Blessed James Alberione

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In 1913 a further step was taken toward the fulfillment of his desires. The study of History in the Philosophy curriculum and, even more so, that of Church History in the Theology curriculum, gave him the opportunity to highlight the ills and needs of peoples, their fears and hopes; especially the need for undertakings and means in harmony with the present century.
To this end he composed two prayers; one for Italy, another for the other nations; it was an appeal to the Lord to raise up an institution for this [purpose]. The prayer was recited by all the clerics, led by the cleric Giaccardo.1 That year being the celebration of the centenary of the Costantinian2 peace granted to the Church, the clerics had an even better appreciation of what they were asking of the Lord.
Ever bearing in mind the future beginning of the Pauline Family, he was thinking of personnel who had to be prepared [and] looking for young boys and girls and training them.
At Narzole (Cuneo), where he worked in parish ministry for nine months (in anticipation of the end of his studies) in 1908, he found boys with good qualities of mind and heart. Among them was the pious and intelligent Giuseppe Giaccardo. He started him off in the seminary, underwriting his expenses. When he3 was transferred to Alba (end of 1908) as Spiritual Director of the Seminary, he cultivated his spiritual life, preparing him for the Pauline Family.
When he was preaching the Spiritual Exercises to youngsters in the parish at Benevello,4 he noticed one who was paying special attention. When he knew him better, he sent5 him to the minor seminary at Bra. Later, he placed him in the Salesian Institute in Turin to experience the teaching method of Saint John Bosco.6 This was Torquato Armani.7
At Castellinaldo, he befriended another youngster, Desiderio Costa.8 [He came from] a good family; he was devout, methodical and intelligent. When he was about to open the first house, he invited him; and he dutifully entered.
In his role as Spiritual Director and teacher of the student clerics, it was easy for him to talk about the Church’s great needs in those early years of the century. There was also [such] a combination of factors and close bonds with the students, that several, once the first Pauline9 house opened, applied to enter. Here the aim was to update the way of teaching, training and preparing [them for] the apostolate. Some were accepted, others invited. The touchy situation10 and his love for the diocese (which had, however, no lack of clergy) induced him to limit candidates.
Excellent clerics were returning from the (1914-1918) war steeled in virtue, as well as in new trials and sufferings; and also with sweeping apostolic ideals. Life at the front and in military hospitals bore evidence to the new needs of the Christian people and of the nation, which they had served with fidelity and Christian valor.
Fr Trosso, Fr Borrano, Fr Fenoglio, Fr Robaldo, Fr Chiavarino, and Fr Manera entered.11
[As] for the Sisters, he had, already in 1911, started drafting the book, La donna associata allo zelo sacerdotale,12 to show what women can do in collaboration with priests. He explains in particular what they can do in the area of the press apostolate and in the apostolate of social work and pastoral care. Such a possibility is particularly wide-ranging if we are talking of a woman consecrated to God, a Sister. This book laid the groundwork for the clergy to accept the invitation addressed later to them to send female vocations when God’s hour sounded. In fact, in its various Italian and foreign editions, it bore much fruit.
Personal relations, contacts and the clergy helped a great deal for male vocations; particularly so Vita Pastorale,13 which was sent to every pastor.
Years passed, however, before we could formulate a clear idea about a vocation that had so much of the new [in it]; and the Pauline Family could ensure stability for everyone.14
The periodical, Unione Cooperatori,15 which came out depending on the material and the possibilities available, was also a great help.

1 The Author, who is not following a chronological order, anticipates events here. – Giuseppe Giaccardo was born at Narzole (Cuneo) on 13.6.1896. In 1908, when Fr Alberione, then a curate in the town, met him, he sent him to the Seminary in Alba. On 4.7.1917, still a cleric, he moved to the “Printing School” and was appointed “Maestro” of the aspirants. Ordained priest on 19.10.1919, he made his first private vows on 5.10.1921 and his public vows in March 1927, when the Pious Society of Saint Paul received canonical recognition. His profession name was Timothy. He died in Rome on 24.1.1948. John Paul II proclaimed him Blessed on 22.10.1989. – Cf. G. BARBERO, Giaccardo Giuseppe Timoteo, in Bibliotheca Sanctorum, VI, Rome 1965, cc. 320-322; E. FORNASARI, Un profeta obbediente. Beato Timoteo Giaccardo…, Edizioni Paoline, Alba 1989.

2 Constantine became emperor in 306; he died on 22.5.337. The Edict of Milan, allowing freedom of Christian worship, was issued on 13.6.313. 1913 commemorated the 16th centenary of the event.

3 Here the subject is Fr Alberione.

4 Benevello, like Castellinaldo (cf. AD 106), is a small village in the district of Alba (Cuneo). Maggiorino Vigolungo (1904-1918) who also came from there died in holiness after two years of Pauline life.

5 In the ds there is “invitò” [“invited”], contrary to the ms [inviò “sent”]. It is probably a typing error.

6 Saint John Bosco (1815-1888): a great teacher, who also worked in the field of “the good press” (cf. L. GIOVANNINI, Le “Letture Cattoliche” di Don Bosco esempio di “Stampa Cattolica” nel secolo XIX, Liguori, Naples 1984).

7 Torquato Armani, Tito, born on 15.5.1899, entered the Congregation on 20.8.1914; professed on 5.10.1921; ordained priest on 20.12.1924; died at Albano Laziale (Rome) on 6.12.1980.

8 Desiderio Costa, Giovanni Crisostomo, born on 3.5.1901 at Castellinaldo (Cuneo); entered on 20.8.1914; professed on 5.10.1921; ordained priest on 22.12.1923; died at Albano Laziale (Rome) on 30.1.1989.

9 The adjective “Pauline”, present in the ds, was placed in parenthesis, by hand. Above it was an “x”, as if to indicate its eventual elimination.

10 The allusion here is to some tension in relations with the Seminary and with some of the local clergy.

11 Sebastiano Trosso, Benedetto C., b. on 8.9.1894 at Corneliano (Cuneo); entered on 28.8.1920; professed on 5.10.1921; priest on 29.6.1922; d. at Alba on 14.10.1952. – Pietro Borrano, Francesco Saverio, b. on 18.3.1901 at San Damiano d’Asti; entered on 3.7.1920; professed on 5.10.1921; priest on 22.12.1923; d. at Canfield (U.S.A.) on 16.4.1993. – Angelo Fenoglio, Francesco di Sales, b. on 25.11.1893 at Gorzegno (Cuneo); entered on 12.7.1920; professed on 5.10.1921; priest on 29.6.1922; d. at Albano Laziale (Rome) on 24.1.1980. – Cesare Robaldo, Giovanni Evangelista, b. on 24.5.1896 at Gorzegno (Cuneo); entered on 12.7.1920; professed on 5.10.1921; priest on 29.6.1923; d. in Rome on 31.5.1977. – Giovanni Chiavarino, Vincenzo, b. on 1.12.1900 at Bossolasco (Cuneo); entered on 13.7.1920; professed on 5.10.1921; priest on 22.12.1923; d. at Alba on 12.5.1994. – Alfredo Manera, Filippo, b. on 9.2.1897 at Serravalle Langhe (Cuneo); entered in 1920; professed on 5.10.1921; priest on 29.6.1923; d. in Rome on 9.2.1941. – Ms adds another two names to this list: Giovanni Battista Ghione, Agostino, b. on 30.6.1893 at Cortemilia (Cuneo); entered on 21.9.1920; professed on 5.10.1921; priest on 29.6.1922; d. in Rome on 3.2.1960. – Giovanni Basso, Agostino, b. at Roddino (Cuneo) on 3.5.1896; professed on 5.10.1921; priest on 15.10.1922; d. at Alba on 7.9.1976.

12 The first edition was printed at Alba, at the Printing School, in 1915: cf. AA.VV. Donne e uomini oggi a servizio del Vangelo: La donna associata allo zelo sacerdotale, published by the Center of Pauline Spirituality, Rome 1993.

13 Vita Pastorale: a magazine started by Fr Alberione in 1916.

14 This last sentence “and the Pauline Family could ensure stability for everyone”, not in the ms, was a handwritten addition in the ds, but placed afterwards in parenthesis.

15 Unione Cooperatori Buona Stampa (1918-28); then Unione Cooperatori Apostolato Stampa (1928-50), Unione Cooperatori Apostolato Edizioni (March 1950), Il Cooperatore Paolino Apostolato Edizioni (Sept-Oct 1950) and lastly Il Cooperatore Paolino (1952 onwards).