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Blessed Alberione

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THE FOUNDER OF PAULINE FAMILY

Giacomo (James) Alberione was born on the 4th of April 1884 in "San Lorenzo di Fossano" in the District of "Cuneo", North Italy. He was the fifth son of Michele Alberione and Teresa Alocco . They were farmers by profession and had to work hard to sustain the family.

The little boy Giacomo began his education at the local elementary school. Although he did not have any outstanding qualities, he gave a sign of his vocation at the tender age of six. One day his teacher put a question to each of her pupils as to what each one would like to become. When the turn came to James to answer, he said quite candidly: "I am going to be a priest".

After completion of the school, he joined the minor seminary at Bra. There, as a teenager, he became a voracious reader, especially of romantic novels. That indiscriminate reading put him into some sort of spiritual crisis which merited him a dismissal from the seminary.

Back at home he deeply repented of his folly and ardently prayed for his re-entry into the seminary. He was 16 years old at that time. As a rule, a dismissed seminarian would not be re-admitted in the seminary. But in the case of James, the Lord providentially intervened. James own Parish Priest had a very good opinion about the young man. At the strong pleading of the Parish Priest with the authorities concerned, James, as an exceptional case, could re-enter the seminary in Alba in the year 1900.

Some 30 years after his ordination, Fr James Alberione made a remark to a group of seminarians saying: "A young man who has read romanitic novels will never be able to learn theology properly!". Though this remark is bit of an exaggeration, it is a serious warning of the danger of losing ones great vocation through indiscriminate reading.

In conformity with the desire of the then Pope , Leo XIII, there was a night-long adoration to the Blessed Sacrament on the 31 December, 1900 in the Cathedral of Alba to pray for the divine blessings on the 20th century. Young James knelt in prayer in the Alba Cathedral with the other students. His mind was serene and calm as he was following the spiritual advices of his Spiritual Director. A few days prior to the adoration, he had attended a seminar addressed by distinguished speakers who stressed on the need of unity among Catholics as the Church at that time was struggling with internal defections and external adversaries. They had insisted on the necessity of a strong Catholic Press to counteract such evils and to communicate Catholic teachings to everyone.

On the 29th of June 1907 James Alberione was ordained a priest at the age of 23. His first appointment was to Assist an ailing nearby Parish Priest . Meanwhile, studious as he always was, he managed to obtain a Doctorate in Theology from the St Thomas Theological College, Genoa.

Seeing the spiritual and intellectual maturity in the young priest, Fr Alberione, in 1908 the Bishop of Alba appointed him as the Spiritual Director and Confessor of the seminarians. He held this duty admirably well. It was a serious responsibility for such an inexperienced man but, even as a student, Fr Alberione had impressed his classmates, teachers and superiors by his holiness, wisdom and sound common sense.

In the course of time Fr Alberione was assigned to more and more tasks. He lectured on Church History, and taught Sacred Eloquence, Liturgy and the history of Art. He was the Master of Ceremonies to the Bishop and was deeply involved in every other aspect of seminary life. Meanwhile he saw quite clearly that the fruits of his liturgical studies, of new thoughts on Scripture and of other branches of sacred learning should be brought to the people in a way they could

grasp. Atheism, immorality, anticlericalism, etc., were rampant everywhere and their protagonists were spreading their ideas through the most potent medium of the time, the Press. The very same medium, the Press, Fr Alberione thought, would be the most effective means to enlighten people in the Catholic teachings and to counteract the evil forces.

Provoked by the problems of the time, the Bishop of Alba felt the need of revamping the Diocesan newspaper, well produced and edited, which would unite his people by presenting Christian teaching clearly to them. He thought Fr Alberione to be the right person to edit the Diocesan newspaper "Gazzetta dAlba", and added that post to him on 12 September 1913. Thus the Bishop of Alba made the hour of God strike for Fr Alberione for his future apostolate.

For many years before the origin of the first Pauline congregation, Fr Alberione cherished an idea of having an organisation of writers, printers and booksellers, who would have to be Religious men and women dedicated to the practice of poverty, chastity, obedience and the common life. With this inspired idea and with

the added experience in the Press, he started the Society of St Paul, then known as "Printing School", merely with two boys, in a rented house in Alba on the 20th August 1914. Tito Armani and Desiderio Costa were those boys who later became great Pauline Priests. At the end of the same year four more boys joined the little group. G. Timothy Giaccardo who was a seminarian joined Alberione in 1917. He died in 1948 and was proclaimed "Blessed" in 1989 by Pope

John Paul II.

As the 1st World War was going on, it was a very difficult time for Fr Alberione. By the year 1921 the number of the Aspirants had risen to eighty, and there was a rapid expansion of the Press. He developed a solid Pauline spirituality based on "Jesus Master, the Way, the Truth and the Life"; offered to the Paulines Mary, the mother of Jesus to be venerated as the "Queen of Apostles"; and accepted the great Apostle Paul as their patron.

Besides the Society of St Paul for men (for the spreading of the Gospel and the teachings of the Church), Fr Alberione founded different Religious Congregations for women, and four Secular Instiutes, and also the Pauline Cooperators. All these are conjointly known as the "Pauline Family".

Fr Alberione was small in stature, slight in build, and fragile in health, but he showed a surprising energy of mind and an impressive strength of will. His fatherly concern for his spiritual children impelled him to visit each Pauline community around the world. He visited the small community of the SSP in Allahabad during the extreme summer of 1949. The second House in India was started in Mumbai in 1952. He visited both the Houses in 1955 during which the first two Pauline Postulants of MumbaiFr Mark Fonseca and Br Carmel Kizhakel were privileged to be vested with the Religious Habit by him.

In November 1971 Fr Alberione, at the age of 87, fell seriously ill. On the 25th of November, in full consciousness, he received the Anointing of the Sick and Viaticum. That evening he muttered: "I am dying..... Paradise!" After an hour he gasped: "I am praying for everyone!" In a feeble voice he repeated constantly: "Ave Maria, Ave Maria!". These were his last

decipherable words. His condition worsened alarmingly on Friday, the 26th of November and by noon he was in a coma. At 5 p.m., the Holy Father, Pope Paul VI came and knelt by the bedside of the dying Fr Alberione and prayed for and over him imparting absolution and blessing. Less than half an hour later, at 6.25 p.m., the saintly Fr Alberione passed away peacefully to be with the Lord in Paradise.

On the 25th of June 1996, Fr Alberione was declared "Venerable" by Pope John Paul II. Let us pray to the good Lord to honour him in the Church by beatifying and canonising him, and to grant us many favours through him.

We can be true, zealous and happy Paulines only if we eagerly absorb the spirit of our saintly Founder. As Pauline vocation is very great, a wise Pauline in his or her formative years will pray and strive hard fortifying his or her divine call. Apart from his or her academic studies he or she must get hold of all the literature available on and by the founder.

The habit

does not make

the monk;

nor does it

make him perfect.

YOU

can have the complete

and

happy Religious

in true

Pauline spirituality only

when you achive the

Christ who lives in me