THE APOSTOLINE SISTERS
1. Corrections and additions to the Constitutions
Fr Alberione subjected the opening articles of the Constitutions of the Apostoline Sisters (or Regina Apostolorum Institute) to particular scrutiny. Witness to this is the following text that concerns the first nine articles of Chapter I. It contains a number of changes made by Fr. Alberione to correct and above all expand it.
INSTITUTE REGINA APOSTOLORUM FOR VOCATIONS
CHAPTER I. AIM AND SPIRIT OF THE CONGREGATION1. – The general aim of the Regina Apostolorum Institute for Vocations is the glory of God and the sanctification of its members through the faithful practice of the three vows of obedience, chastity and poverty, and by ordering one’s life in accordance with the norms of the sacred canons and of the present Constitutions.
2. – The special aim of the Congregation is in view of vocations; it consists in undertaking, with traditional means and with modern means (press, cinema, radio, television, photography, and so on) a threefold type of work in view of vocations, that is, recruitment, training and assistance.
a) Education: [to instruct] all the Church’s faithful on this great need, that is, vocations, following the example of Jesus Christ.
b) Action: to organize and set up guidance centers for candidates to the priesthood or to the life of perfection; [to set up] displays in parishes, institutes and so on; to hold meetings, weeks, triduums, spiritual retreats, and days for vocations; to prepare flyers, books, periodicals, films, radio and television broadcasts; to organize conferences and entertainment; to set up workshops to make habits; and whatever else is needed for poor vocations.
c) Prayer: devotion to Jesus Master, to the Queen of Apostles, to Saint Paul the Apostle; adoration of the Blessed Sacrament; to promote prayers for children, parents, and institutes; to have sacrifice days, and so on, all geared to recruiting, aiding and assisting vocations. And so: In their love for J[esus] C[hrist], for the Church and for souls, [the members] turn their whole life into an apostolate for vocations.
3. – The Institute’s ideal is summed up in these words: All Catholics, with all their endeavors, with all means, for all vocations, for all apostolates.
All the faithful for all the unfaithful; all the fervent for all the indifferent, all Catholics for all non-Catholics.
[May] all those called [be] faithful to their vocation; may all priests and religious [be] holy; may everyone [be] docile to the Church in view of their eternal salvation.
4. – The Institute will have to follow very diligently what is contained in the directives and the documents of the Holy See concerning religious and priestly vocations. It will also look after those associated with the two Pontifical Works for Vocations: one established within the Sacred Congregation for Religious; the other within the Sacred Congregation for Seminaries.
[The Institute] will also concern itself with lay persons who devote themselves to charitable and social works, to religious instruction and to worship in its many expressions.
5. – Without the authorization of the Holy See no one may change the special aim of the Congregation, or add works in a permanent form that are not contained in its aim.
6. – The members of the Institute live [on the income] of their apostolate and on beneficence. Let them remember that in view of the aim itself and the spirit of the Congregation, they should lead a simple life, such that people will see them as exemplary persons and approach them with confidence. Thus they are to have proper housing, suitable for Sisters, but nothing over-refined, luxurious and superfluous.
7. – The members of the Regina Apostolorum Institute exercise their faith in the Providence of God, [who is] always so benevolent toward those who put their trust in it, by fidelity to their mission and to the spirit of their Congregation.
8. – In fulfilling their delicate apostolate, let the members’ hallmark always be gentleness combined with strength. Let them imitate the Divine Master, their light, comfort and reward.
9. – The members of the Regina Apostolorum Institute profess a special devotion to Jesus Master, to the Queen of Apostles and to Saint Paul the Apostle.
2. A vocation Institute for all vocations
On 15 September 1961 Fr Alberione was present at the inauguration of a Vocation Display in the Seminary of Alba, which was organized to commemorate the 80th birthday of Bishop Carlo Stoppa. The talk that he gave on that occasion focused on the topic of vocations. It was later used by Vita Pastorale, which published it in November 1961. The introduction was used for an article in San Paolo, also in November 1961. Both the handwritten and the typewritten version of the talk have been found, and were used by Fr Esposito in Carissimi in San Paolo, pp. 138-140 and 190. What is reproduced here are the opening and closing sections as transcribed from the tape recording. We refer the reader to the apposite volume of sermons of the Founder to the Apostoline for the complete talk together with the critical notes on the variations between the two drafts.
Praised be Jesus Christ.
To return to this holy enclosure, which is the seminary, arouses in us a most profound sense of gratitude for the countless benefits received here, and it evokes an even more intense love for it: for the seminary, the pulsating heart of the diocese! Such thoughts come spontaneously, particularly in this week, when everything leads us to reflect again on vocations and on their formation which is so wisely and so well imparted here by the Bishop and his best helpers.
The seminary may be likened to a monstrance. It is a center from which, like rays of light and heat, new priests depart for their various destinations and communicate what they have received here. The remembrance of persons venerated and loved, of the years of one’s youth and, to some degree, of struggle, observing the continual progress, the ever courteous and cordial welcome, particularly during these days, all this leads us to consider the seminary as the paternal home that we share. One feels dutybound to kiss the entrance door, to cast an eye over the rooms, the residence of those who loved and guided us, where our small but vital questions were resolved. To wonder at the progress and then, immediately, to make one’s way to the chapel, to gaze on this holy tabernacle, to raise one’s eyes to our tender Mother of Good Counsel. And behind that grill, the stairway that conducted us to the bishop... For us it was everything: [it was] surety for us and for our sanctification, our future, our future ministry and eternal salvation.
Cardinal Pizzardo wrote to me: The idea of a Display on the theme of ‘Vocations’ is a praiseworthy one, even more so on the occasion of the 80th birthday of the Bishop. This Display, almost the first [one could say], is in Alba, and we foresee that later on it will spread to other dioceses. This is our prayer. An example: in 1927, in Alba, we held the First Gospel Convention under the auspices of the then Bishop, [Giuseppe Francesco] Re. Later on, [the event] spread to many other dioceses and parishes. Now the Pauline Family alone, in one year, has held 1356 Gospel Weeks or Triduums in Italy.
The Lord of creation confers a vocation and assigns his chosen ones to save humankind. But then this call can arrive at any hour of one’s life: from primo mane [day-break] to the eleventh hour [cf. Mt 20:1-6]. Every priest can say of himself with Saint Paul: Qui, that is, God, me segregavit ex utero matris meæ» [cf. Gal 1:15]. But [Paul] was called at an age between his youth and his mature years. So, too, the call to work in the Church. There are preparatory vocation houses that accept promising boys from third primary to secondary school inclusive. There are ordinary diocesan and religious seminaries that accept boys, as here in Italy, specifically between 12-13 years of age. For adult vocations there are seminaries and religious vocation houses for candidates called later in life. Who can fathom God’s designs? Our commitment is to be alert so as to hear the toll of God’s bell, the hour of God that the Queen of Apostles can bring forward. O altitudo divitiarum sapientiæ et scientiæ Dei! Quam incomprehensibilia sunt iudicia eius et investigabiles viæ eius! Quis cognovit sensum Domini? aut quis consiliarius eius fuit? [cf. Rom 11:33f].
A cue. The Pious Society of Saint Paul in Italy has, up to the present, accepted young boys almost exclusively from the age of 12 to 15. This year a preparatory vocation house is being opened at Modena, to be managed by the Pastorelle Sisters. A second one is also underway in northern Italy. Then there will be a house for adult vocations, at Albano, to be run by the priests of the Society of Saint Paul.
As a follow-up to the initiative1 of the Holy See, a start was made on an Institute for vocations called Regina Apostolorum for all vocations. The present Vocation Display is one of its outcomes, although many contributed to the work. [The Sisters] work for all vocations: by means of prayer and [such] activities [as are] possible in keeping with their number. In the prayer they recite every day:
Adoration and thanksgiving to the Lord, author of the priesthood, of the religious state, and of every vocation.
Atonement to God’s fatherly heart for vocations who are neglected, hindered or betrayed.
That all those called may aim exclusively for the glory of God and [the good of people’s] souls.
That all may come to understand the appeal made by Jesus Christ: the harvest is great.
That in every place there be formed a family, religious, and social environment, favorable to vocation development and response.
That parents, priests and teachers may open the way to those who are called with their advice and their material and spiritual help.
That in the recruitment and formation of vocations, Jesus Christ Way, Truth and Life be taken as a guide.
That those called may be holy, the light of the world and the salt of the earth.
In conclusion: that everyone may come to a deep vocation awareness: all Catholics, with every means, for all vocations and for all apostolates.
It seems to me that in view of forming vocation awareness there is no better means after prayer, especially eucharistic prayer, than the reading of the Gospel, and the following of this guiding thought: to reflect on how Jesus called his chosen ones after a night of prayer, pernoctans orationem Dei [cf. Lk 6:12]. And how he trained them. So, here, we find recruitment and formation all in one.
Now let us thank the Lord because, seeing the great progress of this Seminary, everything predicts that the clergy will improve more and more both spiritually and morally, and at the same time that religious women and men will be favored, as far as possible, in accordance solely and always with the will of God. Everything for the glory of God and the salvation of souls and our own sanctification. For sanctity is a magnet that attracts, and it attracts especially the pure and innocent of heart. In that case, those children who besiege the assistant pastor and who besiege the pastor can at times be annoying and a bit mischievous, but Let the little children come to me [cf. Mk 10:14; Lk 18:16].
Praised be Jesus Christ.
1 In the typewritten text we find “insistence”, which is quite different from “initiative”. Cf. Carissimi in San Paolo, p. 140, and Ut perfectus sit homo Dei I, 122: “As a follow-up to the in-sistence of the Superiors who guide us, that a start should be made on an Institute for vocations, I have complied by promoting the Regina Apostolorum Institute.”