Ex Pastorelle Sister Speaks Out

Dressed as a Nun at 14

                    Madre Celina Orsini
 First Superipor general of the Pastorelle Sisters writes in her own words
On the occasion of the Beatification of venerable James Alberione .

Il primo incontro  The first encounter

I met the venerable James Alberione, our Founder and Father, for the first time at Genzano, Rome, in September 1940. he was 56 years old and I was 12.
He was preaching a Spiritual Retreat for a small group of Pastorelle Sisters at which I was present only in part because I had recently entered the Congregation and they did not want to tire me.
I was disappointed not being allowed to hera all of the sermons preached by this Man of God, because his words penetrated deep into my soul, gave me much joy and made me feel content.

An indelible memory

I had been impressed immediately by his person: fragile in body, always with his head bowed, as if in constant reverence, as if he could see the invisible realm. Over the next thirty years, each encounter with Venerable James Alberione was, for me an experience of  meeting God himself.
He mirrored God, he made God's presence felt by his own presence and by how he acted.
I still carry this experience with me as if it is a precious inheritance. 

Receiving the religious habit

On 15th August 1942, five postulants in the community of Genzano received the religious habit; I was not admitted because I was only 14.
Towards the end of August, the Venerable Father Alberione asked the Superior why I had not been admitted to receive the habit; he was told I was too young and that my parents would not be at all pleased. Decisively he replied: "Tell them nothing for now, on 30th August I will come and perform the ceremony."
In this way, together with Sr. Franca Bartolini, we both received from the hands of the Founder the habit that "He"(capitals as if referering to God) himself had blessed. We were happy and grateful for having been given this special grace. 

The First Master asks for a sign from God 

For me, calling the Venerable Alberione "First Master" (Primo Maestro) is spontaneous and familiar like a child, a daughter using the word "Daddy".
In 1950, four Pastorelle Sisters, ( Giacomina cardenti, Giuseppina Corner, Claudia da Sois and Celina Orsini (myself), in accordance with the wishes of The First Master, sat for the Teacher's exam.
We'd studied day and night to squeeze the material of a four years course into 12 months. It was no easy. Our faith and courage came from the knowledge that we were blessed by holy obedience towards our Founder. He came himself to bring us the news that we had passed our exam.
He was supposed to be preaching at a Retreat for another group of sisters at the main house at Albano. He arrived there late and gave as his excuse: "I am late because I was waiting to get the results of the exams - everyone passed. I had asked Jesus Good Shepherd for a sign that the Institute Pastorelle Sisters was growing in accordance with God's Will - that everyone passed their exams. Let us all give fervent and joyful thanks for this reassurance of your vocation."
 The responsibility he gave me

Before he entrusted to me the government of the Congregation in 1953, Venerable Father James Alberione had just completed a Spiritual Retreat. he had travelled from Galloro and stayed at Albano. He spoke to me personally with the kindness of a father and he confided that he was concerned about having interpreted what he believed was God's Will made manifest to him during the those special days of prayer.

He said to me: "Jesus Good  Shepherd wants to entrust the Pastorelle Sisters to you, do you have faith? Do you love Jesus Good Shepherd? Do you have any problems with this?"

I replied simply" "Yes I have faith and I love Jesus Good Shepherd, if I have to do what He wants and obey in this, I have no problems, but if I think about myself I have all the problems in the world." He replied: "Then put 'no' problems in place of 'all' the problems'

I reminded him that I was too young, and he, with a big smile said: "If you live you will grow out of this impediment."  I was 27 at the time. As I write this I am now 75 and I think I have grown out of the impediment of being too young.

I've always regarded our Founder as a living saint of modern times.

My personal experience reminds me that he challenged the young. He would have them rise above their inexperience, their fear and their limitations. He gave me much responsibility when I was young and I have done my best not to disappoint.

 James Alberione had a spoecial way with young people, a way of almost bedazzling them by givein ghem responsibilities far beyound their experience and learning...I like to call it 'throwing young people in at the deep end' and having great expectations of them'.

I lived like that whilst a trainee in Italy, always faced with "obediences" - jobs to do that I knew nothing about, was not trained for and was required to carry out as if I had all the training and experience in the world...it was called "having faith in God's Will"!   If it involved other people it would have been considered as deception and conning people or posing as something we were not - misrepresenting ourselves....fraud...that was doing God's Will!

Alberione had a way of convincing you with a smile that all was possible for those who had faith!

I called it being too scared to fail!

FEAR, the worst kind of psychological abuse. FEAR! Every day living in fear that God would strike me down for not having enough faith...and we were supposed to be happy and carefree whilst our hearts were pounding, our brows were perspiring, our hands were trembling and our legs were jelly.

I often felt I would die of FEAR.




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