CAVITE, PHILIPPINES— The Pauline Family in the Philippines gathered at the Good Shepherd School Gym on November 24, 2013, Sunday  to celebrate the Founder’s Day. The annual gathering’s highlights include the Eucharistic Celebration with  Rev. Fr. John Klen Malificiar, SSP as presider and homilist (see the full homily text below) during which  first class relics of Blessed  James Alberione and Blessed Timothy Giaccardo were exposed through a new reliquaries, the launching of the formands’ contest: Sounds and Audio-Visual Presentations (AVPs) to Celebrate the Centenary of the Pauline Charism (1914-2014) and the “fun, fun, fun” moments of musical numbers, group games and giving of gifts and prizes that followed after the table fellowship. The Sisters of Jesus the Good Shepherd (SJBP) were the gracious hosts of the event.

(The following is the homily delivered by Fr. John Klen Malicificiar, SSP during the Founder’s Day and Solemnity of Christ the King)

The Richness of the Pauline Family

I could still remember my impression about the Society of St. Paul. My high school seatmate's words would simplify it this way, "Diyan ka nalang, kay daw manggaranon. May swimming pool sila." (Choose this congregation because they seemed to be rich. Look, they have their own swimming pool!) My seatmate knew that I wanted to enter the seminary but unsure yet of what congregation to choose. We were looking then at a brochure of The Society of St. Paul. It had the most beautiful lay out among other brochures of religious congregations we received.  Both of us focused our attention on a photo of seminarians enjoying in the swimming pool. This easily made us thought that the congregation was materially wealthy.

Let us make a super fast forward to six months after my priestly ordination. Honestly, today’s occasion has convinced me that my friend was correct, in some sense. Looking at you, ( and not just on Fr. Mario and Fr. Arman) I can say that the Society of St. Paul and the Pauline family are truly rich. Obviously, it is not so much on material things, but of persons and of spiritual graces. Let me try to elaborate this wealth we possess.

First, we have richness of Christ. Jesus, for Blessed James Alberione, is the source of everything we have had. "In his goodness, God in Jesus Christ, has bestowed overflowing riches of grace on the Pauline Family." (AD 4) When I was still studying in LST, during our break in our Grace subject, I had a chance to converse with my two Jesuit African classmates. There was a moment, in the course of our conversation, when they expressed interest on Pauline congregations. After they knew 1914 was the year of our foundation, one of them said, "You were only founded in the 20th century, but man, you already contributed a lot to the church!"

Dear brothers and sisters, as a family, today, we express our heartfelt gratitude to Jesus, our true wealth.  For almost a century, Our Lord's providence continues to provide us with manifold wisdom. Every inspiration comes from the tabernacle, hence, our apostolate remains relevant through time. At the same time, Jesus Master constantly showers us with enlightenment. He is the source of the flowing water which the Pauline family utilizes to irrigate the earth's vast and fertile lands for almost a century already. 

Furthermore, Jesus, the Good Shepherd, never gets tired of seeking and taking good care of us, His sheepfold. For a century, Our Lord's protection remains to be one of our best assets. He never fails to look and to protect the members of the Pauline family especially during times of war, socio-economic uncertainties, political upheavals, and terrible disasters, like the Bohol earthquake and supertyphoon ‘Yolanda’. In this regard, we are grateful to Jesus Master Shepherd because all nuns of the Daughters of St. Paul assigned in Tacloban are safe in our midst.

Second, we have richness of charism. Blessed James Alberione wanted the Pauline Family to have one common goal: to give Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life to the world. This is the main apostolate of every Pauline. If we want our presence and apostolate as a family to remain relevant in this complex society, let us be aware and be convinced of this specific mission.

Today, we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King.  Jesus in the Gospel, while being crucified, forgives the Good Thief. Jesus, even in the most extreme situation, allows God's mercy to be felt. We reflect on this beautiful scene on the cross. As Paulines, Jesus Our Master challenges us to make every circumstance, even those we least expect, an opportunity to make Him known.  If we only live this fundamental truth of our charism, every task remains a great responsibility. Last night, Bro. Vargas recalled to me a story about Bro. Andrea Borello. When this brother got sick and deemed no longer fit to operate the cartiera or the machine that produces paper, Don Timothy Giaccardo assigned him to take charge of the repair of the shoes of the members. Bro. Borello wholeheartedly accepted this responsibility. He never felt humiliated and degraded of this new assignment. It was because for him, a good repair means another opportunity for Jesus to be known.

In the same way, if we work with the intention only to give Jesus, we will never feel humiliated and degraded, even in doing various domestic responsibilities. This mentality, in effect, gives us enthusiasm to do better for every new assignment. Mary, the Queen of the Apostles serves as our model. Even in silence, she wholeheartedly gives Jesus.  Likewise, we are St. Paul alive today. Our Father's holiness and zeal should inspire us in "reproducing" Jesus. Therefore, we are effective Paulines once we are certain that in our work, "God is everything and we are nothing." In the pulpit, in our publications, liturgical apostolate and pastoral ministry our intelligence and talents merely reflect that of Jesus'. Similarly, in our various dealings with people, our skills and abilities only magnify that of Our Master's.

Third, we have richness in communion. This wealth now pertains to us members of the Pauline family, including those who are already in heaven. We are the human resource and Congregavit nos in unum Christi amor. (The love of Christ has brought us all together) (AD 33). Blessed James Alberione knew that each congregation is different and autonomous.  On the other hand, among us, there existed a kinship bond primarily because we were born from the Tabernacle (AD 34).  In the Pauline Family, a deep-rooted bond of charity, thicker and stronger than blood relations, holds us firmly united. On our own we are unique, "but there is an exchange of prayers and help in many ways.... a sharing of joys and sorrows, and of the eternal reward." (AD 35)

Today, we nurture the richness of this communion. Despite our uniqueness and individual differences, we reach out and make use of the gift of communication so that we enjoy each other's company, even with a very limited time. We develop a culture of a communicating community in order to be more efficient and effective in a complex society. As a family, communicating among ourselves to foster clarity, harmony and understanding prepare us best for the future. We need to unite; "if the enemy finds us alone he will defeat us one by one."(AD 17).

I hope that I convinced you enough about the vast richness of our family. My youthful energy and idealism nonetheless urge me to be critical with these current spiritual assets. We are about to celebrate our centennial year, having accumulated this spiritual wealth, how are we going to strain forward?  How do we utilize the richness of Primo Maestro’s legacy to reap a bountiful harvest for another century? How will the Pauline family uniquely and effectively bring Jesus to a ‘selfie’ generation?

In 1923, nine years after the Pauline family was born, Fr. James Alberione had to deal with difficult and fearful situations which threatened the foundation of the Institute. Many seminarians and nuns went out. Primo Maestro had to face lawsuits because of his debts. There were death threatsagainst him coming from militantleftists. He was diagnosed with tuberculosis. Fr. Alberione, on the other hand, had calmly transformed these situations to become opportunities for Jesus to be known. Our Lord didn't fail our blessed founder. Jesus assured Alberione through a dream, "Do not be afraid, I am with you. From here I want to enlighten. Be sorry for your sins." (AD 152)

Mga kapatid, how are we going to strain forward? We reflect on the story of this dream. It contains the hidden treasure which provides us with manifold wisdom to sustain the Pauline family' mission for another century. Amen.

Photo credits: Sr. Reajoy San Luis, FSP

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