Wednesday, October 20, 2010

FSP Formation Through a Wide-Angle Lens

One of the most exciting periods of a novice’s two-year formation as an up-and-coming Daughter of St. Paul is what we call her “apostolic experience.” It’s much like an internship. The timeframe for both our novices, Sr. Emily Marsh and Sr. Sywia Skonieczna, is five months, but the cities couldn’t be more different: Philadelphia and Warsaw.

A European assignment is not the usual, but seeing as Sylwia is on loan from Poland for her novitiate and is destined to return, it’s a must.

Novices Emily and Sylwia with Sr. Carmen
It requires a fair amount of soul-searching, both for each novice and their host communities. Can they live with each other? How do they grow together in the charism, that is, the way they are present to the Church and the world as Paulines? Does the mission flourish because of their collaboration? And especially for the novice, can she see herself faithfully living a life of consecrated chastity, poverty, and obedience?

From what we’ve heard so far, both novices are settling in very quickly. No doubt you’ll get to check in with them now and then through this blog over the next months.

So what’s their director doing meanwhile? Sr. Carmen Christi Pompei has flown the Boston coop, too…with the postulant director, Sr. Rebecca Marie Hoffart, from St. Louis! But wait. No time off for these two. They’re attending an intense, two-month course in Rome for “formators.” Topics in their syllabus are related to modern youth culture, evangelization in a world of globalization, and our communications culture today. Conferences on our Founder’s writings connect the heart of Pauline spirituality with the formative journey. Finally, the experience will be capped by a pilgrimage and retreat. We won’t be able to live with them!

Jackie Gitonga, Laura Nolin, Cheryl Galema, Theresa Noble,
and Erin Nolan with Sr. Rebecca
Joy, awe, gratitude, and renewed commitment light up Sr. Carmen’s e-mails back to us, and Sr. Rebecca is intrigued with the international makeup of the group of 32 formation directors. Both of them look forward to sharing all they’ve gleaned with the postulants ( and novices, as well as with other young women exploring a religious vocation.

There are 185 young women in the first stages of initial formation with us around the world in a congregation that numbers 2,600. Seven of them live in the U.S. In addition, seven junior professed sisters with temporary vows continue their discernment in our communities in the U.S. and Toronto in preparation for their perpetual, or “final,” vows after six years. If you'd like to contribute financially to their formation, why not send your gift online to the Daughters of St. Paul Education Fund:

Now, our formation directors aren’t the only ones going to Rome. Today Sr. Margaret Kerry and I leave to accompany several Pauline Cooperators on a pilgrimage to Italy, especially to the sites of our foundation. We'll meet up with Sr. Carmen and Sr. Rebecca there. Look for my next blog post Nov. 3, after I return. Ciao!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

What Do Americans Give To?

It may be old news, but it’s still good news: Americans like to give, and to religious causes, at that.

By permission of the Non-Profit Times

     Am I presuming too much when I say, “like to”? No matter. The July 1, 2010 issue of the Non-Profit Times ran a special report on last year’s charitable giving in the U.S. While there were few surprises in the types of contributions made, the charities benefitted, and the sources of funding, the real surprise came in the amount donated—$303.75 billion. Despite the recession and the predicted plunge in donations, charitable giving declined only about 3%, it came mostly from individuals (75%), and it went primarily to religion and education (70%). Corporations kept their commitments, and bequests increased slightly. Charities had braced themselves for the worst as the year wound down, but philanthropy sprinted ahead the last two weeks of December, making the year far less bleak than expected.
     The full article can be accessed at:

    For both the Daughters of St. Paul and our Pauline Books & Media Centers in the U.S. and Toronto, 2009 was a year of making do with much less. Fortunately, a few years ago the PBM Centers began trimming inventory and adopting strategies that enabled us to weather the onslaught of recession. We still had to close three locations, downsize another, and relocate a fifth, but data indicated that due to a significant decrease in walk-in traffic, precipitated also by major global changes in the book trade, those decisions would have been reached recession or no. They just came sooner than we anticipated.
     Conversely, other aspects of our mission are blossoming, thanks to the creativity and energy of sisters and co-workers, as well as the generosity of our donors:
¨          The Web store ( is growing and is serving people all over the U.S., even where we have PBM Centers;
¨          the digital production arm of Pauline Books & Media was launched. It now offers music downloads from the Daughters of St. Paul Choir, and has produced two iPhone applications. Another app is in the wings, funded largely by a corporate grant;
¨          PBM publishing has incorporated new technology and has made 36 titles available on iReaders, like Kindle ( and iPad (;
¨          the J-Club school book fair and Web site were established and are in the process of providing children’s products and of developing into a highly interactive online learning experience for classes and families;
¨          sisters and Pauline laity throughout the US/ESC province are gradually being prepared to carry out media literacy projects for their local Churches;
¨          a long-range, collaborative mission between the Daughters of St. Paul in North and South America is in the planning stage.

     In the near future you’ll be able to access details about these projects on this blog. Clearly, funding is needed for them, and we’re grateful to those who've already recognized this, Americans or not, and who've made religion and education their priority for 2009 and 2010.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fund Updates

In the blog post of Sept. 15, I reported that an anonymous donor had pledged $100,000 to the Education Fund for our novices and sisters, if we could raise a matching amount by Dec. 31. Now, three weeks later, the current totals are in: a few dollars shy of $29,000 given so far. However, that includes the income netted at the Afternoon Tea. That means that if contributions continue at this rate, we will reach only 53% of our goal by New Year’s Day.

Would you consider making a tax-deductible contribution, either by check to the Daughters of St. Paul at 50 St. Paul’s Ave. Boston, MA  02130, or on-line at by clicking the “Donate Now” button, then “Education”?

Here’s another idea. You have friends and relatives online, right? E-mail address books? Facebook friends? Twitter contacts? Why not try a little mobile giving, inviting them each to donate something affordable via their phones: “Teach a nun. Donate $5 to the Daughters of St. Paul Education Fund:”  Or if you prefer, you can invite them to “donate online like me” and give them the Web address. You and we will get to collaborate in sharing Jesus with a world desperately in need of Good News, by preparing some of his 21st century apostles for the task.

“Nowadays it seems that almost anyone can get up and speak on any subject; let us prepare ourselves so that we also can speak out….
And since we are people of our own time, let us make sure that women too are prepared for the new era.” 
Blessed James Alberione, SSP, Founder
From an essay written in 1911

A week later, I told you that I spent the day with the Holy Family Institute in Canfield, Ohio. We talked about the film apostolate in the history of the Pauline Family, as well as its future, and prayed together for the coming documentary on Bl. James Alberione. We interceded for those who are working on it, for those who will benefit from it, and for its donors. Last week Youngstown, Ohio’s, Catholic Exponent reported on the film project at

Interviewing Sr. Tiziana, PDDM
 HFI members banded together and gave $2,500 for its production and promotion. The film crew is aiming to finish its work by 2012, which means we need to finish financing it by the end of 2011—one year from now. So far, people have contributed $28,773.76, or just above a quarter of our $100,000 goal. And you’ve been giving for a year. Once the film crew returns from Italy, we will have spent it on their expenses and the interviews they’ve conducted since spring. That leaves a projected deficit of roughly $2,500. Happily, Sr. Helena has finished the first draft of the script, but funds will be needed to help her go ahead.

We’ve been able to secure some larger donations and are working with two HFI members to write grant proposals. However, we know we’ll need to expand the donor base.

What about you? Your family or friends? Have they seen the four-minute film preview? Why not send them this blog address and tell them they can do what you did— scroll down the right side of the page and watch it. If you want to, you can also tell them that the donate button is on the film’s Web site:

One HFI member asked if the film would be oriented toward encouraging priestly or religious vocations. Since Sr. Helena Burns, FSP, who’s writing the script, is also one of our regional vocationists, you can guess the answer to that. But it’s also meant to present Fr. Alberione as a role model for those who foster a media culture built on faith values and the dignity of the human person. The hope is that, by presenting this man and his mission as an antidote to polarization and fundamentalism, the Church will better connect with the world through the media.

Can you be part of that? Absolutely! Write to us or click on and donate now.

“We need to put down the scissors of censorship and pick up the camera, [because] the power of the cinema surpasses that of the school, the pulpit, and the press and always produces greater results.”
Blessed James Alberione, SSP, Founder
March 18, 1938