Jun 3, 2023 filed under Courage, Trust.

Thecla Merlo

On the Feast of the Holy Trinity in 1961, Venerable Thecla Merlo (1994-1964), co-foundress and Superior General of the Daughters of St. Paul, offered her life in a special way that all her sisters might become saints. She died three years later at age 70.

We don’t think of religious superiors as being businesswomen, but because they manage the money, recruitment, training, and well-being of the community; deal with personnel issues and see to the upkeep of their buildings, we can learn from them about putting God first amidst the demands of keeping an enterprise thriving.

How did she do it?
Her co-founder, Blessed James Alberione, set the tone by spending four hours in adoration every morning. When a sister would come to him to complain of the lack of time to do her work, he would ask her to add a half hour to her prayer time (prayer pro-tip!)

Mother Thecla was also able to keep her peace — her trust in God — at every moment because she prayed.

Profile in courage
Picture this: the daughters of St. Paul were established to spread the Gospel via books and other media. In the early part of the last century, Fr. Alberione would tell a few sisters that he was sending them in a week from their native Italy to, say, Argentina, to start a new community. Mother Thecla would have to scramble to find money and provisions to send with them.

As difficult and hair-raising as these moves were, their trust in God’s providence was never disappointed. Thecla herself made more than one trip around the world to visit and encourage her sisters. And the early years of the Order were plagued by two World Wars.

In one incident, the sisters who had been sent to the Philippines reported that the massive new paper cutter they had ordered had sunk to the bottom of the sea due to the clumsiness of the stevedores. Thecla wrote them back: “Why get so upset? It is less of a misfortune than a venial sin.”

Another time, Thecla was staying with Dominican nuns on a visit to Australia. One sister said, “But you must be in charge of almost a thousand nuns and have more than a hundred houses to visit! You poor woman! What problems you must have!” Mother Thecla smiled and answered, “Really, I don’t do a thing. It’s all the work of the good Lord; I just put my trust in him. But please pray for me, all of you.”

Thecla Merlo on phone

Where did her courage come from?
Prayer, plain and simple. I love her because she makes me think if she can do it, so can I.

I recommend her biography. I’ve read it more than once for the inspiration it gives me to stay peaceful inside, even when things blow up at work: https://www.amazon.com/Thecla-Merlo-Messenger-Good-News/dp/0819873764

Love always,
P.S. Prayer is the foundation of successful work. If you’d like to take your prayer life to the next level (or even find time for it!), I’d love to chat with you to see if and how I can help you build a prayer life that abundantly supports your life and work — and gives you the peace that Ven. Thecla knew: https://calendly.com/vir2connection/chat-with-rose


Photo: https://www.paoline.org/who-we-are/venerable-thecla-merlo


6 Responses to “What Radical Trust Looks Like: Ven. Thecla Merlo”

  1. Rose M Galaviz

    Thank you ROSE, for sharing, Ven, Thecla, yes it would be someone I like read more. I am going through a great deal of life changing and praying is one them. Some time I feel I don’t sleep enough. I am trying to learn to listen to the voice of God. Need prayer with patience

  2. Kathy DiCiurcio

    Thank you for sharing Rose. What an amazing woman. I am working on trusting God more completely.

  3. Mary Alice Ruiz

    Thank you friend r sharing. Since the death of my husband 2 1/2 years ago. I have been asking in prayer for God’s perfect day vWill for me now as a widow. Prayer time for me has been abundant lately and does give me peace of mind instead of being lonely after 61 years of a blessed marriage. . Your messages like this one blesses me a lot.
    Thank you.

  4. Diane Isabelle

    Great posting, Rose. Love that roof garden!

  5. Sharon

    Just read a story about Father James. I ordered the book! And I could not make it in my job with out praying and reading the scriptures every morning before work….it’s become such a habit, I miss it if I don’t do it, and I can hardly wait to hear what the Lord is going to say to me each day through his words in the scriptures, He is amazing and so full of love, mercy, kindness and compassion….if only I could be like Him!

  6. Tom Roberts

    As a caregiver half an hour of prayer was usually out of reach; but with practice half a minute can work well. You’d be surprised!