The co-founder with Bl. Jospeh Alberione of the Daughters of St. Paul, VENERABLE TECLA (TERESA) MERIO was born in Castagnito d'Alba in 1894. The daughter of peasants she asked to join the Sisters of Cottolengo of Turin, but was not deemed suitable for health reasons.
Teresa Merlo met Father Alberione (BLOG) in the
and Damian in 1915. The
meeting had been arranged by her brother, who was a seminarian at the time.
Father Alberione had already heard of Teresa’s desire to be a religious. He
invited her to join the group of young women he was forming at Alba with the
aim of one day founding a feminine congregation dedicated to the apostolate of
the press. This community would complement the Society of St. Paul, the
congregation of men which he had started a year before. With great faith,
Teresa said “yes.” church of Sts. Cosmas
In 1918, the women were invited by Father Alberione to move to the small city of
and take charge of
the diocesan newspaper. He explained that this would involve the direction,
composition, and printing of the paper; the women would learn the typographical
skills from their brothers in the Society of St. Paul. The women named their
little workshop the “St. Paul Typography” and placed it under the great
Apostle’s patronage. Soon the group began to be called the Daughters of St. Paul. Susa
Four years later, the first nine members of the Daughters of St. Paul were allowed to make their perpetual profession of religious vows. Twenty-eight-year-old Teresa Merlo took the name Thecla, in honor of St. Thecla, the early follower of Paul. Bl. Thecla
|With Father Alberione|
The difficulties which the sisters encountered from society and from the Church’s hierarchy were immense. No one had ever heard of women religious operating printing presses and composing books and newspapers.
With tremendous vision and trust in God’s will for this new form of apostolate, the little group continued to grow and develop. Under Mother Thecla’s guidance, the fledgling community expanded to twenty-five communities in
Italy and established new foundations in Brazil, Argentina,
and the . United States
Mother Thecla remained Mother General until her death in 1964. During her lifetime she traveled around the world, and under her direction the Daughters of St. Paul established themselves in every continent.
Mother Thecla once wrote: “The power idea that must animate us is the thought of souls. This thought must spur us on. We must be concerned about how we are to reach people and bring them the word of truth and salvation. How many souls never hear of God! Who will help them?”
Mother Thecla was a woman both of her time and ahead of her time. She had a singular desire to reach the people of her day with the word of truth and salvation. And she courageously led the Daughters of St. Paul to the forefront of evangelization with each new form of media as it was developed. Embracing the press, radio, film, and TV, she wrote: “Our Congregation will always be young, because it will make use of every new means to do good.”