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.”
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
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