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VATICAN CITY – Hundreds of members of the Association of Pauline Cooperators from around the world gathered in Italy taking part in an international convention on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of their foundation.
In 1917, Father James Alberione founded the lay Association of Pauline Cooperators. This third group of the Pauline Family followed the foundations of the Society of St Paul in 1914 and the Daughters of St Paul in 1915.
Pauline Cooperators are lay men and women who dedicate themselves through a special commitment to incarnate the mission and spirituality of the Pauline Family. The works they are involved in are as varied as catechesis, volunteer work, journalism, and book exhibitions in parishes. They often collaborate directly at a local Pauline, St Paul, or Liturgical Apostolate Centre. They participate above all in the communion formed among the other nine Institutes that make up the Pauline Family through their particular spirituality and prayer life.
Concluding the celebration of their centenary, hundreds of Pauline Cooperators journeyed to Italy where it all began. The Congress took place on 18-27 May 2018 and included presentations on the theme What It Means To Be a Pauline Cooperator in the Church Today: the Pauline Cooperators in St. Paul and in the Pauline Family. A pilgrimage to Alba to visit the many places linked to Fr Alberione and the other Institutes of the Pauline Family was the highlight of the program.
Several Pauline Cooperators from Singapore and Hong Kong visited Vatican News as part of their own personal Pauline pilgrimage experience. In speaking of the centenary convention and pilgrimage, it is obvious that they were touched profoundly and have found new impetus in their particular vocation within the Pauline Family.
Theresa Khoo from Singapore, a member for over 20 years, said she felt that she was coming home “to where it all started.” Winifred Loh, also from Singapore and a member for 20 years, called the trip a “miraculous journey.” It was “special to connect” with other Pauline Cooperators from all over the world, “to connect on the spirituality, to find common ground in various areas of diverse languages, and cultures, and projects, and initiatives,” Winifred said.
Tina Kwan from Hong Kong has visited many Pauline locations abroad. “Oh my goodness,” she said now that she has met other Pauline Cooperators from all over the world. “Fr Alberione had a message from God, and it’s really like a dream coming true” a hundred years later. For Dominic, a Cooperator of 3 or 4 years from Singapore, and Chum Hon Sun from Hong Kong meeting so many other members of the Pauline Family helped them begin to feel a part of a larger family. “I find that we are very comfortable. I suppose this is either the Pauline Spirit or just being Catholic,” Dominic said.
Felix from Hong Kong is now more convinced than ever that the “mass media is the most powerful way for us at present to convey…the Gospel message.” Chum Hon Sun and his wife have been Pauline Cooperators for 10 years. He discovered on this trip that “our role as a Cooperator is to spread the Good News, to follow the footsteps of our Founder, Fr Alberione.”
Evoking laughs from her fellow Cooperators, Lam So Ching from Hong Kong said that she received a lot of joy on the trip but, “I’m very tired.”
Dominic Lau from Singapore summed up his own and others’ experience as well saying that even though the participants came from different cultures and spoke different languages, we “have a common goal: to follow the spirit of Fr Alberione in proclaiming the Word of the Lord.” He returns home feeling compelled to cooperate even more with the Pauline Family in this mission. – Sr Bernadette Mary Reis fsp, Vatican News