Wednesday, August 29, 2012

That'll Be Two Cents, Please

I need some advice. Yes, yours. Next month, Pauline Faithways will have been on the Web for two solid years. It’s time to assess where we’ve been, how we’ve been communicating with you, and what you and I can plan for regarding the Pauline mission. There’s a fair amount of re-dimensioning in our community and in my own life these days, as well as changes in the development office. So I’ve come up with a few questions, which I hope you’ll answer, after you finish reading the following news.

I understand how “crotchety Carl” felt whenever he looked out his window in the animated flick Up. With the mega-construction going on around him, his little home was the last bastion of bygone years. Our Pauline Books & Media publishing house here in Boston is being redesigned to streamline operations. Every day, existing work areas are outfitted for PBM’s central administration and new spaces spring up. Sisters and employees have been relocated, at least temporarily; old carpets and wall coverings have taken up new quarters in the dumpster. That makes for lots of power toys—sorry, tools—all outside my office. (Good thing the door closes.) My own cubby hole will also be included in the project, but because I’m leaving Sept. 13, I’m holding out for as long as I can, dedicating myself to tying up loose ends.

So where am I going? Rome…for nine months! I’ll be taking the course on the Pauline charism—our Family identity—along with seventeen other Pauline women and men. More on that in a minute. It’s something I’ve wanted to do since 2004, but couldn’t, because my sister and I were helping our parents. Then I began working to get the grant seeking part of our development office up and running, which as development people know, is a fulltime job.

If you’ve read Pauline Faithways on a fairly regular basis, you know my parents both died in 2009. That leaves the grant office. How can I walk away from that? Well, it didn’t exactly die, but I’m not exactly walking away either. After three years of growth, it had reached a point of needing personnel who are better trained than I am. I had hoped that we could bring someone on board, but apparently since we can’t afford to hire anyone, (and some are not sure we want to), and since no one else among us is adequately prepared in the field either, it was decided to close the office until workable alternatives surface.

My office: Right of the new one John is constructing
I knew that was an option, but I was still surprised by the decision and wondered what that might spell for the future of development within the community. I was encouraged when I learned that we would keep other aspects of the department operating at full tilt. Sr. Anne Eileen Heffernan still efficiently coordinates the direct mail fundraising department. She also occasionally writes for grants, as some others are doing when possible. God knows we need it: building maintenance, education of our sisters, the infirmary…not to mention the media element of our mission.

In addition, our Web site ( contains information, updated periodically, about projects to give to and ways to donate

Our provincial government has been supportive of funding projects wherever these have emerged, like the striking renovation of our PBM Center in Metairie, outside New Orleans,* or the outfitting of modest, but beautiful, assisted living quarters above the infirmary for some of our sisters. They’ve also strengthened existing initiatives, like the documentary film on our founder, or annual events, like the Afternoon Tea for our Education Fund in Boston (Sept. 16 this year), the Benefit Dinner in St. Louis, and the Staten Island Christmas concert at the Hilton—all of which double as evangelizing moments for our guests, a central feature of all real development. The “grace-full” way in which this takes place makes me confident that we will continue the work of structuring development to meet our own aims and those of our donors more effectively.

By the way, the Education Fund is going to support my charism studies in Rome. As you may remember, a charism is a gift of the Holy Spirit given to individuals for building the Church, the body of Christ. The Pauline charism is shared by members of all ten branches of our Family, with distinguishing features (some would say, additional charisms) for each branch: Society of St. Paul, Daughters, Holy Family Institute, and so on. Eighteen of us from five branches and thirteen nations will participate in an intense course of study, writing, prayer, and sharing—all in Italian. You can start praying for us anytime!

Christin Jezak (L) made her Cooperator promise Sunday.
I’ve now been assigned as a member of the formation team of the Pauline Cooperators. These are laity who live the charism in their own circumstances and who carry out the Pauline mission and its apostolic spirituality into areas of society that we would never be able to reach. I’m thrilled; I love working with the laity. In fact, that was the aspect of development work I enjoyed the most: coming to know you and seeing how God was able to do wonderful things through that relationship. My specific aim in taking the course is to explore our identity and history in relation to laity in the Church today and especially Pauline laity. My prayer is that it will serve you as you live Christ in the Church and the world today.

The friendships we Daughters have with many of you will continue through the other aspects of our development outreach. I’ll be able to keep in touch, too, in my own way. Fr. Alberione viewed the donor and benefactor as a kind of Cooperator, including those who may not extend the mission financially, but who pray, or place their time and skills at the service of sharing the Gospel.

So Sr. Leonora, our provincial superior, has asked me to continue connecting with you through Pauline Faithways. That brings us to the survey. I’d like to know what has been especially helpful to you in the blog and what you could do without, what you would like to see more of and how often. Even if you haven’t read it very often, please fill it out anyway. It’s useful for me to understand what would draw you back to the blog and share it with others. The whole process will probably take you five minutes, but your two cents will be worth millions to me. Click here to complete it and even pass it on if you want to.

I’m sure that you’ve had the experience of putting your whole self into a project, a role, or a relationship, only to see it dissolve. That can be heartbreaking, the closer to the heart it is. Faith tells us that when it’s placed in the heart of God, it’s never lost. Our time, effort, expense, worry, and love are all there, eternally. How often the disappointment and even disillusionment, like a pruning, make way for unexpected growth and discovery. We catch glimpses of it here and now if we pay attention, but as with every mystery, its secrets will be unveiled only in eternity, and we will spend forever marveling at the goodness and love of our God for us.
* Two days ago the sisters evacuated due to then-Hurricane Isaac, so please pray for them and the PBM center they’ve left behind.

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