Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Death of the Church’s Media Apostle


The Pauline Family celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Blessed Jacques Alberione, the founder of the Pauline Family, a modern apostle of the media.

By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp

It was on November 26, 1971 that Pope Paul VI, a long-time friend of the Pauline Family, left the Vatican for a rare private visit. His destination was the bedside of Father James Alberione, Founder of the Pauline Family, who died later that day at 6.30 p.m. The words Pope Paul had spoken just over two years earlier, on June 28, 1969, when he conferred on Alberione the Pro Ecclesia and Pontifice cross, say all you can say about this great man.

“Here he is: humble, silent, indefatigable, always vigilant, collected in his thoughts, which go from prayer to action; always anxious to scrutinize the “signs of the times”, that is to say the most creative means of reaching souls. Our Fr. Alberione gave the Church new instruments to express itself, new means to give vigor and breadth to her apostolate, new capacities and a new awareness of the validity and possibilities of her mission in the modern world. with modern means. Dear Fr. Alberione, allow the Pope to rejoice in your long, faithful and tireless work and the fruits he has produced for the glory of God and the good of the Church.

Pope Paul. VI at the bedside of Blessed Jacques Alberione on the day of his death, November 26, 1971

A vocation as an apostle of the media in the making

Sixteen-year-old seminary in 1900, James Alberione found himself on probation at the seminary in Alba, Italy, after being expelled from the minor seminary in Bra. The night between December 31, 1900 and January 1, 1901 was the turning point in his life. While this adolescent son of peasants prayed before the Blessed Sacrament in the Cathedral of Alba:

“A special light came from the Host and a greater understanding of this invitation from Jesus“ venite ad me omnes ”(“ Come to me, all of you ”, Mt 11:28)… He felt deeply obliged to prepare himself to do something for the Lord and for the women and men of the new century with whom he would spend his life… ”His prayer lasted four hours that night, that“ the century may be born in Christ ”and that the Church receive “a new impetus for the mission” and “make good use of the new means of apostolate”. (Extract from the autobiographical work Abundantes Divitiae Gratiae Suae)

Blessed James Alberione as a newly ordained priest

Blessed James Alberione as a newly ordained priest

What this “something” was gradually became clear to him shortly after his ordination in 1907. He himself testified that he originally thought of founding “a Catholic organization of writers, technicians, booksellers and retailers; Catholics to whom he would give direction, work and spirit of the apostolate… ”. But in 1910, he was convinced that the Lord wanted these “professionals” to be men and women religious.

Modern world … modern means

After that, the life of Father Alberione is characterized by a series of foundations that will eventually extend beyond Italy and encompass the whole world. As Pope Paul VI said, Father Alberione’s vision was rooted in the present. His life was dedicated to forming “new apostles” in order to give the Church a “new impetus to the mission”. Where others in the Church saw modern means of communication as a threat, he would adopt them, one by one, as they were invented, for evangelistic purposes.

Blessed James Alberione observing the film equipment

Blessed James Alberione observing the film equipment

Little by little, the members of the institutes of priests, brothers and nuns that he founded spread throughout the world: Europe, South America, North America, Asia, Africa. Members of the Society of Saint Paul and the Daughters of Saint Paul would eventually set up publishing houses, record companies, bookstore chains, movie agencies, offering their media products to people in their homes, in schools, in parishes. The Pious Disciples of the Divine Master would adopt all means to communicate the riches of the Church’s liturgy through the making of clothing, statues, mosaics, icons and the design of churches. The Sisters of Jesus the Good Shepherd will soon meet in the parishes, ensuring evangelization, catechesis, liturgical animation, formation of pastoral associates and other forms of service, according to the needs of the times and places. The Sisters of the Queen of the Apostles will eventually take their place in the Church, accompanying young people in their vocational search.

But Alberione didn’t just focus on training priests and men and women religious. His vision also incorporated diocesan priests and lay people through four secular institutes and an association for lay collaborators. To unite the thousands of men and women who today belong to the different institutes of the Pauline Family, it is the desire to proclaim Christ by the most modern means of communication. Together they strive to realize the vision of Blessed Alberione who wanted them to be Saint Paul alive again.

Feature film about the apostle of the media, Blessed James Alberione

Celebrating the life and heritage of Alberione

Throughout the month of November, the Pauline Family and the Church celebrate the life and the heritage that the Lord has given to the Church through the intermediary of Blessed Jacques Alberione. A series of events scheduled for the month starts on November 1. Cardinal Angelo de Donatis, Cardinal Vicar of Rome, will celebrate Mass during which the remains of Blessed Jacques Alberione will be transferred from the crypt of the Sanctuary of the Queen of the Apostles to the ground floor of the church. Cardinal Marcello Semeraro will join the Pauline Family to close the celebrations on the liturgical feast of Blessed Alberione on November 26. All events will be broadcast live on YouTube. The closing event can also be seen live here at Vatican News.

Photo gallery

Blessed James Alberione, Founder of the Pauline Family

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