Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Pope St. John XXIII

“Our greatness, our glory is found in our serene daily efforts – without excess – marked by profound love for Jesus. In our daily effort to carry out the duty Providence has assigned us, we should give more attention to doing the little things well rather than trying to accomplish great works.”  Secret to Happiness: Wisdom from John XXIII (Classic Wisdom Collection, Pauline Books and Media).

Pope St.John XXIII: a typically wry quotation
My affection for Pope Saint John XXIII began sometime late in 2008, after discovering a new movie on his life from Ignatius Press Studios staring Ed Asner.  Honestly, my decision to watch was based purely on curiosity as to whether or not Ed Asner (of Mary Tyler Moore fame) could pull off playing the role of a pope.  I knew very little about recently canonized Saint John XXIII but was quickly drawn into this recounting of his life, ministry and papacy.  For the record, Ed Asner performs incredibly believably in the role of a humble, holy and witty John the 23rd!  At the end of the movie, Mr Asner had not only won himself a new fan girl but also had a new one for the affable pope. 

In an effort to learn more about the real Pope John XXIII, I took to the internet. After being raised Catholic in a marginally Catholic home, and disconnecting for several years; I “reverted” back to practicing the faith in 2005.  My knowledge of the Catholic faith, especially of the early Church and  the papacy, was extremely limited.  After reading so much about John XXIII's incredible reign as pope, I wanted to experience his spirituality in his own words.  I picked up Journal of a Soul: Autobiography of Pope John XXIII; and our spiritual love affair bloomed.  The only thing about this fabulous book I did not like was the size!!  While it is a blessing to have so much of his personal thoughts and writings to contemplate, it is a wee bit bulky for my pocketbook or 'adoration reading materials' bag. **Although, the majority of the spiritual reading I bring with me for my Adoration Holy Hour can be found on smart phone or iPad; I still love bringing books and novena pamphlets with me. These help me from straying off my reading and into social media on those days my resolve is weak!
Secret to Happiness @Pauline Books and Media

This is true of many of my favorite books by the Saints and classic Catholic thinkers and writers – hence my love affair with the Classic Wisdom Collection from Pauline Books and Media.  Therese of Lisieux, John Paul II, Francis de Sales, Luis Martinez, and so many others!

In Secret to Happiness: Wisdom from John XXIII , my spiritual journey with this dear Pope continued. As often happens when you seek guidance from the Holy Spirit; the theme and teachings contained in this book came at the most perfect time.  Struggling with envy and self-absorption, especially in my work, I found in Pope St. John XXIII the perfect words to guide me forward to God and away from these sinful inclinations.  John XXIII shared his own battle with these topics – which given how humble and obedient to God's will he always appeared -- brought me great comfort and hope!

Along with the reminder to focus on my daily work, to be diligent and mindful of the importance of even the littlest task if done for the glory of God (as expressed in the opening quote of this piece), Pope St. John XXIII gave me additional words of wisdom. Another of my favorite lessons came in his discernment of how to reconcile his desire to be a saint with confusion on finding the path God had for him to accomplish this goal.  This goal of sainthood, I will remind us, is God's will for every man and woman, not just popes! He wrote, “Well then, I do not want to become a saint by defacing an original painting in order to become an unsatisfactory copy of someone else with a character markedly different from my own.”   This statement hit a bulls-eye on the jealousy with which I had been wrestling.  As I watched other people succeed with projects that brought them recognition or perceived holiness, I longed for those same opportunities.  I was convinced that if I could be blessed with the same chances, my road to heaven and pleasing God would be fulfilled.

John XXIII taught me not to try to rework the masterpiece of another to fit me, but to allow God – through the submission of my will to His – to mold me into the original work of art I was created to be.  I was not created to be a carbon-copy; evidenced by my unique fingerprint and dental imprint (perhaps I need to watch a little less CSI – regardless the point still remains).  “I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well” (Psalm 139). Jealousy and self-love have no place in the work of sanctification; His love and grace are sufficient to bring us all to sainthood, if we allow Him to accomplish His great work within us.


Allison Gingras is the founder of (RTY); and host of A Seeking Heart on Breadbox Media weekdays 10 am ET. Allison created the "Words with" daily devotional App Series: Words with Jesus and Words with Mary. Allison offers retreats and talks on: Forgiveness; Works of Mercy; Trust and JOY!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Mary, Mother and Teacher of Apostles

“Following the Apostles, all announcers of the Gospel, the preachers of the divine Word, set out from the feet of Mary.” Blessed Alberione

I recently saw the 2015 film release, “Full of Grace: The Story of Mary the Mother of Jesus” which beautifully captures this quote of our Founder. In this “breathtaking film and celebration of faith,” set in Jerusalem in 43 AD, Mary is seen living out her final days on earth in reflection. She looks back on all she has experienced in her life with Jesus, from His birth through His resurrection. Mary saw, she remembered and meditated. “She treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Lk 2:19, 51)

Full of Grace: The Story of Mary of NazarethAnd as the Mother of the Church, having been present with the Apostles at Pentecost, she now counsels and supports the Apostles, helping them to navigate the turbulent waters of the early Church. In the film she is shown in a particular way assisting St. Peter with her wisdom and strength. She encourages him to remember and be still; "when you are still Peter, where does he call you?" She helps Peter to see that it is the Spirit of Jesus who calls him forth. And it is this same Spirit who is leading the Church. "You are not leading, Peter, you are following. He has already gone before you." 

This was and still is her role as Mother of the Church and Queen of the Apostles. The Apostles had undergone a tremendous crisis following the death of Jesus. They had needed someone who they could trust, who they could turn to for guidance and support. They had found this person in Mary.

Mary is there for each one of us, too, She has much to teach us. "You cannot let the weight of this world outshine the light that you carry within." "The walk of faith comes with a promise: the promise that we will never be alone." "Listen to the stillness, the silence..." "The question is not whether we will struggle. We will struggle greatly. The question is, to whom do we look in the struggle?" "We remember, we listen, we follow and we trust...It is time to tell the world the Good News!"

And we Paulines are all about telling the world the Good News! In these final days of May we continue our walk with Mary. We gather around her as did the first Apostles so many years ago. We ask her to teach us, to guide and support us, as she did them. We ask her to obtain all the grace we need in our apostolate today. We want to respond every more faithfully to the needs of our times, and she is there to assist us with her guidance and support.

Blessed Alberione wisely tells us, “Mary is the Queen of Apostles. If we are to perform the apostolate, let us stay with Mary. ... [T]o exclude Mary from the apostolate would be to ignore one of the most essential parts of God’s redemptive plan. We would deprive ourselves of the powerful intercession of Mary.” Let us renew our love and devotion to her, our Queen of Apostles. Let us set out from her feet as did the first Apostles. In this way we can be confident that our efforts will bear good fruit.


Sr. Laura R. Brown has been a Daughter of St. Paul since 1985 and has been assigned to many communities. Her current assignments in St. Louis, MO, include outreach, as well as assistance with Pauline Book & Media Center events. She has an MA in  parish evangelization and theology and participated in the Pauline Charism Course in Rome from 2008 to 2009.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Why Cooperate?, Redux

Last month, Kristen Filipic kicked off our series of profiles of Pauline laity with her own profile, "Why Cooperate?" We began the series in the hopes that we lay members of the Pauline Family could have an ongoing conversation about what attracts us to the Paulines. Why do we keep coming back? How we are personally involved in the Apostolate? Kristen invited other lay members of the Pauline Family to do as she did. She hoped that we could learn from each other as we collaborate with our professed sisters and brothers in realizing the Founder's vision -- of a legion of St. Pauls dotting the world, using modern social media to bring Jesus Christ Way, Truth and Life to the world.

Almost immediately, Kristen's hope was answered. Holy Family Institute member and lay Coooperator Louise Ketchum Hunt wrote us in the hopes that she might share her own story and that of her husband, also a Cooperator and HFI member. What a delight! As your read our interview with Louise, consider if yours might be the next story to keep the baton going. We want to hear from you...

Pauline Laity Blog (PLB): What motivated you to share your story of becoming a member of the Pauline Family with your husband Jim?
A truly Pauline family: James Hunt,
Sr. Marie James Hunt, and Louise K. Hunt.

Louise Hunt (LH):  I came across Kristin Filipic’s article, "Why Cooperate?", in this blog.  I wished to share my story also, as a member of the Pauline Cooperators since 1980 and a member of the Holy Family Institute with Jim since 2008.

PLB: My goodness, that is a whole thirty-six years ago. How did you first come in contact with the Pauline Family?

LH:  In 1977, my 12-year old daughter Anne Marie and I were at the Arlington Diocesan annual education conference volunteering at the Pro-life display. We saw Sisters at another display selling books. We walked over to talk with them and found they were the Daughters of St. Paul from Philadelphia. That exchange led to the past thirty-six years of involvement with that order, the Daughters of St. Paul. We became Cooperators, first helping Mother Paula Cordero set up their store on King Street in Alexandria.

PLB: What else?
First fruits of the Apostolate: Sr. Marie James Hunt,
 Louise & Jim's daughter

LH: Well, then, our daughter Anne Marie decided to enter the Daughters of St. Paul. She is Sr. Marie James Hunt.

PLB: Amazing and wonderfulHow did that come about?

LH: When we were talking to the Sisters at the Arlington conference, Sr. Antoinette asked Anne Marie if she ever thought of being a Sister. She didn’t know what to say. Sr. Antoinette asked for her address and told her that she would send her information about visiting them in Philadelphia. Letters followed from the Sisters. I had a friend whose teenage daughter wanted to be a Sister but couldn’t locate a Congregation that would take high school girls. When I learned that the Daughters of St. Paul had a high school program at the Motherhouse in Boston, I gave the information to my friend for her daughter. That summer of 1978 that girl and the daughter of another friend both entered religious life in Boston. One of them was Sr. Annette Boccabello, who died in 2012, and the other is Sr. Kathryn Hermes.

PLB: It sounds like God was writing straight with crooked lines, as always. Then what happened?

LH: The tie that brought Anne Marie to enter was visiting the two postulants who entered in 1978. We made trips to Maine where I had family. Anne Marie flew to visit the Sisters during the Easter retreats, also. After her fifth return trip home from Boston, at age 15, she said that she wanted to give it a try since she had questioned and seen what her life would be with the Daughters of St. Paul. A month before her 16th birthday, she was accepted and entered the Congregation.

PLB: That is certainly a wonderful fruit of your involvement with the sisters!

LH: Yes it is. And we continued to help the sisters and to promote vocations. Over the years we gave our support to the different Pauline events in Virginia and Boston. Mother Paula made the parents welcome. At least three times we volunteered to drive girls to Boston in our big van for the Easter Retreats. I remember the time when we had about six young ladies with us.We stopped for lunch. A man came up to ask if they were a dance troupe going to New York. Of course, they all burst out laughing! One of the girls was Sr. Mary Grace. She told her classmate about Boston and after visits, she entered. Today she is Sr. Carmen Pompei.

PLB: You sound like a two-person recruiting team! You and Jim must have trusted the Daughters of St. Paul very much.

As a mother of a Daughter of St. Paul, I often thought of the older Italian Daughters who were there when Anne Marie entered religious life. They were the ones who took over raising my child. Letting her go to do what she believed was right for her, required great faith from Jim and I. God gives us these children and we aren’t supposed to keep them with us unless that is their desire. 

Some parents would comment, “What does a girl know about making decisions when she is so young?” We think that the decision has to do with answering a call that God puts in the hearts of those He wants. That call is a serious thing that has to be answered. Now we have our Sr. Marie James who will celebrate 35 years of religious life since entering the Daughters of St. Paul. She has never changed in who she is in our family. Our home has grown rich in love and graces bestowed upon us as her mother and father, and in a way as parents of all of the Daughters of St. Paul.

PLB: You are a registered nurse, an RN. Has that played a role in your collaboration with the sisters?

LH: Oh, yes. During this time, we became close to Mother Paula Cordero. One of the novices was an RN. Mother Paula wanted to establish an Infirmary for the care of the Sisters as needed. Jim and I made trips to Boston to talk about the plan and it was finalized. 

As Mother Paula endured major illnesses, she became weak and was hospitalized at times. I told the young nurse to give me a call if they brought Mother Paula home in her last days. About a week before she died, I went to Boston to help care for her. Her doctor told me that she didn’t have a long time to live. We made her comfortable. The Sisters who had been at her side for many years remained close to the bedside praying for her.

I had done private duty nursing in homes before hospice care was initiated. The family requires care as much as the dying person, so I was there to see that all was done well and give comfort to the Sisters. I was called to Mother Paula’s bedside shortly after midnight. As with many who die without heavy medication, Mother Paula was propped up in bed and looking at the Sisters gathered in the room. She was trying to talk to them and then she died.

After that time, many of the Sisters would tell me, “You are one of us”. 

PLB:  What a privilege to attend Mother Paula at her death. And so you and Jim worked from 1980 to 2008 as Cooperators with the Daughters of St. Paul, helping them in their Alexandria mission. Then what happened?

LH:  In 2008, we went to New Jersey for a Cooperator’s meeting that was about Fr. James Alberione, our Founder. There I was invited to consider becoming a member of the Holy Family Institute (HFI). Jim and I prayed and talked about the HFI, and then decided to see what it was about. We wrote our letter to Fr. Tom Fogarty SSP, the HFI Spiritual Director. We began our daily life of Pauline prayer, looking forward to taking the vows of consecrated man and wife.

Now we are in our seventh year of preparation to make our perpetual vows as members of the Pauline Holy Family Institute on September 18, at the gathering of the annual HFI Triduum in Canfield, Ohio. Pray for us!

PLB: The Pauline mission is to be modern St. Paul’s and use every means of communication to bring Jesus Christ, Way, Truth and Life to the modern world. How do you carry out this mission of evangelization?

Recent fruit of the Apostolate:In the Shadow
 of the Steel Crossby Louise Ketchum Hunt
LH: Nearly three years ago, a priest encouraged me to write a book about my ancestors and the massacre of the Norridgewock Tribe and Fr. Sebastien Rale SJ. As a way of using my Pauline involvement in good social media, I accepted his recommendation and his help in writing my book, just published this year. The name of my book is In the Shadow of the Steel Cross: The Massacre of Fr. Sebastien Rale, S.J. and the Indian Chiefs.  I am the author, Louise Ketchum Hunt.

PLB: Was it difficult bringing your book from manuscript to publication?

LH: Here is how things happen when you ask for help to solve a problem. Last July, a Daughter of St. Paul in Metarie, La. handed me a card left there by a Friar who was supporting the work of a Catholic publisher in Phoenix. At that time, I was finishing my manuscript, but didn’t have a publisher. The name of the publishing company is Vesuvius Press and Amor Deus, which translates from Latin as "The Love of God",  is the imprint under which my book is published. If anyone wishes to have a copy of my book, go to

Click here to read a review of In the Shadow of the Steel Cross by Louise Ketchum Hunt.

PLB: Thank you, Louise!  Blessings on all of your efforts.  One of this blog's editors has already acquired a copy of your book, and the other will make a point of getting it also. We look forward to a great and inspirational.

Rae Stabosz has been a member of the Association of Pauline Cooperators since 2003. She and Bill Stabosz, her husband of 46 years, have six sons, three daughters, nine grandsons and seven granddaughters; they eagerly await the birth of grand #17. Rae retired in 2007 from the University of Delaware, where she was a technology and media specialist for 27 years. She is co-founder and past president of The Society of Catholic Scholars of Delaware and proprietor, since 2004, of the Pious Ladies Bookmobile.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Feminine Genius

You gotta love a pope who talks about "feminine genius."

Recently, I had the pleasure to facilitate an Endow study group for women at my parish on Pope Saint John Paul II's Letter to Women: An Introduction to the New Feminism.

The feminine genius he talks about in this letter, written in 1995, is the innate, capacity that women have to make room for 'the other,' in receptivity, sensitivity, generosity and maternity.  Our model for the feminine genius is Mary, who was receptive to the Angel and gave her 'fiat' to become the mother of our Savior.  She was sensitive to the couple at Cana, interceding with her Son to help them when they ran out of wine.  She shared her Son with us all, and became our model as woman.

Click here to purchase.
Pope Saint John Paul II's "Letter to Women" is a love letter to all women on behalf of the Church, recognizing our dignity and value, our complementarity to men, and the many gifts we bring to the Church and society.  It does not dismiss our femininity, nor does it ask us to deny it, but shows how true feminism appreciates and  honors the uniqueness of woman.  It also addresses the role of women in the Church, and while it provides clear teaching on the subject of ordination for women, it lauds the contributions of women who embody the feminine genius.

As we finished this study group, two events occurred which really made me appreciate the Pope's letter even more.  The Church lost a great champion of evangelization in the death of Mother Mary Angelica, foundress of EWTN.  Around the same time, the date of canonization of the late Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta was announced.  These two women, along with the Pauline family's own  Mother Thecla Merlo,  demonstrate just how much women can accomplish when they are receptive to the Holy Spirit, and trust the Lord to lead them to do His work in ways they never imagined.

I think of Mother Angelica, who happened to tour a television station and was inspired to create what has become a worldwide Catholic television and radio network, despite resistance from within and outside the Church.  Her trust in the Lord to provide what was needed when she had no idea where the money would come from is a lesson for us all in His divine providence.

I look at Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who had a pretty comfortable teaching position in India when she went on retreat and received a very clear message from God to work with the "poorest of the poor."  She, too, met resistance from her own community and was patient and obedient as God opened the doors for her to establish the Missionaries of Charity.

Mother Thecla Merlo was not even a religious at the time Father James Alberione asked her about joining him in evangelization.  At a time when it was unheard of for women to be in publishing, Mother Thecla and the Daughters of Saint Paul embarked on a new path to provide evangelization through the media and bring the word of God to the whole world.

These three women, and so many more, while not mothers in the biological sense, were spiritual mothers to countless numbers of those searching for the only food that can truly feed us, the Bread of Life.  Their ability to be receptive, to give their own 'fiat' to where God was leading them, and to generously share with others the Gospel through not only their accomplishments but also their own examples of self-sacrifice and trust, and their maternity to a world so in need of mothering, are exactly what Saint John Paul II so beautifully described as the "feminine genius."

As we approach Mother's Day and the month where we celebrate Mary, the model of feminine genius, may you give thanks for the all the mothers in your life, biological, spiritual, and otherwise, and appreciate the many gifts that faithful women bring to our life, our Church, and our world.


Bernadette Boguski has been a Pauline Cooperator for over 20 years. She is a member of St. Columbkille Parish in Parma, OH, where she serves as a Eucharistic Minister, cantor, and member of the music ministry. Bernadette holds a degree in journalism from Bowling Green State University and currently serves as the development director for Womankind, a nonprofit agency providing free prenatal care and support services for pregnant women in need. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Why Cooperate?

What attracted you to the Pauline Family?  
Why do you keep coming back?  
How are you involved in the apostolate in your own life?  

So often many of us Pauline Cooperators do not have the time or opportunity to have these conversations among our own groups of Cooperators.  How much harder is it to engage with and learn from Cooperators who live across the country or around the world?

We are starting a periodic series of Cooperator profiles on the blog in order to start these conversations among the wider Cooperator community.  Blog Coordinators Christine and Rae have asked me to begin.  Please use these questions as a jumping off point to share your own story -- or feel free to adapt them!  Let’s share our stories.

How did you learn about the Pauline family?

I used to live in Chicago for a few years and would sometimes pass by the Pauline book and media center downtown.  I never went inside for some reason, but I was vaguely aware that it existed.  Several years ago, I was looking around for some sort of lay association.  There are so many religious orders in Boston, where do you even start to find the right match?  I started off with some communities that looked like they would be great fits on paper, but they didn’t quite fit.  The Daughters of St Paul provincial house is in my neighborhood, within walking distance of my house so I thought I should check them out at least once.  I was hooked and kept coming back!

What attracted you about the Pauline charism?

When I was finishing college, I read Dorothy Day’s autobiography Loaves and Fishes.  In the
opening scene, Peter Maurin is bursting into her apartment telling her that as they were about to start this Catholic Worker movement she needed to start a newspaper in order to facilitate “the clarification of thought.” I was just finishing my undergraduate years where I had majored in philosophy, was editor-in-chief of our college newspaper, and had been the head of our campus fellowship group.  This idea of using a newspaper to facilitate “the clarification of thought” seemed to be made for me.  Then life went on and I started to get settled into adulthood I stopped thinking about that.

Years later, as I started reading about Father Alberione and the Pauline charism all those memories started to come back.  How can I be contributing to the Clarification of Thought?

How has your involvement with the Pauline family enriched your spiritual life?

I love the Pauline emphasis on Jesus as Divine Master, Way Truth and Life.  Being a Christian disciple is not only a matter of going to church on Sundays and saying my prayers, as important as those are, but should shape how I am an employee, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a friend, a neighbor, a consumer, a citizen, and everything else.  Pauline devotions keep reminding me that Jesus must not only be my Truth but my Way and Life as well.

I appreciate the practice of a Visit -- to settle myself down in a chapel, set my cell phone alarm for an hour and just stay there until I hear the alarm sound.  Sometimes I may have a lot to talk about and sometimes I am just settling in and being in the presence of God.  I find that setting aside those extended periods of time and giving the Holy Spirit space to do his thing is a discipline that feeds my soul.

How are you participating in the Pauline apostolate now?

I participate in the Christian Humanist Radio Network, which is an ecumenical group of scholars exploring their various fields from a confessional Christian perspective.  I very occasionally appear on air but am more often behind the scenes specifically organizing our interview program Christian Humanist Profiles which features in-depth conversations most frequently with authors who have recently released books.  I work with publishing houses and authors to keep a steady stream of guests coming for Profiles.  We’ve featured a St. Paul’s Press book Letters of Fire, and have had a variety of big names including Anglican Bishop N.T. Wright and Father James Martin SJ.

How about you?  How do you live the Pauline charism in your own lives?  Please consider sharing your story, using these questions or using your own, so that we can learn from each other in our journeys following Jesus our Divine Master.  When you are ready to share your story you can email Christine at .


Kristen Filipic has been involved with the Pauline family since 2010 and completed the Cooperator Formation program in 2014.  She is a native Midwesterner but has lived in Boston for the last twelve years, where she works as a civil rights attorney.  She serves as a lector and a Bible study leader in her home church.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

From Formed to Transformed (God's Amazing Grace)

I am honored and happy to be invited to share my spiritual journey experience with you. It’s wonderful to know that we belong to the same Pauline family although we come from different parts of the world. Blessed Alberione foresaw the power of the social media that would connect us all together. He is indeed awesome and amazing…

I come from a typical Chinese Buddhist family, with loving parents and a total of 7 children. When I was conceived, my parents already had a son and two daughters, each with an age gap of between one year to two years. It was a burden to keep me. They felt they had no choice but to terminate the pregnancy! The Chinese medicine which my mom took was definitely a lousy concoction because it not only did not terminate the pregnancy but made me even more determined to stay on! Frightened by the outcome, my grandmother immediately loaded my mom with health tonics to boost my health and growth. I must have been super eager to come into this world -- I was delivered in the hospital elevator, amazingly with no defects or handicaps! That was the beginning of the many great works that the Almighty God has done for me! This first episode revealed that God has made me solely for His purpose. I am unique and special.

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."  --- Jeremiah 1:5 

After I was born, my dad was still determined to give me away, feeling it a burden to have so many mouths to feed. But, my mom would not let me go. It was too heartbreaking for my dad to see her cry at parting with me. Another battle won in staying on in the family, but the battle goes on... 

This episode confirmed my understanding of a mother's love for and bond with her baby after carrying her for nine months in her womb. Therefore, I am pro-life and strongly against abortion.

My first contact with the Catholic Church came when I was six. My parents sent me to my grandparents on weekdays so that I could go to a good convent school. Life was miserable at the beginning. The separation was awful and I will never forget the parting and reunion once a week. It left a big scar in my life and made me terrified of parting and separation. As I grew up, I would cry easily when I saw strangers saying goodbyes at the airport or at a funeral. Twenty years later, the priest at an Exodus Experience retreat helped me work through these events that had caused me such agony. 

In this episode I first experienced the healing power of God. 

When I was seventeen, I joined the Catholic Students’ Society during my tertiary education. My fellow Catholic students influenced me to the point that I decided to get baptized and become part of the group. My dad strongly objected to my baptism. He tried to persuade me to wait until I got married, so that I could follow my future husband's religion. I went ahead without his consent. He was very upset with me and started to say things like, "I wish I had given you away…” That was how my past was revealed to me. At first I was upset and hurt. But their present love for me compensated for their past decisions. They never loved me less than my other siblings. My dad was my hero and the love of my life. It's no wonder that God then began using me to bring Dad to Him. I found out that Dad had left the Catholic Church sixty years ago. God brought first me and then my younger sister to the Catholic faith. Then my dad was able to go back to God, on his dying bed, through our intercession. His amazing grace!

After I graduated from school and started working, I became a "Sunday Catholic."

Like many practicing Catholics, my spiritual life was based on the five precepts of the Church:

  1. attend mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation
  2. confess my sins at least once a year
  3. receive the Sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season
  4. observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church
  5. help to provide for the needs of the Church
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2041-2043)

The turning point of my life came when I was twenty-six. I was invited to a Parish Renewal Experience. That weekend, I discovered I was a Singaporean Catholic and not a Catholic Singaporean. My identity had been reversed! I was born for a purpose, made for everlasting life. Reformed from being a Sunday Catholic, I became a follower of Christ who wanted to build His kingdom on earth!

I joined the Youth Group, the Legion of Mary, and participated in programs and retreats like Choice and Exodus. The Charismatic Renewal Prayer Group began in our church and needed members to help. I attended the Life in the Spirit seminar and was transformed by an outpouring of the Holy Spirit!  From a shy and timid person, I became a charismatic shepherd, leading in praise and worship!

Little did I know that God had a bigger challenge for me when I turned thirty: marriage. The four years of faith formation in the Renewal prepared me for the big cross that I had to carry, my married life. I am grateful for the challenge of my marriage. Because of my husband, I came to depend more and more on Jesus and grew closer to Him. The church became my refuge but I always returned home, reminded by the nuns or priest to keep the promise of my marriage vows. My husband is a good and generous man, just difficult to live with. And God had given me two girls, who by His grace have turned out beautiful and wonderful despite our dysfunctional marital relationship of twenty-seven years. The challenge to conform to the Church’s law that marriage is a covenant has made me a stronger person and has helped keep my family together.  

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.   ---  Romans 8:28

My first encounter with the Daughters of St Paul in Hong Kong was in the early 90s in our parish, at their book display outreach activities. The sisters invited me many times to visit their convent but I was too busy taking care of my toddlers. Then in 2007 I met Sister Grace Lee, a Singaporean FSP stationed in Macau. She invited me to join the APC in 2008. And so I became a Pauline Cooperator. The irresistible charism of St Paul and Blessed Aberione’s desire for us to become modern day St Pauls provided me the Way to lead a sanctified life.

I now yearn to be transformed by my Lord, Jesus the Master. Prayer is the oxygen to my spiritual life. Every day, I attend morning Mass to be in communion with Him, read His words, and adore Him in the Blessed Sacrament. The secret to my spiritual growth is building a close relationship with Him, who is the Master, Way, Truth and Life. This disciplined life not only brings me closer to my Lord, it also makes my life healthier with the “early to bed, early to rise” habit. My purpose now is to lead a sanctified life, to glorify God in my marriage, and to spread His gospel of love so that more people will enter His kingdom with me.

I have been formed, deformed, reformed, conformed, and transformed by Jesus Master, The Way, Truth and Life, my Living God. Amen!

Cheryl Pong, a Singaporean married to a Hong Konger, has lived in Hong Kong for the past 27 years. She is blessed with two adult girls, one working and the other still in a graduate school. She made her commitment to the Pauline family in June 2011. She helps in her parish adult catechism class, with catechumens age ranging from 17 to 70. But her greatest joy is that God brought her back to the Charismatic Renewal Prayer group last year, after leaving the group for 25 years. With the Power of the Holy Spirit, she hopes to live out St Paul's spirit that "it's no longer I that liveth but Christ that liveth in me:" Galatians 2:20.