Skip Navigation LinksOur-Story

Called to Proclaim Jesus

Our story runs parallel to the story of the extraordinary development of the media in the  20th century, and to the story of the Church in this period. The Daughters of St Paul began in Northern Italy in 1915, when Fr Alberione first gathered around him a small group of young women and girls whom he prepared to carry out the printing apostolate. He asked Sr Thecla Merlo to be our first Superior General. The faith and guidance of these two remarkable leaders provided the firm foundations of our Order, allowing it grow from strength to strength over the following decades.

Our beginnings were humble. We started out by printing and distributing Bibles and catechisms in a time when the Bible was not well known, nor its prayerful study encouraged among Catholics. The editorial and publishing aspect of our ministry quickly developed and soon afterwards our radio ministry evolved. In time we opened Book Centres so that people could easily find good Christian reading material and resources for their spiritual hunger. 

The criteria for choice of content were always made with the view to promote the human and spiritual growth of the person. In the early 1930s the Sisters began to move out from Italy so that, following the example of St Paul, we could continue our mission in every corner of the Earth. Today, our Sisters can be found on every continent and in 50 different countries. This international aspect of our Order encourages a great love and respect for the diversity among cultures, with an emphasis on inculturation. 

Over the years, our ministry has continued to develop and change as society has also changed. Our Founder encouraged us to learn and make use of the new forms of media as they emerged. This spirit of change and adaptability is essential to the character of the Daughters of St Paul. It gives us a positive outlook on the future and the courage to welcome the challenge of speaking about God in new ways to the people of each new generation.

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

Our Australian Story

The Daughters of St Paul established their first house in  Sydney on 13 May, 1955. From this dwelling in the suburb of Concord, the Sisters began door-to-door visitation of homes, schools and parishes with books. In these early days, the Sisters visited homes in local suburbs and also travelled to many country towns and regions by train, car and on foot, bringing the Gospel to the people of Australia and encouraging them to grow in their Christian life. Forty-five years later, many families still fondly remember these visits and the dedication, energy and enthusiasm of our early Sisters in carrying out their mission. In 1955, Sr Thecla Caruana became the first woman to enter with the Daughters of St Paul in Australia.

Years later a small printing operation was set up in Strathfield and a recording studio was established for the production of audio-talks on topics of personal growth, spirituality, Scripture and Christian formation. In 1962 our Sisters opened the first St Paul Book Centre in a small location next to St Francis Xavier Cathedral in Adelaide. The establishment of our Sydney Book Centre soon followed, and subsequently our Book Centre in East Hawthorn, Victoria, opened to the public.

The Daughters of St Paul celebrated the 60th anniversary of their foundation in Australia on 11 June, 2015.

Our Founder & Co-Foundress

Blessed James Alberione

On 31 December, 1900, during a special night of prayer before the Eucharist, the young seminarian James Alberione felt called and inspired to serve God and the people of the new century.

Following his ordination to the priesthood, Fr Alberione initial inspiration gradually became clearer and, under his direction, a group of young boys began to use the press to spread the Gospel. Their first publication was the Gazzette d'Alba. This marked the birth of the Society of St Paul in 1914.

A year later, a handful of women gathered under his direction and they soon became known as the Daughters of St Paul. Fr Alberione's ideal, like that of St Paul, was universal - all the modern means of communication were to be used so that all people would hear the Gospel. For this extraordinary mission, new apostles were needed who could dedicate themselves entirely to such a service.

By the time of his death in 1971, Fr James Alberione had founded five religious congregations, four lay institutes and the Union of Pauline Cooperators who together make up the Pauline Family.

Fr James Alberione was declared Blessed by John Paul II on 27 April, 2002.

"Here he is, humble, silent, tireless, contained in his thoughts, which flows from prayer to work, always ready to read the signs of the times. Our Father Alberione has given the Church new instruments to express herself, new means to give vigor and new breadth to its apostolic mission… May the Pope, in the name of the whole Church, express its gratitude." (Paul VI, 28 June, 1969)


Venerable Thecla Merlo

Teresa Merlo first met Fr Alberione in 27 June, 1915. She agreed to collaborate with him and to help give life to his apostolic vision. From that time on, with tremendous faith and untiring trust, Teresa, who took the religious name of Thecla, assisted him not only in the foundation and formation of the Daughters of St Paul, but with the other Congregations of the Pauline Family and his many different apostolic works.

Sr Thecla’s example and courage, her intelligent and wise collaboration with Alberione, and her loving guidance of the sisters in her care won her the respect and love of all those who knew her. She died on 5 February, 1964, and the Church proclaimed her "Venerable" on 22 January, 1991.

Sr Thecla was one of the first followers of Fr Alberione and she played a fundamental role in his foundation project. She was one of the first nine young women to make their religious profession of vows in 1922 in the hands of Alberione as Founder of the Institute.

Fr Alberione appointed Maestra Thecla as Superior General of the feminine branch of his '‘house' and, when the foundation received diocesan approval in 1929, she was given the title, 'Prima Maestra' (meaning 'First Teacher').