Sr Elaine of the Daughters of St Paul gives a short testimony on her discernment of vocation.
I was already at high school in my native Scotland when I realised that God really loved me, and this lead me to think about Religious Life for the first time. I just wanted to tell people that a real relationship with God was possible. After considering a few different congregations, working in a hospital, and finishing art college in Dundee, I asked to enter the Daughters of St Paul, where I just felt at home. I had found my place, where I could indeed tell many people about this God who loves each one of us individually.
In the blessing prayer for Religious, the priest prays to God that our “life reveal the face of Christ your Son”. This struck me profoundly when I made my final vows a few years ago... and whether or not I will ever be able to live up to that, I have to believe that God, as they say, can write straight with my crooked lines. Perhaps that prayer found its home in me because it so closely resonates in our Pauline spirituality. We take St Paul as our model, and, like Paul, our spirituality finds its power in Christ, in his teaching, his life and example. By this we are challenged to follow Jesus as completely as possible and we hope to conform ourselves to Christ, who is “the Way, the Truth and the Life” (Jn, 14:6).
The Pauline family consists of 11 different institutes, embracing every kind of Christian vocation from contemplative Religious to married couples with families. The Daughters of St Paul are an international congregation of Religious Sisters, often known as the ‘Pauline Sisters’ perhaps because of our apostolic work in our book centres, Pauline Books and Media. Here in London you will find us in Kensington High Street, but we also have communities near Slough, in Liverpool and in Glasgow, as well as in 52 countries throughout the world. We live, work and pray in community, for the sake of the mission. Our relationship to St Paul came to us early in our congregation’s history, when people started calling us by that name as we had adopted St Paul as our patron. Our founder, Blessed James Alberione, said St Paul was our real founder. We believe that if St Paul were alive today, he would be using the most effective means to bring the Gospel message to as many people as possible, which is why we try to use the means of mass communication in our mission: to reach as many people as possible. We write, as St Paul did, we work with TV and radio in many countries, we publish and distribute books, posters, DVD’s and music... all so that Christ may be better known.
Some people find it unusual that Sisters should be working in a bookshop, or wonder why so much training is necessary to carry out this mission. For us, the book centre is a privileged place to meet many different kinds of people, and a challenge to serve them all in a way that is particular to each one of them. To come into the book centre, you don’t need to belong to a church, or even the Christian faith, or fit into any other criteria... people come to us with their hopes and fears, their questions and thanksgiving, and quite often, seemingly ‘by chance’. I hope that everyone who comes through our book centre is touched in some small way by the Holy Spirit and that Christ is, somehow, known a little better.
You can contact Sr Elaine at Daughtersofstpaul@gmail.com.
See also www.pauline-uk.org