Friday, May 14, 2010

The Association of Pauline Cooperators Conference
Cape May Point, New Jersey. April 16-18, 2010

By Sr Margaret Kerry, fsp

Photo: Blessed James Alberione
The Association of Pauline Cooperators is a branch of the Pauline Family founded by Blessed James Alberione (1884-1971). Originally founded (1917) for laity, priests and religious to live the Pauline mission and spirituality with us. Today there are mostly lay members. Other branches of the family include: Society of St Paul, Daughters of St Paul, Sister Disciples of the Divine Master, Holy Family Institute, and four other Institutes. Coordination of the Association in North America is carried out by the Daughters of St Paul.

Over twenty years ago the Association was revived in the United States. National Conventions grew to include Canada. A formation program was written and in 2000 the Pauline Cooperator bi-annual magazine was launched. This year the Association held their 20th convention. The goal of this event was “Equipping the Saints.” Strategic steps were taken to organize the Association according their Statutes. Twenty-three people attended the event and mini-conferences are being held for those unable to attend. The results of the larger gathering and the smaller gatherings will be implemented through a strategic plan.

Day 1 FRIDAY – welcoming

I drove down to Cape May Point from Boston the day before the event. Sr. Karen came with me. We picked up Sr. Thecla from Staten Island, New York. At 5 PM that evening we began to welcome cooperators arriving from New Jersey, New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago and Delaware. Sr Margaret Joseph drove the crew from Boston down on Friday. Registration continued until about 6:30 PM.

We officially began the Conference with the icebreaker “Autograph Bingo.” Everyone is invited to get the spaces on their bingo cards filled with individual signatures. Later in the evening we called out names of those attending the conference. There were two winners.

After supper we viewed the movie “End of the Spear” using a lectio divina format from the Movie Lectionary by Sr Rose Pacatte. The readings for Sunday were proclaimed. A candle was lit and a Bible enthroned to create a prayerful atmosphere. After the movie we moved into the living room were wine, cheese, and crackers were served. Insights from the movie were correlated to Sunday’s readings. The sharing was very rich and challenging. Topics ranged from the environment, indigenous peoples, the Amazon rain forest, what sharing the gospel means today, etc. Two members of the group grew up in cities similar to where the story took place. Their contribution reminded us of the need to constantly deepen and broaden our awareness and appreciation diversity.

Day 2 SATURDAY - small group dynamics

Saturday began with Morning Prayer. After breakfast Sr Margaret Joseph gave a presentation entitled, “Alberione and the Cinema.” She explained that Alberione’s thought developed over time before his charismatic expression of film took root. We then viewed the trailer for a new documentary on Blessed James Alberione.

After this I presented a PowerPoint on the Charism of Communication and introduced the group work. Everyone was invited to choose either a green, orange, pink or purple slip of paper to designate their sharing group. Scribe, timekeeper, coach and cheerleader were written on some of the slips to facilitate. The goal of the group work was to answer three questions leading to organization of the Association in the United States and English Speaking Canada. After this introduction we celebrated Liturgy together.

Following a lunch with lively conversation many cooperators went to the beach for a walk or to reflect in preparation for group work. We gathered in groups at 2:30 P.M.

By 3:30 P.M. we conclude group work and enjoyed a coffee break. An Hour of Adoration is another central prayer event in our Pauline spirituality. We gathered around the altar to pray, sing and contemplate, giving thanks and sharing our petitions. Later that evening, after supper, Christin provided entertainment and insight with her play the Person2Person Project.

Day 3 SUNDAY - rejoicing in the Lord

On Sunday we began the day with solemn Morning Prayer. After breakfast each group’s chosen representative presented group insights. It was very encouraging to witness the convergence of thought and ideas. Before lunch we gathered in a semi-circle around the altar to for Sunday Liturgy. After the homily those Cooperators who had completed the initial formation program, renewed the “Promise of the Pauline Cooperator.”
Ideas are already taking shape from this Conference. One Cooperator is opening a True Life Choices community center in Wilmington, Delaware. True Life Choices will house a media studio for local schools, a book and media library, space for non-denomination worship, and “life choice” educational opportunities. Another Cooperator has contacted local Universities in her area offering to lead movie nights-Cinema Divina style. Laura from Philadelphia is coming to Boston to work toward her Master’s in Hispanic Ministry and has already started to teach media literacy in grades 7 and 8 in a Philadelphia parish school. Two regions seem promising: New York/New Jersey and Philadelphia/Delaware. Plans are developing for ongoing formation gatherings once a month.
Lay Paulines are looking forward to the day when we have an organization that will support outreach initiatives that are gospel oriented, monthly gatherings, regional retreats and training opportunities. So am I!

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