WHO WE ARE
The Society of St. Paul (CSP) is a community born in the Diocese of Milan by the spirit of Blessed Archbishop Cardinal Andrea Carlo Ferrari, founded by Don Giovanni Rossi, composed of lay people and priests who, animated by the spirit of charity and universal burning of St. Paul , seeking to live out their total gift of self to God, participating in a proper and differentiated in the salvific mission of the Church in the world. Recognized as a Secular Institute divided into two sections, the Company is governed by this Constitution and laws of the Church to Secular Institutes.
The Society of Saint Paul was born in 1920 in the Diocese of Milan according to the instructions given by Blessed Cardinal Andrea Carlo Ferrari and on the initiative of his secretary Don Giovanni Rossi. The first nucleus of the Society is composed of lay people and priests who are entirely and steadfastly dedicated to the apostolate with the task of creating social works and bringing people closer to the faith.
In the early years, the Society moves within the experience of Catholic Action, but already in 1924, the Community, having assumed an ever-increasing identity, becomes a Religious Congregation directly dependent on the Holy See.
Within a decade, the Society of St. Paul meets remarkable membership and knows a great deal of development. Don Giovanni Rossi, who at that time led the Company, made innovative choices concerning the social aspects of life. Professional schools, a youth culture circle, a library, a cinema, an economic chapel, a secretariat of the people, and a home for mothers are being created. The apostolate of the Society thus translates into a series of initiatives corresponding to the needs of the people, in order to give a Christian impression not only to the individual, but to the whole society. The Society of Sao Paulo begins his experience in organizing pilgrimages and his commitment to publishing and newspaper printing. Meanwhile, the “international dimension” of the Organization expands in Italy in Venice and Genoa, reaches Jerusalem, Paris, then South America (Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, with houses in Buenos Aires, Cordoba, Rosario, Montevideo , Santiago), and finally the United States (Washington, New York).
In order to encourage consensus and adherence to Pauline ideals among the laity, the Cardinal Ferrari Association is working together to develop the social initiatives of the Cardinal Ferrari.
In France, in Paris, the Society carries out an important apostolic work with the “Maison de la Jeunesse”, but the developments of fascism in Italy and the economic crisis of the 1930s and 30s lead to the closure. In 1932, Don Giovanni Rossi resigned and the Company’s management was temporarily assigned to Don Giovanni Penco, which strengthens Pauline action on social initiatives. The Society of Sao Paulo’s program, centered on the social apostolate, is put into crisis by the Fascist regime, which prevents Catholics from being a direct action in society and claims for the social sphere.
During the Second World War, the Company’s commitment focuses on the victims of racial laws, hiding in Milan’s partisan and Jewish homes, and subsequently helping the bombed.
In ’45, Don Antonio Rivolta founded the “Repubblica dei ragazzi” in Civitavecchia (Rome), a village that welcomes children without family and family support, subverting them to the underworld. The end of the war and the reunification of families entails a complex series of psychological, affective and social problems, and Don Paolo Liggeri, who returned from the concentration camps of Dachau, opens in Milan the Istituto La Casa, the first family consultory in Italy.
On June 30, 1950, the Society of Saint Paul obtained from Pope Pius XII the recognition of the Secular Institute, thus reaching the years of the Second Vatican Council which led the religious institutes to revise and update their statutes.
From then on, the Society of St. Paul, in adherence to the spirit of the Council and in the attention to the signs of the times, develops the various works in which it is engaged together with the testimony of all its members in all the places where they operate. The members of the Society start from the awareness that secularism, immersed in times and places of history, is a value entrusted to the testimony of Christians to become a means of sanctification.
Charity of the Society of Saint Paul
The CSP aims to elevate life and individual and social activities at a human level and to animate them with an evangelical spirit. Its members, attentive to the needs and the requests of their contemporaries, work with both communities and individuals, with a spirit of innovation and service following the example of Saint Paul, making themselves all things to all people.