Holiness in the Family
Interview With Postulator of Pauline Saints' Causes
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By José Antonio Varela Vidal
ROME, DEC. 6, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The Pauline religious family spans a variety of styles of consecration, each following the charism of Blessed James Alberione.
From among these groups -- five religious congregations, four institutes of consecrated secular life and a lay association -- there are already 12 people on the way to being raised to the altars as canonized saints.
The Pauline Family, suggests Society of St. Paul Father José Antonio Pérez, has become a true laboratory of sanctity.
Father Pérez is the new general postulator for saints' causes for the Society of St. Paul. ZENIT spoke with the priest about his religious family and the holiness of his spiritual father, the man entrusted with this charism for the Church.
ZENIT: With this mandate you assume a task with great responsibilities …
Father Pérez: Yes, I begin with the belief that on my part I will do everything that I can possibly do, while the Lord and those who are the blessed and venerable members of the Pauline Family will do the rest.
ZENIT: Among the Paulines, who is in the process of canonization?
Father Pérez: There are seven actually. Aside from the founder, Blessed James Alberione, there is Blessed Timothy Giaccardo, the first priest and general vicar of the Society of St Paul. The venerable are: the co-founder of the Daughters of St. Paul, Mother Tecla Merlo; Brother Andrea Borello; the young seminarian Maggiorino Vigolungo, who died at age 14; and Canon Francesco Chiesa, the spiritual director and assiduous collaborator of Father Alberione at the start of the foundation, who is because of this considered part of the Pauline Family. Also there is the first Mother of the Pious Disciples of the Divine Master, the Servant of God Sister Scholastica Rivata, who died in 1987.
ZENIT: What are common characteristics among this group of Paulines?
Father Pérez: The founder had a great capacity for spreading the passion with which he lived God's call to the new apostolate, combining a deep interior life overflowing with apostolic activities. Without a doubt, all these people have followed in the footsteps of the founder to live these same ideals.
ZENIT: What are your plans to make them more known?
Father Pérez: It is necessary to cultivate and maintain their reputation of sanctity. We have to distribute far and wide their biographies, disseminate their images and produce more materials with greater frequency. We need to hold meetings in places where they were born and spent their lives, such as Alba or Rome, and encourage frequent pilgrimages to these spots.
ZENIT: The father-general of the Paulines said that the true proof of Father Alberione's sanctity is the holiness of his spiritual children.
Father Pérez: This affirmation is very true. Precisely, the founder himself, when he was still young, said to his children that despite his many other problems, he had only two preoccupations: that he was not good enough and that they were not sufficiently holy.
ZENIT: The Paulines are preparing to celebrate their centenary in 2014.
Father Pérez: Yes, and the coming years will be a preparation to meaningfully celebrate the centenary of the birth of the Pauline Family, which started precisely in 1914 with the Society of St. Paul. No doubt it will be a great event in line with the theme of our last general chapter, which proposed in fact to face the future with creative fidelity, maintaining the spirit of the Pauline charism and adapting it to the present times.
ZENIT: At the beginning of your term, what do you expect from the members of the Pauline Family?
Father Pérez: First of all, much prayer. Whatever we do without the Lord will remain fruitless. Then I ask that they promote knowledge of our "saints," because I am convinced that it is important to make known these witnesses, who are real protagonists of the New Evangelization. Thus people will have a point of reference, true models to confront the challenge the Church is facing in the culture of communication in which we live today.
[Translation provided by the Pauline Family]