Fr. James Alberione, SSP, STD
On December 20, 2002, Pope John Paul II promulgated the decree for the beatification of Fr. James Alberione. His beatification will take place on April 27, 2002.
"Here he is, humble, silent, tireless,
contained in his thoughts, which flows from prayer to work, always ready to read the signs of the times.
Our Father Alberione has given the Church new instruments to express herself, new means to give vigor and new breadth to its apostolic mission..
May the Pope, in the name of the whole Church, express its gratitude."
(Paul VI, June 28, 1969)
On December 31, 1900, during a special night of prayer before the Eucharist, the young seminarian James Alberione felt himself called to serve God and the people of the new century.
Following his ordination to the priesthood, his call gradually became clearer, and a group of young boys under his direction began, publishing the Gazzette d'Alba, to use the press to spread the gospel.
Thus in 1914 was born the Society of St. Paul. A year later, he founded a similar group for women, the Daughters of St. Paul. His ideal, like that of St. Paul, was universal--all the means of modern communications were to be used so that all people would hear the gospel. For this extraordinary mission, new apostles were needed, who could dedicate themselves entirely to this service.
By the time of his death in 1971, Fr. James Alberione had founded five religious congregations, four lay institutes and the Union of Pauline Cooperators who together make up the Pauline Family.
A Brief Biography
Born April 4, 1884 and died in 1971. These dates define the parameters of James Alberione's early life.
If he were to write a resume for a job application today it would read as follows: Health: Frail from birth. Education: Grade School. Cherasco, Italy 1890 - 1896. Minor Seminary at Bra 1896 - 1900. No diploma, expelled. Major Seminary at Alba 1900 - 1907. St. Thomas University, Genoa, Doctorate in Theology 1908. Previous Positions: Ordained a Catholic priest for Alba, Italy 1907. Spiritual director and seminary professor 1908 - 1920. Established printing school for boys, 1914. Founded the Society of St. Paul to work in media, 1914. Founded the Daughters of St. Paul to work in media, 1915. Founded Pious Disciples of the Divine Master, for the liturgical life of the Church and service to priests, 1924. Founded Sisters of the Good Shepherd to work in parishes, 1938. Founded Sisters of the Queen of the Apostles, to work for vocations to all Church ministries, 1957. Founded the Secular Institute of St. Gabriel, for consecrated laymen living in the world, 1958. Founded the Annunciationist Institute, for consecrated laywomen living in the world, 1958. Founded the Holy Family Institute for consecrated married people, 1960. Founded the Institute of Jesus the Priest, for the secular clergy, whereby their priestly service would be enhanced by Pauline Spirituality and would collaborate in media efforts, 1959. Current number of Paulines around the world 9000. Established major book and magazine publications in Italy, including Familglia Cristiana, largest Catholic magazine in the world. Sent priests, brothers and sisters to over 30 countries. Encouraged the growth and development of religious radio and movies. Current status: Servant of God
James Alberione: his mission Fr. Alberione came from a devout farming family in Northern Italy. From an early age he desired to become a priest and this desire was encouraged and supported by his family. He had a crisis at the minor seminary that led to his expulsion, but providentially he was accepted into the seminary at Alba and eventually his desire to be a priest became a reality.
On the night between the centuries, the evening of December 31, 1900 and the morning of January 1, 1901 all of the seminarians gathered in the cathedral of Alba to pray for the new century as Pope Leo XIII had urged the universal Church to do. James Alberione spent at least four hours in intense prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. He was the last of his companions to leave the cathedral.
He had entered the cathedral a mere boy of 17 but left it a man with a mission. He received a light from the tabernacle that gave him a mission to serve humanity in a special way in the twentieth century.
Everyone faces certain defining moments that determine his or her destiny. Such moments shape the quality and value of a person's very existence. The night between the centuries was "the" defining moment in James Alberione's life. He was determined to serve humanity in ever new and creative ways so that the new century would be filled with the love of Christ.
Though he was studying for the diocesan priesthood he understood that in some way his mission would transcend the boundaries of the diocese of Alba and would reach out to the entire world. On that night, the breadth, the depth and the scope of his priesthood began to come into focus. The direction of his life was determined. He would both serve and lead. His vision came from the tabernacle and his strength too would always come from the Eucharist.
Aware of his physical frailty and his limited energies he understood that his fate was in the hands of God and his mission would require the help of others who were willing to follow the path of service. Perhaps you are approaching a defining moment in your own life that will determine how you serve God and humanity in the twenty-first century.
James Alberione: his ministry For nineteen centuries, preaching from the pulpit and teaching in the classroom had been Christianity's tried and true method of keeping the faith alive and spreading it to others. Faced with the industrial revolution and shocking rapid changes in European and world culture, Fr. Alberione believed that the Church had to use technology to respond to the evil that was being spread through the newspapers and the press of the nineteenth century.
At first he felt that he could draw co-workers purely from the laity but under the influence of the Spirit and the guidance of enlightened members of the Church he founded an astounding number of religious congregations and secular institutes.
The ministry of all the congregations and secular institutes he founded is to communicate Christ. The ministry of the Society and the Daughters of St. Paul focuses on doing this through books, magazines, television and the new computer technologies. His charism was to embrace all the means that technology and science could produce and harness them for the kingdom of God.
Paulines involved in this ministry have been reaching millions of people around the world on every continent. The truth of the Divine Master is being told and it is setting the world free.
Fr. Alberione realized that the pulpits of the Pauline Family would reach beyond the churches and schools and touch the countless people who would never think of entering a church or seeking out a priest or religious for advice. The Pauline ministry reaches into homes, automobiles, computers and market places of the world, inviting people to know Jesus, the way, the truth and the life.
Fr. Alberione wanted the members of his congregations to reach out to people of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries with the same zeal, flexibility and intelligence with which St. Paul did in the first century. In fact, Fr. Alberione always insisted that it was St. Paul who should be considered the true founder of the Pauline Family.
AT the end of this, there are links to
Ø Brief chronology of the events in the life of the Founder
Chronology of the Life of James Alberione
1884, 4 April - Birth of Giacomo Alberione in San Lorenzo di Fossano (Cuneo).
1890-1891 - Attends first elementary in Cherasco.
1896, 25 October - Enters the Seminary in Bra.
1900, April - Asked to leave the Seminary in Bra.
1900, October - Enters the Seminary in Alba.
1900, 31 December - 1 January 1901 - While participating at the nightly adoration, he feels called to do something for the Lord and the people of the new century.
1907, 29 June - Ordained priest in Alba.
1908 - For a few months he fulfills parish duties in Narzole.
1908, 1 October - Reenters the Seminary and is appointed Spiritual Director to the youth and the altar servers.
1913, September - Assumes the direction of the weekly Gazzetta d'Alba.
1914, 20 August - Founding of the Society of St. Paul.
1915, 15 June - Founding of the Daughters of St. Paul.
1921, 5 October - Constitutions, with the taking of vows (privately) of some of members of the Society of St. Paul.
1921, 23 November - Alberione asks Bishop Giuseppe Francesco Re, then bishop of Alba, to erect the Society of Saint Paul as a diocesan congregation.
1924, 10 February - Founding of the Pious Disciples of the Divine Master.
1936, August - Beginning, in Rome, of the Sisters of Jesus the Good Shepherd.
1938, 7 October - At Genzano (Rome) official birth of the Sisters of Jesus the Good Shepherd.
1947, 3 April - The Pious Disciples of the Divine Master becomes a congregation of Canonical Right.
1957, 4 April - Beginning of the first General Chapter, during which Fr. Alberione is confirmed as Superior General.
1959, 8 September - At Castelgandolfo (Rome), birth of the Sisters of Mary, Queen of Apostles.
1960, 8 April - The Holy Congregation for Religious gives approval for the "Associazione Paolina" made of three associated institutes: Institute of Jesus the Priest, Institute of St. Gabriel the Archangel and the Institute of Mary Most Holy of the Annunciation.
1965, 5 August - The Second General Chapter of the Society of St. Paul proclaims Fr. Alberione Superior General Emeritus, and elects Fr. Luigi Damaso Zanoni as the new Superior General of the Society.
1971, 26 November - At 18:26, Fr. Alberione dies in Rome, in the Generalate House, after receiving the visit of Paul VI.
1981, 4 May - The Nihil Obstat is granted to the pursuit of his beatification.
1996, 25 June - The Decree of Venerability is signed, establishing the heroism of his virtues.
(Excerpted from Society of St. Paul, Italy.)
Abundantes Divitiae-Alberione's personal testimony of the early years of foundation.
Those who influenced Alberione's thought: Canon Chiesa, Henry Swoboda, Cornelius Krieg Hergenrother, Ignatius of Loyola, Peter Julian Eymard, Pius X, Leo XIII.
Ø Decree declaring him Blessed
Pope John Paul II promulgated the Decree for the beatification for Fr. James Alberione on December 20, 2002, only thirty-one years after his death. Beatification is the Church’s official recognition of the holiness of the founder, as well as the Church’s confirmation that the way of life and mission that he set forth for the many congregations which he founded is a path to holiness.
In fact, a little over a year previous, Pope John Paul II had told the Daughters of St. Paul gathered for their general chapter in Rome, “Don Alberione, seeing clearly the urgency implied in your mission, imagined you as ‘Apostles who burn with love for God in their deep spiritual life’; he wanted you to be sisters always ‘on the way,’ ‘bearers of Christ and living, active members of the Church.’ Through the witness of his life, he has left you a spiritual heritage that can be summed up in these words of his: ‘You are founded on the Host. Always call yourselves Pauline: Jesus drew Paul, Paul grafted onto Christ produced the fruits of Christ...’ (September 13, 2001).
In 1953, when Fr. Alberione was insistently asked to write something about his life as a man and a founder, he replied: "This seems important to me, and I would like this to be known: namely, that after my death, no one should speak any further of me, but only of St. Paul. He is the founder, the model, the father, the one who inspires us."
This desire was superceded by a more authoritative voice, that of the Church, who declares that this humble, somewhat feeble man, should be acknowledged for his heroic virtues. For it is the Lord who "has lifted up the lowly" in the founder of the Pauline Family.
On June 28, 1969, Fr. Alberione was received in a private audience by Pope Paul VI who awarded him the medallion Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice. The Pope asked himself, "How has the Pious Society of St. Paul been able to affirm itself in such a conspicuous way in so short a period of time?" He himself gave the answer: "Two factors, it appears to us, have come together to obtain this magnificent result, which others do not promise: two wills, that of a man and that of God, that of a humble and fruitful servant and that of a paternal and provident Lord who has certainly blessed in a singular way the great undertaking of the Pious Society of St. Paul. And then, you understand, we owe to your Founder here present, to the dear and venerated Father James Alberione, the construction of your monumental Institute. In the name of Christ, we thank him and we bless him.
"Behold him here: humble, silent, untiring, always recollected in his thoughts, which run from prayer to work according to the traditional formula: Ora et labora (work and pray). Always intent on scrutinizing the 'signs of the times,' that is, the most inspired means for reaching souls, our Father Alberione has given to the Church new instruments for expressing itself, new means to give vigor and amplitude to its apostolate, new capacities and a new awareness of the validity and of the possibilities of its mission in the modern world and with modern means.
"Dear Father Alberione, allow the Pope to take pleasure in this long, faithful, and untiring labor and of the fruits produced by it for the glory of God and the good of the Church; allow your children to rejoice with me and permit them today to express, as perhaps never before, their affection and their promise to persevere in the work undertaken.
"As a sign of our recognition, before all the Pauline Family and as a stimulus to as many as dedicate themselves to the cause of the Catholic apostolate by means of the generous promotion and right use of the means of social communication, we wish today to confer on the venerated and venerable Fr. James Alberione our medallion Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice."
Ø The night between the two centuries
The night between 2 centuries...
In the third person, Fr. Alberione recounts the story. Though his words were written over fifty years later, the event took place when he was a sixteen-year-old seminarian. The night he refers to is that between December 31, 1900 and January 1, 1901:
The night which divided the last century from the present one was decisive for the specific mission and particular spirit in which the future Apostolate was to be born and to live. After the solemn midnight Mass in the cathedral (of Alba), the Blessed Sacrament was exposed for adoration. The seminarians in philosophy and theology were free to remain as long as they wanted.
Shortly before that, there had been a congress (the first he had attended), and he had understood well the calm but profound and convincing talk given by Toniolo. He had read Pope Leo XIII's invitation to pray for the century that was about to begin. Both had stressed the needs of the Church, the new means of evil, the duty to oppose the press with the press, organization with organization, to make the Gospel penetrate the masses, social questions.
A special light came from the Host, a greater understanding of the invitation extended by Jesus: "Come to me, all of you." He seemed to comprehend the heart of the great Pope, the invitations of the Church, the true mission of the priest. Toniolo's words regarding the duty of modern apostles, using the means abused by adversaries, appeared clear to him. He felt deeply obligated to prepare himself to do something for God and for the people of the new century with whom he would live.
He was quite aware of his own nothingness and at the same time he heard: "I am with you always; yes to the end of time" in the Eucharist. He felt that in the Eucharistic Jesus one could find light, nourishment, comfort, victory over evil. As he thought about the future, it seemed to him that in the new century generous souls would feel what he felt; and that when organized, they would achieve what Toniolo strongly urged: "Unite! If the enemy finds us alone, he will overcome us one by one!"
His prayer lasted four hours after the solemn high Mass. He prayed that the new century might be born in the Eucharistic Christ; that new apostles would reform laws, schools, literature, the press, customs; that the Church would initiate a new missionary thrust; that society would accept the great teachings of Pope Leo XIII's encyclicals explained by Canon Chiesa, especially with regard to social questions and the liberty of the Church.
The Eucharist, the Gospel, the Pope, the new century, the new means, the teaching of Count Paganuzzi regarding the Church, the need for a new band of apostles--these were all so deeply impressed on his mind and heart that from then on they constantly dominated his thoughts, prayers, interior work, and aspirations. He felt obligated to serve the Church, the people of the new century, and to work together with others. --AD 13-17, 19-20
Influential for the young Alberione:
Tametsi Futura Prospicientibus, On Jesus Christ Our Redeemer, encyclical of Leo XIII, Nov. 1, 1900.
Joseph Toniolo (1845-1918) a great teacher of Catholic social thought and the first national president of the Unione Populare, the association of Catholics formed after Pius X dissolved the Congresses and Catholic Committees.
Count John Baptiste Paganuzzi, (1841-1923) lawyer and president of the Congresses
(Special thanks to Sr. Karen Marie Anderson, FSP for providing historical information
Ø Thoughts of James Alberione
Jesus knows the Father perfectly, because he is the wisdom of the Father, eternal wisdom, infinite, so perfect and perfectly equal as to express the Father fully. Jesus is the Wisdom and he is the Word through whom the Father expresses himself.
Our word serves only to manifest our thoughts.Instead, the Son is the unique Word of the Father and, with this Word only, the Father expresses himself in living and real image, perfectly equal to himself. Jesus is the Eternal Word.always present to the Father!
Now this Word was sent upon the earth to reveal the Father. He became human to adapt the revelation of the Father to our capability and he spoke human words and performed human actions. His word and his work are always the revelation of the Father: The Father is in me and I am in the Father" (Jn. 10:38). (Haec meditare III, 1947, Jan.)
Prayer is a Preparation for Heaven
God grants to the soul a great grace when He gives it the gift of prayer. To have this gift means possessing the power to use, according to one's desires, the key to eternal treasures.
Prayer is omnipotent. It obtains all and in particular it opens the gates of heaven."One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after-- that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life" (Ps. 27:4).
One who prays prepares for the eternal prayer of heaven. Therefore, let us consider: prayer is a preparation for eternal happiness.
What is our end? To know, love, and serve God here on earth, and to enjoy Him eternally in heaven. "You made us for yourself, Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You" (St. Augustine). The end we have upon this earth is intermediate, ordered to our final end the enjoyment of God in paradise. We are created for heaven, and this thought consoles us: "I was glad when they said to me, 'Let us go to the house of the Lord! "' (Ps. 122: 1).
1) We will see God face to face. We will contemplate Him in all His beauty and immensity. "Now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood" (2 Cor 13:12).
2) We will possess God, our eternal treasure, author of every good thing: "Fear not ... I am your shield; your reward shall be very great" (Gn. 15: 1). "The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot" (Ps. 16:5).
3) We will enjoy God. He will be our complete Joy and will make us partakers of His own happiness: "Enter into the joy of your master" (Mt. 25:2 1). "They shall be his people, and God himself will be with them--he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away...
In God, our mind, will and heart will have complete satisfaction! St. Augustine writes, "God will satisfy every desire of ours because we will see Him forever, we will love Him without tiring, we will praise Him without effort ... There we will desire and will see, we will see and will love, we will love and we will praise."
The one who prays does not let himself be swayed by false theories, passing wealth, worldly satisfactions, but fixes his mind, will, and heart on high; he seeks God and prepares himself to enjoy Him in paradise. Paradise is the eternal, joyful prayer.
(An excerpt from the book, "Lord, Teach Us to Pray" by Fr. James Alberione, SSP Founder)
Ø The Woman who made it happen (this could be part of the main page on Founders)
Mother Thecla Merlo
Teresa Merlo met Fr. Alberione June 27, 1915, and agreed to collaborate with him in giving life to his apostolic vision. From that time on, with tremendous faith and untiring trust, Teresa, who took the religious name of Thecla, assisted him not only in the foundation and formation of the Daughters of St. Paul, but with the other Congregations of the Pauline Family and his many other apostolic works.
Her example and courage, her intelligent and wise collaboration with Alberione and her loving guidance of the sisters in her care won for her the respect and love of all who knew her. She died on February 5, 1964, and the Church proclaimed her "Venerable" on January 22, 1991.
Spiritual Journey in the Footsteps of the Master
Mother Thecla was one of the first followers of Fr. Alberione and she played a fundamental role in his foundation project. M. Thecla was one of the first nine young women to make their religious profession of vows in 1922 in the hands of Alberione as Founder of the Institute. On that occasion, the members of the group were told that their new religious names would be preceded by the title "Maestra" in honor of the Divine Master.
Fr. Alberione appointed Maestra Thecla Superior General of the feminine branch of his "house" and, when the foundation received diocesan approval in 1929, she was given the title "Prima Maestra" (first teacher). We are sure that after her return to Alba from Susa in March 1923, M. Thecla fully absorbed the teachings of Fr. Alberione, which permeated the very air of the Motherhouse. Like all the other sisters, she was filled with great enthusiasm to spread the Gospel, lived with great intensity the Eucharistic life of the House, and was infected with the zeal for holiness that filled the atmosphere. She also profoundly assimilated the teachings of our Founder, taking down precise notes of his meditations and then seeing to it that these notes were duplicated (then later printed) and distributed to all her sisters and occasionally to the entire Pauline Family.
In those difficult years of the 1920's, Maestra Thecla's personal notes reveal that she carried out her office with a deep feeling of inadequacy. She was completely blind as to what the Lord was bringing about regarding the future development of the Institute. In this context, her notes on Fr. Alberione's meditation of Nov. 27, 1927 take on almost symbolic value: "We have finished the first part of our instructions...Now we will see what path we must follow to attain holiness. We need a model to imitate and this model is Jesus Way, Truth and Life, our Divine Master. He will teach us; he will trace out the way for us. Indeed, he himself is our Way."
For Maestra Thecla, Jesus Master was truly the "Way," serving as guide for everything: he was the obedient Son who always did the will of his Father; he was the Way to go to the Father. For her, following the Master meant listening to him, imitating him. It meant becoming children.
"Our Master dwells in the Tabernacle. From there he preaches to our mind and heart by means of the Gospel...We must always live united to Jesus. The Holy Trinity dwells in those persons who are united to Jesus."
These notes of 1927 already contain the nucleus of Maestra Thecla's spiritual journey. Simplifying things a little, we can pinpoint in them a number of elements that form part of the Pauline method of life:
a) Listening (Truth). This consists in a simple and life-oriented meditation of the Word of God. For Prima Maestra, the Gospel was the food given her by Jesus Master. During the years of extreme poverty, she would say to her sisters with great faith: "Each day, our Father will send us the food and the clothing we need....We will be nourished by the immaculate flesh of our Savior; we will be nourished with his Gospel" (January 1932). She was absolutely convinced of the truth of what was "written there" (in the Gospel), because Jesus Master had said those things (cf. VPC 140).
She meditated on the entire New Testament, but the following portions of it played a particularly significant role in her faith journey:
--the Infancy narratives: "In spirit, let us live in the house of Nazareth (2/11/63);" "Let us live with Jesus, Mary and Joseph in the little house of Nazareth" (February 1963);
--the Sermon on the Mount, that is, chapters 5-7 of the Gospel of Matthew. M. Thecla assumed the attitudes of the Gospel without ever separating them from the person of Christ. Poverty, humility, meekness, simplicity, sincerity, forgiveness, frankness, trust and fortitude became her way of getting to know and live the attitudes of Jesus Master;
--the Passion narratives;
--the Letters of St. Paul.
b) Imitation (Way). Mother Thecla's meditations, even though couched in traditional languagae, reveal a genuine attention to the person of Jesus Master. From listening, she moves to ongoing contemplation of Jesus Master, encouraged by teh biblical phrase: "Learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart" (Mt. 11:29). Her imitation of Jesus extended to his entire life; she desired to reproduce all the mysteries of his life in her own. Her constant resolution was: "To imitate Jesus, the Divine Master. To always ask myself: What would Jesus do? I want to imitate the Divine Master and become a saint? (January 1932). "Jesus Christ is my model. I must fix my gaze on him so as to see how he prayed, spoke, acted, dealt with people; how he willingly suffered for us, etc. A religious must seek to copy her model: Jesus, the Divine Master" (Spiritual Exercises 1934).
c) To live the Master (Life). Mother Thecla moved from imitation of the Divine Master to a deeper level of the spiritual life: that of sharing the Master's life, immersing herself in him, conforming herself to him. We know that the culmination of this stage of the spiritual life is immersion in the Paschal Mystery, by means of which the person unites herself to the Master's offering of his life.
Thecla offered her life in a particular way for the Daughters entrusted to her care, but also for the Church, Vatican Council II, the Founder, Fr. Alberione, and the entire Pauline Family.
We have already mentioned that Mother Thecla was guided to rest in Jesus Master, who was at work in her soul. Her spiritual notes of 1963 reveal her total adherence to the Master with new and significant nuances:
"To live in union with God like St. Paul: 'For me, to live is Christ.' To do everything for him, with him and in him" (June 3, 1963).
"To remain united to Jesus. May my thoughts be his; may his will be my will. To love God the Father above every other thing through Jesus and with Jesus. To make sacrifices for souls" (1/22/63).
"To imitate St. Paul in his union with the Divine Master: 'Who will separate me from the love of Christ?'" (1/24/63).
"To remain united to the Divine Master..." (1/30/63).
In addition, Prima Maestra became always more sensitive to the relationship between Jesus Master and his Father. She strongly desired to share in that relationship--above all in the mystery of Jesus' obedience to the Father; "Jesus always did the will of his Father. I too always want to do the will of the Father. I want to see his will in everything" (Feb. 1963).
"O Jesus, I want to practice the same obedience you did. It is Jesus who lives in me, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit.[...] I want to remain united to the Divine Master" (Feb. 1963).
Mother Thecla's intimacy with the Divine Master made her a woman sensitive to the needs of humanity; a woman totally focused on the Pauline mission. The first time she visited India, she felt her heart tighten (cf. VPC 104) at the sight of the immense crowd of humanity that did not know Jesus.
That "tightening of the heart" reminds us of Jesus' compassion for the crowds that surrounded him. In contemplating the Master, who walked among the people "doing good," Mother Thecla summarized her sense of mission in three expressions: "to do good," to help souls," and "to contribute to their salvation." This was her way of concretizing the life of Jesus Master in her own life.
(Excerpted from Jesus Master in the Teaching of Fr. Alberione, by Caterina A. Martini, FSP
Ø Blessed Timothy Giaccardo
Blessed Timothy Giaccardo
Timothy Giaccardo was born in Narzole, Italy, on June 13, 1896. Soon after his confirmation in 1908 he met Fr. James Alberione. Trusting in the spiritual direction he received from Alberione, he entered the seminary of Alba and then, in 1917, joined the newly-formed Society of St. Paul, soon becoming the first to be ordained in the new congregation.
His love for the Blessed Mother; his prayerfulness, gentleness, and humility; his strong self-discipline, great faith, and ability to overcome very difficult circumstances enabled him to collaborate with Fr. Alberione so effectively that Alberione was moved to call him "most faithful of the faithful."
With untiring perseverance, Father Giaccardo worked for the ecclesial approval of the Pious Disciples of the Divine Master, a complicated and difficult task for which he offered his life. Shortly after the approval was granted, Fr. Timothy entered into eternal life. Declared blessed by John Paul II, Father Giaccardo's Feast Day is October 22.
"In the face of a world in which the faith encounters difficulties and insidious ideas of every kind which threaten the survival of many souls, Timothy Giaccardo, the first disciple of Father Alberione, interpreted fidelity to his own priestly vocation as proclaiming the Gospel through the press, thereby having an even broader and deeper effect on his brothers and sisters. Thus he proposed to spread the Gospel and the Church's teaching through the modern means of social communication, which he saw as the principal and typical apostolate of the modern world. All this was to be in absolute fidelity to the Church's magisterium, in a spiritual life nourished daily through Eucharistic adoration and devotion to Our Lady, in the persuasive meekness which made him so beloved by the entire Pauline Family. Today, seventy-five years after its foundation, this Family finds in him a model in continuing the mission entrusted to it by Father Alberione." (From the homily of John Paul II during the Beatification Mass)
A Brief Biography
Timothy Giaccardo was born in Narzole, Italy (in the diocese of Alba), on Saturday, June 13, 1896. On that same day he was baptized and given the names Joseph, Dominic, Vincent, and Anthony. (Timothy was the name he took as a Pauline.)
His whole life was Marian in the full sense of the word. All the decisive signs of his spiritual life--in infancy, in youth, in adulthood--revealed the work of Mary in a manner so effective and evident that Father Giaccardo himself had to recognize that everything had been "begun, nourished and protected" by her.
His parents, farmers, humble but fervent in faith, formed in their son a strong spirit of prayer. "Passing in front of the church of St. Bernard in Narzole, where Our Lady of the Rosary was venerated, [Joseph's mother] never neglected to stop and pray, with the little one in her arms. Gradually she taught him to recite the Hail Mary in front of the image of Mary…"
As he grew older, Joseph had a statue of the Blessed Virgin. There he would place flowers and pray to Mary as his mother had taught him. Along with growth in devotion to Mary, Joseph grew in love for the Eucharist, for the catechism, and for the sacred celebrations of the parish, in which he participated with joy.
Joseph was confirmed on September 12, 1908. Shortly after, having met Father James Alberione (then the assistant pastor of the Narzole parish), Joseph entrusted himself completely to Father Alberione's direction. He entered the seminary of Alba, where he was an example to all in prayer, discipline, study and meekness.
But he was a young man of great interior strength, as well. In 1917, believing that God was calling him to join the newly-formed community of the Society of St. Paul, Giaccardo asked the bishop's permission to enter. He was informed that leaving the seminary to join an as-yet-unapproved society might result in his not being ordained. Accepting that risk, Giaccardo joined the new community. Two years later, he was ordained: the first priest of the new Pauline Family. Father Timothy made his first religious profession of vows in 1920.
From the beginning, Giaccardo stood out as a man of exceptional gifts and aptitutes. To the handful of young men who had also abandoned everything to follow Jesus Master, Blessed Timothy was not only a teacher of theology and religious studies; in a sense, he was their model in spirituality and in the practice of virtue. The name which they affectionately gave him--"Signor Maestro" (Teacher)--remained his for the rest of his life.
In 1926, the Founder entrusted Father Giaccardo with the task of establishing the first house of the Society of St. Paul in Rome. There were serious difficulties to be faced, but these he overcame with a spirit of faith and perseverance that favorably impressed those who knew him. "He gave the clear-cut impression of a man of God: humble, simple, recollected, mortified and very charitable. His profound and continuous spirit of prayer was edifying, and he often united, very well and very politely, his evidently intense interior life with an act of love and delicate religious courtesy" (Cardinal Larraono).
During this time, Giaccardo accepted a number of diverse roles and responsibilities: superior, teacher, confessor, spiritual director and administrator. At the same time, he was also editor of a weekly periodical, "The Voice of Rome," manager of the pressroom work, and vocation director!
Having carried out his demanding assignment in Rome, Blessed Timothy was recalled to Alba to be in charge of the direction of the Motherhouse. It was a delicate office, which included the interpretation of the directives of the Founder and of the Constitutions, and the formation and guidance of all the future members of the Society, as well as the members of the other Congregations of the Pauline Family.
Though somewhat reserved and introverted by nature, Blessed Timothy calmly accepted tasks that might have seemed overwhelming, beyond this "human" capabilities.
Father Giaccardo's prayer was vital, feeding his spirit with an unquenchable enthusiasm for cooperating with the will of God--especially as it was expressed in the dispositions of the Founder. In all matters, he was Father Alberione's most trusted collaborator. The Founder himself attributed to Father Timothy the distinct title, "most faithful of the faithful."
"There is no one," said Father Alberione, "who shares my sentiments and my soul as well as he does."
In 1946 Father Giaccardo was recalled to Rome to be appointed Provincial Superior for the Society of St. Paul in Italy, as well as Vicar General of the congregation.
This was certainly the case regarding the establishment of the Sister Disciples of the Divine Master. In 1928, the Founder had set apart several Daughters of St. Paul to form the nucleus of a new community, one dedicated solely to contemplation and the liturgical apostolate. Both Father Alberione and Father Giaccardo realized the importance of contemplative prayer to support and enliven the various works of the Congregations that make up the Pauline Family. However, the Holy See advised that no separation from the Daughters of St. Paul would be allowed. The Founder ordered his vicar general, Father Timothy, to assume communication with the Holy See. Father Giaccardo's "mission" called for a good deal of sensitivity and tact, as he delicately set about the task of "helping" the Holy See change its mind. He was successful, and approbation of the community came on January 12, 1948.
Father Giaccardo had made an offering of his life for that intention, and it was evidently received: when he heard the news, he was bedridden with acute leukemia. Nevertheless, Father Giaccardo insisted on celebrating a Mass of thanksgiving with the members of the new Congregation. He collapsed during the Liturgy and died twelve days later. It was the feast day of his patron, St. Timothy, the faithful companion, collaborator and friend of St. Paul.
On May 9, 1985, Pope John Paul II declared Father Timothy Giaccardo "venerable." Four years later, papal confirmation was given of the miracle attributed to his intercession. Sister Maria Luciana Lazzarini, a Sister Disciple of the Divine Master stationed in Japan, had been dying of "bilateral pulmonary tuberculosis." In July, 1954, at the end of a novena made to Father Giaccardo, she was completely and instantaneously cured. Later, the head physician of the sanatorium converted to Catholicism.
As the first beatified member of the Pauline Family, Father Timothy Giaccardo is outstanding also as the first modern-day apostle whose life was consecrated for the explicit purpose of evangelization with the media. His life is witness to the fruitfulness of contemplation joined with action--a call to fullest union with the Master.
"To merit a beautiful paradise, let us give everything to God: the body and its strength, the mind with faith, the will with confidence, and the heart with charity. Each of us should belong totally to God, always, everywhere, in everything--awaiting the reward which will surpass all imagination."
Opening Prayer from the Mass of Blessed Timothy Giaccardo
God our Father,
you sustained the life and apostolic work
of Blessed Timothy, priest,
with your radiant Word
and strength-giving Eucharist.
By the help of his prayers,
may the instruments of social communication
be used rightfully in promoting the good
in the Church and in the world
and help effectively in spreading the Gospel everywhere.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.