Saturday, June 15, 2013

Happy Birthday to us!

Teresa Merlo would take the name
"Thecla" after Paul's premier
woman disciple.
98 years ago today, according to our community's oral tradition, 21-year-old Teresa Merlo met for a few minutes with seminary professor Father James Alberione (nicknamed "The Theologian") in the sacristy of the Church of Sts. Cosmos and Damien in Alba, Italy. Merlo's mother waited somewhat
anxiously in the nave.

Teresa had tried to enter religious life already, but the local communities didn't think she had the health. Did Alberione know of yet another order? Or did his tiny printing school need Teresa's expertise (and access to her fine sewing machine, a gift her parents had made upon her successful completion of the program in far-off Turin), to make clothing for the boy printers?

When Teresa reappeared, her mother wanted to know everything. What did The Theologian have to say? It turns out he had spoken of a new community of sisters, women who for now could only do piecework with their sewing needles, but who would one day run printing presses to spread the Gospel. They would live in community, and make the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. And one day, they would be all over the world. He asked me to take part in this.

"Well?" Mother Merlo asked, prying at the bottom line.

"I said yes."

Years later (in 1950), Mother Thecla made her movie debut (second from
 left),  appearing as the prophetess Anna in the full-length motion picture,
 "Mater Dei." (This Pauline film was the first color film in Italy.)


Ruth Ann Pilney said...

What a simple and beautiful story! said...

Thank you to all of the Daughters of St. Paul you have said "yes" to the calling.
Denise Cancienne Tabor

Saying yes seems easy, but it calls for so much trust in God.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday to your Community! Our family converted en mass back in 1992 in Toronto,accompanied by the DSP (Dufferin location) under Sister Kenneth, Sr. Lorraine, Sr. Hannah, Sr. Regina. They were more than the operators of a bookstore, they were our companions on our faith journey and their support made for a wonderful experience. Thank you to all of you for your vocations. - Jean