Volume > Issue > A New Women's Religious Congregation Devoted to Evangelization

A New Women’s Religious Congregation Devoted to Evangelization

TAKING THE GOSPEL TO THE STREETS

By Dolores H. Fischer | October 1998
Dolores H. Fischer is a retired teacher of English and Spanish at Napa Valley College in California.

“Would you consider becoming a saint?”

Twenty years ago in Napa, California, a visiting priest from Italy spoke these words to 19-year-old Susan Pieper, a lively, intelligent, witty, and attractive girl planning to attend college and find a career. Father Salvatore Scorza’s question — a challenge really — shocked her.

Today she is Sister Susan Pieper, founder and mother superior in Rome of a community of sisters dedicated to helping souls find salvation and achieve sanctity. She and 13 other consecrated women work as did the Apostles, going directly to those in need of Christ and His Church. They speak to people on the streets and university campuses; they preach missions; they counsel, acting as spiritual advisors both to laity and Religious. Attempting to relate closely to modern youth and avoid the anticlerical sentiments often rudely expressed toward Religious in Rome, they dress in simple street clothes and speak clearly about God’s grace, modern temptations, the lack of devotion to God, and the necessity to save one’s soul. Thus emulating the Apostles, their community is appropriately called the Apostles of the Interior Life (Apostole della Vita Interiore).

All this came about because 20 years ago Susan, struck by the priest’s words, decided she must, through prayer and meditation, discover God’s will for her life. She said recently, “A whole new world opened up to me with Father’s words. I’d always thought sanctity was for a few chosen people, but he said sanctity can and should be for all.” Deeply influenced by Fr. Scorza’s remark, and seeking a Catholic education, Susan began college at Notre Dame in Belmont, California, in 1977. While there she incorporated the priest’s challenge into her own life plan — to form a community of sisters who would be evangelists and spiritual counselors. To her knowledge no Religious group dedicated itself solely to these pursuits.

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