Programmi nel mondo - New York
 

Anno Alberioniano 4 aprile 2003 – 4 aprile 2004

What a Glorious Celebration. Coming together in EUCHARIST  and Prayer was just a reaffirmation of the Pauline Charism that we read about and experience as Cooperators. What a true blessing was. Cardinal Egan capsulated Fr. Alberione very well and brought him alive and focused his teachings as he would want them carried out.  Thanks.  Elly, Philadelphia
 

Homily of Cardinal Egan on Commemoration of Beatification of Blessed James Alberione
(St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York, November 30, 2003)

My dear friends in the Lord,

One of the greatest blessings at St. Patrick's Cathedral is the number of celebrations we have throughout the year for various special events. For example, we have celebrations for virtually all the ethnic groups here in New York — the Irish and the Italians, the Polish, the Germans and the Haitians. We actually have 18 different celebrations here each year for the Hispanic community. I have mass this afternoon at 2 o'clock for the community from Nicaragua. So this is one of the great blessings we have here. These celebrations are for all the wonderful people that make up the community of New York.

Then we have celebrations for all kinds of civic organizations — the working men and women on Labor Day, the police officers, the firefighters and the health care professionals Sunday after Sunday. They come here to celebrate and we are honored and delighted to welcome them.

We have celebrations for religious institutions and organizations, colleges and universities, the Order of Malta, the Knights of Columbus, the Catholic Daughters of America. We celebrate these and so many others, but none of these celebrations are as welcomed as when we celebrate a community of religious women and men as we do here this morning — The Pauline Family — a community of women and men who give great witness to the world for Jesus Christ.

Today this celebration certainly has a message for the Pauline Family. We tell them we love them. We congratulate them, we celebrate with them the beatification of their Founder. They call him Blessed James Alberione. I lived in Italy for almost 23 years of my life. We Italians call him Don Alberione and I suspect I am going to slip a number of times and say that. It just doesn't sound right to say James for some reason or another. He is Giacomo to me. In any case he has a great story for all of us. And I would like to tell it to you briefly because I believe the lives of the Blesseds and the Saints are great messages of holiness for all of us.

James — Don Giacomo Alberione — was born in 1884 in northern Italy, a little part of that great country called Cuneo, not too far from Turin. He was born of a very poor family of peasant farmers. It was a large family. He went to the local seminary and in 1900 there was the change of the centuries just like we had three years ago here. In this wonderful cathedral of ours we celebrated that new century. We celebrated it the way that John Paul II, our Holy Father told us to celebrate it. In 1900 the Holy Father was Leo XIII and young James Alberione celebrated the opening of the new century kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament and feeling a call to follow St. Paul and announce Jesus Christ to the world in a 20th century fashion with all the great communications that were coming forward.

He committed himself to this. He likes to say this inspiration came from the Eucharist and that all the religious communities he founded came from the Eucharist — that encounter with Jesus Christ there at the turn of the last century. He was ordained. Shortly thereafter he became the spiritual director at the seminary and the editor of the local diocesan newspaper called the Gazzetta d'Alba — the city was Alba in northern Italy. Pretty soon he founded an order of priests with the commitment he had to announce the gospel through the press, through films, through television as the years went on, through newspapers, through every modern means of communication. Out of this came the Pious Society of St. Paul, priests and brothers for the apostolate of the Good Press; the Daughters of St. Paul; the Pious Disciples of the Divine Master; Sisters of Jesus the Good Shepherd; the Apostoline Sisters and any number of groups of laity who form themselves in every corner of the world into the Pauline Family.

Their purpose is to announce Jesus Christ in the style of the 20th century with everything that was new and powerful. Before long, Don Alberione had over 10,000 priests, brothers, sisters and dedicated laity. Films, bookstores, printing presses, film studios, radio stations, television stations, film production — every means of social communications and every means of mass media — was to be his and his Family's interest and commitment.

Now when you hear all of this you probably imagine that this was a big powerful fellow, with a huge personality who is out trumpeting his achievements and impressing the world. He was just the opposite. He was a very quiet fellow, very private and very humble, very self-effacing, small in stature, and anxious not to stand out. But he had a secret — and the secret was prayer. Prayer — a life of prayer and prayer above all before his Eucharistic Lord. It was there that his inspirations as a very young man had its beginning. And it was from there that he derived — dare I say it? — his power, spiritual power across the world.

This man knew the Orient, Europe, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa, South and Central America. He had incredible and still has incredible establishments in every corner of the world. But this quiet holy priest looked for no attention but to just announce Jesus Christ with the most modern of means. He died on November 26, 1971 at the young age of 87. And this year, April 27th, Pope John Paul II  named him Blessed. Thus our mass today is a celebration of the Beatification of Don Alberione, of Father James Alberione if you wish.

It is an occasion for us to congratulate the Pauline Family. It is an occasion for us to beg their Founder to keep them close to the Lord and to increase their work, especially to increase vocations. And if you have any doubt about the wisdom of Don Alberione, when he decided to come to the United States, what city did he choose? Of course, he chose New York — the communications capital of this nation and according to John Paul II, the capital of the world.

He came here and so we have Alba House in Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island. Incidentally I have been in every one of those facilities. We have the Daughters' wonderful facilities and bookstores here in Manhattan and on Staten Island. We have the Sister Disciples on Staten Island. Again I have been to all of these because I am hoping that maybe some of the goodness and the holiness of this Pauline Family will rub off on me.

My dear friends, all are called to proclaim the Gospel. St. Paul, who was the inspiration of Blessed Alberione, told us in Second Corinthians that we are to be ambassadors for Christ, not one or two of us, not just Paul, not just Timothy and Paul, but everyone who glories in being part of the Body of Christ. It is to be an envoy of the Lord to the world and an ambassador.

As soon as you and I hear this, our first reaction is "Oh great, I'm to be an envoy and an ambassador to the world on behalf of Jesus Christ? I have all I can do to keep the house together, or to keep my job or to struggle through life."

Our first reading today was from Jeremiah. In the first chapter of Jeremiah we have one of the most famous statements in all of scripture. This is the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah. The Lord told him he was anointing him and sending him forth to be a prophet and an ambassador and an envoy. Jeremiah said, "Uh-uh, Lord, I am nothing but a child. I don't even know how to speak." The Lord said, "I'll put the words in your mouth. Get to it!"

And he is saying that to every ambassador of Jesus Christ. You can speak in a thousand ways. You can tell your friends, your acquaintances, your co-workers what you believe and why. You can tell them that you are committed to Jesus Christ and what this means to you and what it has achieved in your life. No "uh-uh, Lord, I am a child and cannot speak," but rather "I believe in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I announce him in words and I announce him in actions." My dear friends, if we could only get a hold of that last.

If you and I were to leave this packed cathedral this morning and go out in the world and live as women and men who are committed to justice in season and out of season, who never damage the rights of another, who never take away the good name of another, who are fiercely just, who would be men and women of unconditioned compassion, then every human being who crosses our path would be seen as an image of God for whom God has died. Anyone who is hurting could trust that we would hurt as well and come to his or her assistance.

If we went out of this cathedral this morning, not only just and compassionate, but also as women and men of honor to speak the truth in and out of season and never counted the cost, as women and men whose hearts are clean no matter how unclean the world may seem to be, then you and I would be ambassadors of Jesus Christ. Indeed it would be God speaking in us. Everyone — not just the priests, brothers, sisters or lay associates of the Pauline Family — but each and every one of us has been called to be a Don Alberione.

In our Gospel this morning the Lord tells us to be vigilant. There are many things about which we can be vigilant. One might be the opportunities that come into our lives to tell the world of Jesus Christ in words and to tell the world of Jesus Christ by living Jesus Christ — that's being an ambassador! If Blessed Giacomo James Alberione has any message for us this morning I suspect it is to tell the world of the Lord and do it in the most modern effective way you can just as I have taught thousands and thousands to do it.

Let me end this way. I told you that I lived a good part of my life in Italy — almost 23 years. I was ordained by Archbishop Martin J. O'Connor who was the rector of the Pontifical North American College and shortly after ordination I went back and I taught in the seminary under Archbishop Martin J. O'Connor. Just before the beginning of the Second Vatican Council the world and especially the Catholic world was becoming aware of the importance of the media of social communications. And so it was decided that the first document of the Second Vatican Council would be a document telling us to be ambassadors of Jesus Christ to the world in the most modern and up-to-date method possible. The first document of the Second Vatican Council was really to be the message of Blessed Alberione. The man who wrote that first message, that first document, was Archbishop Martin O'Connor. He was the head of the committee. I lived with him for nine years. He was very aware of the achievements of the Pauline Family. The achievements of the Pauline Family were in many ways the model of the first document of the Second Vatican Council that had the Latin word Inter Mirifica.

So that is the first brush I had with the Pauline Family. The second is this: from 1972 - 1985 I used to attend to a lovely Italian parish on weekends in Rome. Every Sunday we distributed the publications of the Pauline Fathers and Pauline Sisters — Famiglia Cristiana and so many others. I used to tell them it is only 100 lire or 16 cents for the best magazine in Italy. All the sisters are smiling and so are the fathers. I was a very good advertisement for you at a big parish. I knew the good it did for all of us. Pauline fathers, sisters and brothers know how to address every segment of society — housewife, the laboring man, the high school student and all of their publications were used by me when I was in charge of the parish.

Shortly after the tragedy of 9-11 here in New York, I was down in lower Manhattan to bless a new bookstore — a new bookstore that had been open with the greatest of promise before the tragedy, before the crime of 9-11 — but it has had to face a lot of difficulties in that very distressed part of our city. Nonetheless with Blessed Alberione showing the way I say to the priests and the brothers and the sisters and the lay associates — hang in there as ambassadors for Jesus Christ. Never say for one minute "uh-uh, I cannot speak" but rather be ever vigilant as to when to speak and what to say.

We congratulate them, we thank them, this Pauline Family, for coming here this morning and we beg the Lord that their presence will remind each and every one of us that when we leave this cathedral today we are ambassadors of Jesus Christ. O Blessed Alberione make us worthy ambassadors as you were.

Cardinal Egan


What Took Place

Some highlights of the event are as follows

-The bulletin read:
We welcome to the 10:15 Mass the members of the religious congregation of the Pauline Family, their friends and benefactors as they celebrate the recent beatification of their founder Blessed James Alberione.
- four busses picked up attendees at the Society of St. Paul on Staten Island.
- over 600 people attended the Mass and about 450 attended the reception.
- everyone received a scarf from Rome to wear during the Mass - so we stood out!
- Sr Anne Joan cantered for the Mass
- The FSP choir sang in the choir loft.
- The Society of St. Paul con-celebrated with Cardinal Egan
- The Cathedral reserved the seats front and middle for us.
- Members of the Pauline Family proclaimed the readings
- The reception was a dinner held at the Cathedral Hall
- People attended from New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Virginia and Boston.
- The Cardinal joined us for a few minutes at the reception
- The reception went until 3 P.M.
 

 

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