Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Things To Do, Places to Go This Fall

Today we welcome Sr. Marie Paul Curley, FSP as our guest blogger. She is dropping in from her own little neck of the net-woods: Windows to the Soul, the lovely Pauline blog she has authored since 2008. Sr. Marie Paul has put together a list of Fall events "to die for", if you are a lay Pauline, a communicator, or both.
There are so many cool upcoming Catholic media events that I wanted to highlight them here for you:

JP2 Inter-Faith Film Festival

The upcoming JP2 Inter-Faith Film Festival, held in Miami, FL, from October 8-17, 2015, is coming up! If you love films and want to support the development of faith-based films, this is a great endeavor to get involved in and spread the word about. I’m delighted to share the news that our very own Media Apostle: The Father James Alberione Story will be screening at the festival this fall! For more information, visit their gofundme site, or their film festival site.  Here you can find a listing of films in the festival this year. Here is a little more about the festival from their website:

The JP2 Inter-Faith Film Festival (formerly the John Paul II International Film Festival) has been a sensation since its 2009 inauguration. Inspired by John Paul II’s letter to artists (read it HERE) and his inter-religious and unifying efforts, the festival has screened over 125 films (156 if you include our upcoming lineup!) that uphold human dignity and explore the undeniable human journey that defines us.

Chicago Premiere of Media Apostle: the James Alberione Story

For those living near Chicago, here’s an announcement about the free premiere screening of my favorite documentary of 2015! (Note that admission is free, but a reservation is needed! RSVP to Sr. Helena Burns. 

Join the Daughters for the Chicago premiere of Media Apostle: The Father James Alberione Story, a film about the priest who loved our media world.

This takes place on Sunday, October 25 11am-2pm at the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State St., Chicago, IL. There will be a reception 2-3pm at Pauline Books and Media, 172 N. Michigan Ave, two blocks from the Gene Siskel Film Center.







The Catholic Writers Guild Annual Writers Retreat

The Catholic Writers’ Guild is offering their retreat for writers this year. Personally, I would love to go to this some year.

This writers' retreat is being held October 25-29 at the St. Francis Retreat and Conference Center, 703 E. Main Street, DeWitt, Michigan 48820.

Check it out if you need wonderful writing fellowship and a writing get-away!




Clay Pots: Finding the Treasure: A weekend retreat for communication arts professionals

And finally, time is winding down for registration for our Communicators Arts Professional Retreat, October 9-11 at St. Thecla's Retreat House in Billerica, MA. If you are interested, make sure you check it out today! (Feel free to email Sr. Marie Paul Curley with questions.)


Marie Paul Curley, FSP,  is an author, screenwriter, and video producer, who daily embraces the challenge of inspiring others through her creative efforts… even when she does not feel inspired.  Her passions include: contemplating the Eucharistic Master, Way, Truth, and Life; the writings of Saint Paul; exploring the connection between faith and art, especially Story; the spirituality of Blessed James Alberione; and imitating Christ the perfect Communicator in her life and in her writing. But above all, she is a Catholic sister, a member of the Daughters of Saint Paul—an amazing group of women who enthusiastically commit their energies to communicating the love of Christ worldwide through every form of media and every aspect of our lives.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

“Time To Say Goodbye”

When Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman sang this English rendition of his song, “Con te partirò” almost twenty years ago, it topped the Billboard Classical Crossover chart for 35 solid week just in the United States, selling almost a million-and-a-half copies. That’s not why I remember it, though. In 2001, I had been studying Italian in Rome for only three months, when a group of American Daughters of St. Paul came on the first FSP pilgrimage in years. Before returning to the States, they sang this song to the community. I bawled.

Now I’m the one saying goodbye. Earlier this month I accepted a transfer to Rome to write and do editorial work in English. If all goes as planned I’ll leave at the end of September, not knowing when I’ll be back, but certain only that Jesus will be waiting for me…and for you…because “Con te partirò”—I’m leaving with you. Or as Mother Thecla used to write, “I carry you in my heart.”

You may remember that a Pauline pilgrimage to Rome and Piedmont, Oct. 19-30, is in the works, spearheaded by Brian Reilly from Staten Island, a seasoned organizer of tours and pilgrimages to the Holy Land, Greece, Turkey, and Italy. I’ll be able to join up with the pilgrims as spiritual and cultural guide, together with another FSP from Rome, Sr. Maria Grazia Gabelli, who will accompany us to Piedmont in the foothills of the Alps. I can vouch that the other 13 of us in the group are in for a Spirit-filled experience with her in the land of our Founder and of other “Paulines of the first hour.” Peter and Paul await us all in Rome, while Sts. Francis and Clare promise to welcome us to Assisi on our way north.

The trip is still on in spite of the fewer than 20 originally required. That’s because Bove Travel, the agent in Brooklyn, is not taking any commission for the work involved, and accommodations for both Sr. Maria Grazia and the chaplain, Fr. Michael Goonan, SSP, are being sponsored by donors. Pray for them all!

Rae edits blog article for Association of Pauline Cooperators
Here at home, this blog will also continue. With the approval of the provincial director of the Pauline Cooperators, Sr. Patricia M. Maresca, Cooperator Rae Stabosz from Delaware has generously agreed to manage it from now on. Christine Dufresne, a Cooperator from Massachusetts, is her collaborator and back-up. Every Wednesday you will continue to receive an insightful and well crafted post by one of 12 bloggers from five branches of the Pauline Family, who have you in mind as they research, pray, and write. The Writers’ Guidelines for the Cooperator blog describes their mission this way:
“The blog is intended to be both formational and informational:
1.    to familiarize Pauline Cooperators with the charism of the Pauline Family—its story, spirituality, and mission—and to serve as a lively, practical, and trustworthy resource for them in living that charism themselves, as they share the Good News with others.
2.    to provide a news forum connected to other Pauline social media services, to inform Cooperators about Pauline events and initiatives, leading them to feel a sense of belonging to this Family and providing them with a means to reach out to other Cooperators.
3.    to invite others to explore a membership in the Association of Pauline Cooperators and so, share in its dedication to personal holiness and its witness to Jesus, Way, Truth, and Life, in the spirit of St. Paul the Apostle.”
Do you notice the emphasis on sharing the articles with others? Evangelizing, in other words? That’s where you come in. As a former administrator, I can tell you that in the weeks when you share the blog on social media, readership really spikes. Even if you just post it on your Facebook timeline either from the blog itself or from the Cooperator Facebook page, a whole new audience is exposed to the thought of Jesus, Paul, the Church’s pastors, and the Pauline Family—all in a way they never were before. Your cut? Apostleship, increase, and in the end: “Those who lead the many to justice will shine like the stars forever” (Daniel 12:3).

So when I sing, “Con te partirò,” I’m thinking not only of your friendship, which I will always treasure, but kinship—in spirit and mission:
“I know you are with me, with me,
Building bridges over land and sea….
With you, I will go.”

Margaret J. Obrovac, FSP, originally from San Francisco, has been a Pauline evangelizer since 1973 and has worked in various phases of the mission of the Daughters of St. Paul. After attending the Pauline Family’s nine-month Charism Course in Rome in 2012-2013, she served on the provincial Cooperator Team in Boston in the area of ongoing formation. This fall, she will begin carrying out English language editorial work in Rome.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

CHRN Evangelizes Without Talking “Religion”

Erasmus, Prince of Humanists, friend of St. Thomas More
What does Christian faith have to say about meteorology?  Does Ghostbusters echo a comedy of humors?  How can Old English poetry lead us to a new perspective on Jesus’ Passion?  The Christian Humanist Radio Network hosts a series of podcasts with a variety of scholars exploring their fields from a Christian perspective.

In 2009, three friends from the English literature graduate school at the University of Georgia launched the “Christian Humanist Podcast,” “a weekly conversation on philosophy, theology, literature, art, and other things that human beings do well.”  With topics ranging from Christmas television specials to Old English poetry to the best elements of Contemporary Christian Music they analyze and enjoy biblical theology, classical literature, and popular culture as both Christians and scholars. 

In 2013, two new shows launched.  Victoria Reynolds Farmer and a rotating set of panelists began “The Christian Feminist Podcast to examine feminist history and gender relations in contemporary culture and the church.  The entire team collaborates on long-form interviews with authors discussing their recent books on “Christian Humanist Profiles.” 

A meteorologist, psychologist, and physicist collaborate to explore faith and the natural sciences on “The Book of Nature” podcast which launched in the fall of 2014.  Historian Chris Gehrz of Bethel College recently finished the first season of “The Pietist Schoolmanwhich explores the character and purposes of Christian higher education, with particular emphasis on colleges rooted in the Pietist theological tradition.  Danny Anderson of Mount Aloysius College has guest hosted on “The Christian Humanist Podcast and plans to launch a cultural criticism program called “The Sectarian Review in September 2015.

As I was finishing Pauline Cooperator formation in 2014, I was thinking about how to participate in some media-related ministry.  I had enjoyed listening to the “Christian Humanist Podcast for some time, and fired off an email asking the hosts if I could somehow participate in their project.  I didn’t think there would be a way for me to contribute, but it didn’t hurt to ask.  They invited me to coordinate their interview program, “Christian Humanist Profiles.  I serve as the main point of contact with publishers and authors in order to request interviews and publicize the interview when they are released.  We have now released forty-eight episodes on the interview show, ranging from the vocation of Christian intellectuals, the core of the Gospel message and the profoundly Catholic vision of JRR Tolkien. 

We also publish written book reviews on our blog when authors are unavailable for recorded interviews. For example, earlier this year Nathan P. Gilmour, Protestant professor, podcaster, and blogger, enthusiastically reviewed the Society of St. Paul’s book by Benedict XVI, I Believe in One God. His opening sentence: “Believe it or not (and if you know me at all, you’ll believe it), I did ask Kristen, our press liaison, to request a podcast interview with the Pope Emeritus.  The response from the publisher, in Kristen’s words, was, ‘You’re kidding, right?’”

At the beginning of the 20th century, Father Alberione received a vision for a new congregation to spread the Gospel through the most effective means of mass media.  In the first century, St. Paul took advantage of the newly created Roman road system which made travel easier than ever before and sent letters to nurture new Christian communities around the world.  In the twentieth century, Father Alberione sought to use technological developments to spread the Gospel through publishing, films, and radio.  The dawning of the Internet age provides possibilities that Father Alberione could never have imagined.  With bargain Internet hosting and $25 microphones, the Christian Humanist Radio Network reaches thousands of listeners spanning the globe.

Dutch statesman and neo-Calvinist theologian Abraham Kuyper famously said, “There is not one square inch of the entire creation about which Jesus Christ does not cry out, ‘This is mine!  This belongs to me!’” In his charismatic history of the Pauline Family, Abundantes divitiae gratiae suae, Fr. Alberione puts it like this: “Imbue all thought and human knowledge with the Gospel. Don’t talk only about religion but talk about everything in a Christian way….in accordance with reason subordinate to faith: [this is what] the Pauline Family must give” (n. 87). As the School of Jesus the Divine Master includes all of creation, the Christian Humanist Radio Network hopes to study every square inch of creation, and by doing so ultimately draw closer to the God who created it all.

Kristen Filipic has been involved with the Pauline family since 2010 and completed the Cooperator Formation program in 2014.  She is a native Midwesterner but has lived in Boston for the last twelve years, where she works as a civil rights attorney.  She serves as a lector and a Bible study leader in her home church.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Basking in Summer's Marian Month

 Ste. Anne de Beaupré in Quebec, Canada
August is a beautiful month for me partly because there are two Marian feast days celebrated. August 15 is the solemnity of the Assumption of Mary into heaven, and August 22 is the feast of the Queenship of Mary, who was crowned Queen of heaven and earth.
Another reason that August is a beautiful month for me is that I celebrate the anniversary of my entrance into the convent – August 1, 1981.  That day was the first Saturday of August so there is another special connection to Mary for me.  My name is Sr. Marie James and when people ask me which day is my Feast day, I tell them that I celebrate every Marian Feast Day and every feast of every St. James (including Blessed James Alberione of course!).  Mary has been a significant person in my life.  My mother consecrated me to Mary before I was born by making a special pilgrimage to the shrine of Ste. Anne de Beaupré in Quebec, Canada.  My baptismal name is Anne Marie and when it came time to choose a profession name, I knew that I would keep “Marie” in honor of our Blessed Mother.

As a young girl in grade school, I belonged to the Blue Army and made thousands of rosaries for the missions.  In high school, I started a Marian group among the students, and in the novitiate I made my formal consecration to Mary using the book “True Devotion” by St Louis de Montfort.  Last year, the Pauline Books and Media Center in Culver City hosted a “33 Days to Morning Glory” group which met weekly and followed the program designed by Fr. Michael Gaitley of the Marian Fathers of Mary Immaculate.  The program prepared the group for Consecration to Mary and I was able to attend and renew my consecration.

Cooperator Candidate Joanne Morrissey
In Culver City we have a new group of candidates in the Period of Inquiry for Pauline Cooperators.  Joanne Morrissey came to know us through the “33 Days to Morning Glory” Sessions last year.  When I see her at the meetings, I always think to myself that Mary sent her to become a Pauline.
Mary Durand is another new candidate and when I asked her about her relationship with the Blessed Mother, she said, “The Blessed Mother has been my friend and guide. She has been someone to lean on when I am troubled.  The Blessed Mother Mary has given me courage to face my problems. Blessed Mother Mary has given me strength when I haven't had any. I love her very much.”
Pauline Cooperator Regina Aaron

Regina Aaron made her Cooperator promise in November 2014, and her comments about the Blessed Mother are: “Mary has always been a role model and example of patience, compassion and unquestioning faith that I hope to emulate. It continues to be for me a work in progress”.


Sr. Marie James Hunt entered the Daughters of St Paul community in 1981.  She is currently missioned in California where she is the manager of the Pauline Books and Media Centers in Culver City and San Diego.  Sr. Marie James is also the West Coast Coordinator of the Pauline Cooperators.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015


As we reflect on the Transfiguration of our Divine Master (August 6), we wonder what form such a revelation would take today if Christ walked among us. How would our Lord manifest his divinity to his disciples today? What would our reaction be?

Which then leads us to ask ourselves a harder question:  As followers of Jesus Master, Way, Truth and Life, how well do we reflect that divinity to others?

Blessed James Alberione preached, “In our Pauline life the only thing that we must realize – and it is not a small thing – is the life of Jesus Christ in the most perfect way possible. We do not have any specialties; we have only to love Jesus Christ as he is: the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”[i]

Our configuration with the Divine Master is a life-long journey that requires continuous study, prayer, practice and action. For many of us lay Paulines, it is all too easy to lose focus on this essential aspect of our preparation for the fullness of eternal life. The demands of daily life, work, family and society can draw our attention in such a way that we lose sight of the ultimate goal: to lose ourselves in Christ and let him live in us in order to bring others to him.

Remember the WWJD? (“What Would Jesus Do?”) bracelets that sprang up on the wrists of many young people several years back, often after returning from a retreat or youth group event? These were a great little tool for encouraging teens to think in a Christian context before making decisions or acting on impulse.

We think we could use a little WWJMWTLD? (“What Would Jesus Master, Way, Truth, and Life Do?”) bracelet from time to time to help us step back from the whir of daily life and refocus all our thoughts, affections, words and actions on making our hearts more fertile ground for this configuration with Christ to flourish. In a way, we have one in the form of the brief invocation we were taught early on in our Pauline life: “Jesus Master Truth, show me what I should do; Jesus Master Way, show me how to do it; Jesus Master Life, give me the graces and courage I need to do it.” 

It only takes a moment to pray, and can have an immense impact on our thoughts, words and actions as we zig-zag through life’s demands.  We have found that this small practice helps us to calmly speak truths that should be spoken, reserve judgments that are not ours to make, and open our hearts to those who are suffering physically or spiritually. How this could transform a society, which, as we have seen in recent weeks, is so much in need of this Gospel orientation!

The more we study and practice a Way-Truth-Life approach to our spiritual development, the richer our understanding has become of this essential devotion to the Divine Master as he defined himself for us. Ours has not been a lightning-bolt type transformation, but we try to keep it moving in the right direction. Some days we might take two steps forward and three steps back, but overall we strive to move forward, hand-in-hand. And thanks to the guidance, prayers and graces we receive as Paulines – and the beautiful models of faithful lives configured in service to Christ we have all throughout our history and walking among us today – we are filled with hope and joy to be on the right path.

May we all one day exclaim along with St. Paul that “I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2, 20).

[i] From Meditation 82, preached by Fr. Alberione in the General Archives collection of the Daughters of St. Paul, as cited on p. 191 in KAITHOLIL, GEORGE, Spirituality of Blessed Alberione, Saint of the Media, Bombay, 2009.

Jim and Luisa McMillan are members of the Holy Family Institute, which they entered in Colombia in 2000. They currently reside in Colorado with their youngest daughter, Maria, where they work as translators and interpreters. Their oldest daughter, Gabriela is married and lives in New York with her husband, Fidel, and their daughter, Emilia. Sara is currently attending graduate school in Michigan.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Ordinary Time, Extraordinary Faith

Brother Richard Brunner, SSP
As July draws to a close, I have two models of holiness in my thoughts. One is among the first Christian saints, Martha of Bethany, and the other a holy member of the Pauline Family I was blessed to know for the past decade and who died exactly a year ago yesterday, Brother Richard Brunner. When I first made my promise as a Pauline Cooperator, although I did not know him at all, he made a point to come over and welcome us into the Pauline Family. Brother Richard was both gracious and gregarious, a welcoming presence at all times. Like Saint Martha, he made great effort to make everyone feel welcomed at the various Pauline Family gatherings. Pictured here, his smile and openness project the welcoming character of his presence. I could almost see him in the kitchen–had he lived in Martha’s time–cheering and supporting her efforts in preparing for her guests.
Brother Richard’s biography describes him as “a man with a gentle spirit and great strength. He was loved by all those who were lucky enough to get to know him.” The biography went on to enumerate how Brother Richard contributed to the many aspects of the Society of Saint Paul’s worldwide media ministry in the over five decades since he made his first vows:
From 1981 to 1984 and again from 1989 to 1998 he was director of the Alba House Bookstores in the Southern Park and Eastwood Malls as well as the store on the congregation's property in Canfield. When stationed in Staten Island, NY, he participated in all aspects of the congregations book publishing ministry. He held in the course of his life many key administrative positions in the Society of St. Paul, including being general director of the Society in the United States from 2011-2012. At the time of his death he was director of the Society of St. Pauls Staten Island community. He helped promote and distribute millions of books, pamphlets and religious materials that deepened the faith, strengthened the spirituality and gave hope to countless people around the world.
Until now, I never connected Brother Richard with todays feast of Saint Martha, the sister of Lazarus and Mary of Bethany. She is most often remembered as the woman who is corrected by Jesus in response to her complaint that her sister, Mary, should be helping her with preparations for the guests. However, the usual overall message of the passage is that there must be a balance between the practical and the intellectualthat we each are not just like Mary or like Martha, but both sisters at once, striving for a balanced life which integrates both the mundane and the spiritual.

Martha, A Woman of Faith
In John 11, Scripture depicts this practical woman as well as a woman of great faith. When Jesus meets Martha after the burial of Lazarus, their conversation is about faith and salvation. This contrasts with Jesus’ meeting a few minutes later with Mary, which takes on a more emotional character with little dialogue. In that heart-breaking scene, Jesus responds simply to Mary, asking only where her brother has been buried. Jesus does not get into the details. He simply shows her what he will do.
Mother Thecla at work.

Instead, Jesus has a detailed dialogue with Martha. In spite of her feelings of loss and grief, this practical woman responds concisely to the questions posed by Jesus and demonstrates through her words that she is a true woman of faith who has heard, understood, and internalized the Good News of the Lord. In this sense, Martha’s words and actions echo the words and actions of the pre-eminent woman of faith, Mary, Mother of the Lord and Queen of Apostles. 

Martha’s story fits especially well into Ordinary Time on the Church’s liturgical calendar. She is a woman of faith who focuses on the practical matters of life. She sees the work that needs to be done, and she does it! In this sense, she is a wonderful model for all Paulines in their media ministries.

As Paulines, we hear the Good News through contemplative prayer and Scripture study. We respond, in turn, to this God-given faith and understanding by allowing it to lead us to Jesus through our respective work in the media. Our founder, Blessed James Alberione, and his collaborator, Mother Thecla, provided the finest examples to us of industrious and spiritually balanced dedication to the tasks of salvation through the modern media.

Humbly Living the Pauline Charism 
In a recent article in the Pauline Discover Hope newsletter (July 17, 2015), Sr. Mary Lea Hill, FSP, described her work as an editor in the following way:
“Blessed James Alberione, the founder of the Daughters of St. Paul, likened the editor’s work to the mission of Mary who edited God’s Word into our humanity. The editor helps an author bring his or her manuscript into the hands of today’s readers. Mary gave flesh and blood, breath and heartbeat to the Son of God. As an editor I help clothe the author’s word in today’s language and style; I guide the author through any modifications that will give breath to the work and a life that the reader will find in every word.

“At Pauline Books & Media, the work of an editor is truly a Gospel work. We are all about making the Word of God, clothed in many forms, available and accessible to those who receive it.”
Brother Richard contributed so much to this demanding Gospel work. Such ministries are rarely grandiose enterprises, but often routine, largely anonymous, sets of tasks–ordinary work in ordinary times. Yet, nothing short of the salvation of the world hangs in the balance of all this ordinary work. 

Closing Prayer
Jesus, Master, Way, Truth and Life: Enlighten our minds and hearts, and guide us to live a life of dedicated generosity and ever-increasing holiness.
Marie-Louise Handal has been a Pauline Cooperator for the past decade. She holds a Master’s Degree from St. Josephs Seminary, an M.S. in the Foreign Service from Georgetown University, and is a candidate for the S.T.L. from the International Marian Research Institute at the University of Dayton. She also holds a Certificate in Spiritual Direction from the New York Archdiocesan Center for Spiritual Development. Her professional work experience encompasses 20 years in international banking and finance, followed by a second career as a mathematics educator in Manhattan. Marie-Louise is a native New Yorker, born and raised in New York City.