly never lacking. In fact, this is a special year for us as Paulines to step up our game in this journey of growing in holiness. We have before us the opportunity to receive “a double portion” of graces on two fronts. First, it is the Pauline Year for Vocations. A year to “stir up the gift of God” (2 Tim 1:6) as the theme boldly proclaims to us. A year where we can celebrate the gift of all our Pauline Institutes and Congregations inspired by Blessed James Alberione, pray and work for an increase in vocations, engage in deepening our understanding of the Pauline charism, and collaborate towards an authentic living of our one goal: holiness. That Christ may live in me.

Logo of Pauline Year for Vocations


Secondly, it is the Year of the Pact. Around the end of 1919 to the early part of 1920, Blessed Alberione and Blessed Timothy Giaccardo (the first Pauline priest) both entered into an agreement with the Lord. They drew up this “promissory note” (cambiale) based on Matthew 6:33: “But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.”


"Promissory Note" (Cambiale)

“Strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness.”
Signed: Fr. James Alberione
            Fr. Timothy Giaccardo
“And all things will be given to you as well.”
Signed: Jesus Christ
            Holy Spirit

By this Pact, Blessed Alberione and Blessed Timothy Giaccardo committed themselves and the Pauline Family to put all their best efforts into the work that the Lord had entrusted to them while trusting that God would provide for every need of this young and budding family. Blessed Alberione later expanded this Pact or “Secret of Success” into a prayer that would allow all Paulines to enter into that same commitment with God. By making a Pact with the Lord 100 years ago, Blessed Alberione inevitably reminds us of our acute need to depend on God for EVERYTHING. This message is crucial in such a time in history when we can so easily seem content with our sense of self-sufficiency given all the modern means we have at our disposal. How often do we recall that our very breath to live comes from God and so does our food, shelter, clothing, work, family, friends or accessories? And how many times do we remember that our ability to do anything – our capacity, intelligence, ingenuity – even and especially our fruitfulness in evangelization, is all a gift from God? Thanks be to God that the fruits of this Pact have been evident for 100 years and will still go on because God has been faithful and will continue to be. However, moving forward as Paulines in our media age today, what part will we play in keeping this legacy of Alberione alive for the next generation? Do we truly believe in it? Do we truly live it? How and in what ways are we seeking the glory of God in all things? Do we honestly trust that God will provide for us? 
One of my favorite passages in the Old Testament that gets to the heart of these questions is the story of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath. Here’s a recap of the story:

So the word of the LORD came to Elijah: “Arise, go to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there. I have commanded a widow there to feed you”. He arose and went to Zarephath. When he arrived at the entrance of the city, a widow was there gathering sticks; he called out to her, “Please bring me a small cupful of water to drink.” She left to get it, and he called out after her, “Please bring along a crust of bread.” She said, “As the LORD, your God, lives, I have nothing baked; there is only a handful of flour in my jar and a little oil in my jug. Just now I was collecting a few sticks, to go in and prepare something for myself and my son; when we have eaten it, we shall die.” Elijah said to her, “Do not be afraid. Go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake and bring it to me. Afterwards you can prepare something for yourself and your son. For the LORD, the God of Israel, says: The jar of flour shall not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry, until the day when the LORD sends rain upon the earth.” She left and did as Elijah had said. She had enough to eat for a long time—he and she and her household. The jar of flour did not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry, according to the word of the LORD spoken through Elijah.(1 Kings 17:8-14)

You see, the widow is caught between a rock and a hard place. Giving the little she had did not seem to fit her budget for survival. And yet, Elijah insists that the Word of the Lord will hold true thus pulling her out of her own economy of survival to embrace God’s modus operandi. Obedience to pursue the Will of God and trust in His Providence led to the fact that her jar of flour and jug of oil did not run dry. Our times are ripe to grow in holiness and the graces from our Pauline Year of Vocations and Year of the Pact await us. May we too, like this widow, and Blessed Alberione, have the wisdom to embrace this economy of offering to God our time for prayer, our limited resources, inadequacies, gifts or whatever challenges we may face in our media age so that we may live courageously and be sustained by His Providence. He will make us holy. Are you up for the challenge?


Fr. Alberione and Multiplication of Time| Media Apostle by Sr. Helena Burns, FSP

If you would like to purchase this wonderful DVD The Media Apostle for yourself click here

Sr. Jackie Jean-Marie Gitonga, FSP was born and raised in Kenya, Africa. She discovered her calling to religious life during her doctoral studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She joined the Daughters of St Paul in 2009 and after her first profession of religious vows, she was involved with Pauline Cooperator formation and traveled extensively to make the Word of God available through faith formation, media and vocation talks, movies and retreats in schools, parishes, conferences as well as different social media platforms. She professed her final vows in May 2019 and is currently serving as the National Director of the Pauline Cooperators in New Orleans, Louisiana. She enjoys traveling, songwriting, creative writing, cooking, hiking, dancing, biking and sharing faith and life with people of all walks of life. She can be reached at:

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The Cooperator Promise

Frank, Beth, Fr. Jeff, Karen, and Trich

It’s been about a month since four of us made our promise for the first time as Cooperators. Karen, Trich, Beth and I (Frank) made the promise in Charleston at the Pauline Books and Media Center on the Feast of Saints Peter and St. Paul on June 29. It was remarkable in several important ways.
First, it was in the deep South. We’re in the Bible Belt. There are not a lot of Catholics here yet, though the numbers are definitely growing. Second, it was the feast of St. Paul, and we’re all part of the Pauline Family. And last and certainly not least are the people.
That’s my main memory from that day. God willing, we will make the promise again many more times. But starting with the “media nuns” who helped greatly during inquiry and preparation, and who planned and hosted this event, the people were just amazing.
Frank makes his Promise

I was very impressed that several of our Cooperator friends from Boston flew in to spend the weekend in Charleston and be a part of this. Also, Fr. Jeff Mickler, from the Society of St. Paul, came in from Staten Island. He celebrated mass for this event, heard confessions, and just offered himself as a friend for many hours of fine conversation.
Food! It’s always spectacular in Charleston, and the many people who helped feed all those who visited for the weekend did not fail us. Yummy! 
Fr. Jeff celebrates mass for the Cooperators
Beth shared some comments with me that I am including here. She told us, “One of the amazing things about this journey was the community of the Pauline Family. I still cannot believe that so many of them made the effort to come to Charleston to be with the sisters and to be with us. At the top of the list was Fr. Jeff and the other Cooperators."
“Not just making our Promise in the family we've come to love so much,” Beth continued, “but the time of preparation, spending time getting to know the sisters and our fellow Cooperators. How cool!  And what a blessing it is to be in this Pauline Family!”
Karen Luhrs also shared a few comments with us. She remembered, “Our Promise Weekend to join the Pauline Family as Cooperators was one of the most significant weekends of our lives. To actually be considered a part of this special family and to have the mission of spreading the Gospel of the Lord is awe-inspiring and one that none of us takes lightly." 
“We all (Frank and Beth Lengel, Trich Schellman, and Karen Luhrs) began the weekend of June 25 with a Mass that was followed by a dinner and reception. The next morning we were treated to a delicious breakfast prepared by Sisters Margaret, Jennifer, Lupe, and Lucia. And we were joined by the visiting Cooperators from Boston." 
“What wonderful new friends and fellowship we experienced. We even had a question-and-answer period with Fr. Jeffrey.”
We’re sorry to say that Trich was not available for comment when I (Frank) was putting this article together. We know she would have had something interesting to add. And Trich was very much in the middle of all that took place that special weekend. We all look forward to working, praying, and having fun together in the years ahead.
The newly Promised Cooperators and their Pauline Family

It’s hard to close this article without remembering our founder Blessed Fr. James Alberione. We can’t be sure that he foresaw the wonderful time we all had together as Paulines in June, but we know for sure that he was a man of great vision.
In Christ!

After a career in the military, Frank and Beth Lengel started a business 30 years ago to train career advisers and help people discover their life’s purpose and work. Frank uses caricature as a way of encouraging others to think about their true identity. The couple is also active in the "Catholic Roads" apostolate where they enjoy traveling together, writing, drawing, and meeting lots of wonderful people. Beth and Frank are all about the “shrines, wines, and interesting people" of life and want the whole world to know that it's really cool to be Catholic! They have two sons and six wonderful grandchildren. Beth and Frank live in South Carolina and plan to make their first promise this June (2019).

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Divine Tapestry

My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.     -Col 2: 2-3

About twenty years ago a friend of mine died at just 19 years of age from cancer that went untreated because she chose to not to abort the baby she discovered she was carrying.  I remember that funeral like it was yesterday.  At the funeral the priest told us that, "God is weaving together a beautiful tapestry with each of the moments in our lives and the lives of everyone who has gone before us and everyone who is to come being the threads he chooses to weave with.  The only problem is we are on the backside of that tapestry and all we see are stray threads that don't really make much sense.  Only when in Heaven will we be able to truly see the beauty He is creating." 

I am a very visual person so you can understand how this imagery stuck with me.  This past week when I was on a mission retreat in Appalachia, Kentucky, I think I got a glimpse of God’s side of the tapestry in how He has beautifully interwoven the stories and lives of some amazing people to bring His healing grace to Appalachia and the world.  

This was my tenth year with God’s Boston Crew working in one of the poorest counties in our country.  Some things about the trip are a lot like coming home since this has become like a second home to me. Some things about this year’s trip were a little tough, like the unexpected death of my cousin Jess, the daughter of my best cousin (a term for my cousins who are also best friends) and Ky companion, David, and his subsequent inability to attend this year.  I don’t know about you, but I tend to be one of those people who incessantly tries to make sense out of things that just don’t make sense. This was one of those situations. There was part of me that kept forgetting and looking for David at rest stops or throughout the week to share a laughing moment or see if he needed anything from the store, etc. He was sorely missed.

Maybe because of this loss right before the trip, maybe because this was my 10th year of going on this trip, maybe because I have been doing a lot of reflecting on life and where God is leading me these past days, or maybe some odd combination of all of those, but this year more than any other I noticed how different I am from that terrified and depressed 30 year old who joined this service experience in 2009.  

Sarah and Salena doing prep work for painting.
My group saw quite a few changes from the way things had been in past years on this service retreat.  Since 2012, Will and Jan Ruthven have been our hosts at Appalachia Reach Out, a mission center, but in December of last year they handed the reins over to Dwayne Mills, a pastor who is a Martin County native.  In the past we have split into smaller groups of 4 or 5 volunteers and went into homes and did home repairs which gave us the chance to talk to families and enter into their lives in a very special way. This year we painted classrooms and the gymnasium in two elementary schools as an entire group which gave us the benefit of being together as an almost completely whole group for the entire week.  It also presented some new challenges in flexibility when working with people whose style of doing things might differ from our own. We even spent a day not doing physical work but instead meeting people from ARC (Addiction Recovery Care) and Karen’s Place Maternity House, both of which help those in recovery find a way out from the oppression of Alcohol and Drug addictions.  These may seem like small differences, but being someone who finds change very difficult, I was surprised by the complete peace I felt during the entirety of my trip.

Dwayne, Salena, and our group at the ARC sign at the location
of the former Father Beiting Mission Center.
It was in discussion with Salena, the intern at ARO that worked with our group, that I really began reflecting on all the different strands God was using to weave together His tapestry.  I became aware of connections where one person’s strand overlapped another. I noticed the different friendships that I made my first year and how they have grown stronger. I reflected on friends I made along the way that are no longer with us in person, like Will and Jan, or those no longer here on Earth, like Fr. Beiting and MaryJo Beemon, who I worked with when I first began attending this mission retreat. Still, instead of overwhelming sadness or anything else there was just noticing, seeing the different strands and connections, and a thankfulness that God would allow me to be part of His beautiful masterpiece, one tiny thread at a time.

I think sometimes in life when I am facing those moments at the back of the tapestry I can get upset and uncomfortable and even question God about why some strings I had hoped would be long or even lifetime were suddenly cut short and others that were very trying or difficult seemed to go on much longer than I would have liked. I need to pray more for the grace to accept that I don't need to make sense or understand fully why things happen the way that they do but instead trust that God, who sees completely the right side of things and how to bring about the greatest good, is the one who is doing the weaving instead of me in my short sightedness. My experiences in Appalachia Kentucky are just small pieces of the tapestry God is weaving together in His grand and glorious vision. I am thankful to have received a glimpse of His side of the story, to have been given some of the "complete understanding" that will one day come to completion when I stand with Him on the other side.

What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later. -John 13:7


Christine Dufresne has been a Promised Pauline Cooperator for 4 years. Originally from New Bedford, MA, she served at a mission in Kentucky for 16 months before moving back to MA where she currently lives in Norwood. In addition to being a foster parent, she has been working with children in various ways for the past 25 years, helping with the children's program on retreats and with the Holy Family Institute group in Boston, and is currently a nanny for several families. She serves as a Eucharistic minister in her home parish of St. Catherine’s in Norwood and visits the hospital monthly to bring Scripture and Communion to patients in the eating disorders and behavioral management wards.  Most recently she has graduated with her Associated Degree in 2017 and has gone on to pursue her Bachelor's  in Psychology/Human Services with an anticipated graduation in May of 2020.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Rosary of the Pauline Family

The Luminous Mysteries are some of my favorite rosary mysteries.  Sr. Margaret Joseph, fsp, introduced me to this version of the Luminous Mysteries, in which the different branches of the Pauline family are remembered in each decade.  There is no power on Earth that matches the power of prayer, so together let us pray for our brothers and sisters in the Pauline family throughout the world.

Rosary of the Pauline Family
Mysteries of Light
The Pauline Family—ten rays lit just over 100 years ago by the Father, to live and give Jesus, Way, Truth, and Life, in the light and power of the Holy Spirit, for the salvation of the world. Praying the Mysteries of Light, we offer each decade for one or more of the branches of this Family.

1. The Baptism of Jesus—Association of Pauline Cooperators

Vatican II declared that Baptism is the foundation for mission. We pray for the Association of Pauline Cooperators, people from every state and walk of life, who live their baptismal call through the charism they share with us.


2. The Wedding at Cana—ISF and Apostoline
Jesus, the Bridegroom of Israel, chose a wedding for the first of his signs, pointing to God’s new covenant with his people. We pray for the members of the Institute of the Holy Family, consecrated as signs of this love. We also pray for the Sisters of Mary, Queen of Apostles, as they, like her, summon us all to live in this covenant, being and doing whatever Jesus tells us.

3. The Proclamation of the Kingdom—SSP, FSP, Pastorelle
"Repent and believe the good news" of Jesus Christ, our Master-Shepherd! We pray for the Society of St. Paul, the Daughters of St. Paul, and the Sisters of Jesus the Good Shepherd. Living in continual conversion and healing, may they be ambassadors of reconciliation as "evangelizers, catechists, and apostles of social communication" in a world that longs for Christ’s word of truth, goodness, and love.

4. The Transfiguration—Annunciationists and Gabrielites
We pray for the Institutes of Mary Most Holy of the Annunciation and of St. Gabriel the Archangel, as they follow and announce only Jesus Christ, "whom the Father, in his boundless love, sent into the world, saying: ‘This is my beloved Son, hear him.’"

5. The Institution of the Eucharist—PDDM and IGS

"From here I want to enlighten." Primo Maestro understood these words to refer to both the Eucharist and the Pauline Family. We pray for the Sister Disciples of the Divine Master, who lovingly hold both of these treasures in their hands and hearts. We pray, too, for the clergy of the Institute of Jesus the Priest, who bring Jesus Life to both the Pauline Family and the whole Church.
Hail, Holy Queen
Sing: Glorify Our Founder
Jesus Master-Shepherd, WTL…
Mary, Queen of Apostles and Mother of the Good Shepherd…
Sts. Peter and Paul…

Christine Dufresne has been a Pauline Cooperator for 3 years. Originally from New Bedford, MA, she served at a mission in Kentucky for 16 months before settling in Waltham, MA. In addition to being a foster parent, she has been working with children in various ways for the past 20 years, helping with the children's program on retreats and with the Holy Family Institute group in Boston, and is currently a nanny for several families. She serves as a Eucharistic minister in her home parish of St. Mary’s in Waltham and visits the hospital monthly to bring Scripture and Communion to patients in the eating disorders and behavioral management wards.  Most recently she has graduated with her Associated Degree and has gone on to pursue her Bachelor's and Master's in the Human Services/Art Therapy fields.