Who knew that joining the Pauline family would inspire my own?

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May is a big month for our family. Four of the five of us have birthdays. All three kids were baptized in May. There’s Mother’s Day, and of course it’s a month in which the Church dedicates to Mary, and during which we celebrate the feasts of Our Lady of Fatima and the Visitation.

It now holds another special place in our hearts, for on May 28, the baptism anniversary of our two oldest and my confirmation anniversary, my husband and I entered into the lay apostolate of the Pauline family, the Pauline Cooperators.

What’s a Pauline Cooperator, you might ask? Well, l would be happy to tell you. Pauline Cooperators were founded by Blessed James Alberione, an Italian priest with great vision and even greater faith, who founded 10 institutes total, including the Daughters of St. Paul, who you might know as those joyful #medianuns from social media, or from their brick and mortar bookstores.

Pauline Cooperators are laypeople living in the world who pledge to use their gifts, talents and energy to share Christ with the world through the means of social communications. For Michael and me, and the work we do, it was a natural fit.

In the spirit of St. Paul, under the gaze of Mary, Queen of Apostles, cooperators seek to “live and give” Jesus Master, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, with the goal that we might one day proclaim, as did St. Paul, that it is “no longer I, but Christ lives in me.”

And we do this while committing ourselves to being fortified in the spiritual life by reading sacred Scripture and by the Eucharist.

It’s a major commitment, and we spent nearly two years in formation preparing for it. Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend kindly received our promises at the end of Mass on Pentecost Sunday, and it truly was a joyous occasion. It was made all the more special by the fact that two Pauline sisters, Sister Nancy Usselmann and Sister Marie James Hunt, traveled from Los Angeles to witness our promises. We spent Memorial Day playing kickball with them in the backyard, playing card games and making crafts. It was as awesome as it sounds.

Modeling the Faith

As we prepared to become Pauline Cooperators, something else was happening in our home. Our kids were taking note. They knew we met monthly, and they sometimes were allowed to sit quietly and listen. They participated with us in praying virtual novenas with other members of the Pauline family, and they took note that our prayers were sounding a little different at the end of the day. Jesus Master, Way, Truth and Life, have mercy on us.

As we were making final plans to make our promises, our now 6-year-old suddenly declared that he, too, would join us in making his own promises to become a Pauline Cooperator — and, because his sister is never far behind, she also decided she was in. Our son started plotting how he would sneak up to the sanctuary, without us noticing, to accomplish his goal. These days, if it’s a covert mission, he’s all in.

Capitalizing on their interest, they started making their own preparations — for Joseph, it was to enroll in the Brown Scapular Confraternity, so he could wear a scapular like his dad; for Anne, it was to start wearing a Miraculous Medal, like her mom.

So after Mass, when everyone had cleared out of the cathedral, Bishop Rhoades came back to our family. He blessed a little scapular and a tiny Miraculous Medal, and the kids also began a new phase in their own burgeoning spiritual lives. They were bursting with pride, and, other than to take baths, they haven’t taken them off in more than 10 days — nor do they seem to want to. It’s really been rather amazing.

Worthy examples

Our Pentecost Sunday truly was Spirit-filled. It also served as an important reminder of the powerful influence we have over our children — in things said and unsaid. For a short period of time, anyways, they desire to be like us, and they will follow in our footsteps, be they good, bad or ugly.

It never occurred to me that, seeing me wear a Miraculous Medal every day, my daughter would desire to do the same. It never occurred to me that, at only 6, my son would desire to wear a scapular like his father. In the little things that we do every day, they are noticing. It’s my prayer every day that our examples prove worthy.

Gretchen R. Crowe

Gretchen R. Crowe is the editor-in-chief of OSV News.