One day a holy card of Pauline Marie Jaricot was sent to Dickinson by a member. This card contained the name and address of the Secretariat of Pauline’s work and cause in Lyon, France. We wrote at once to share with this office the revival of the Living Rosary in Texas. Father offered us much good encouragement. Through the years we kept Father Naidenoff abreast of the work, its growth; the joys as well as the trials. In 1988, Father sent to us a First Class relic of Venn. Pauline Marie Jaricot which contained this inscription: "You will find with this letter a precious relic of Venn. Pauline Marie Jaricot. Until now, NO ONE has ever received a relic of Pauline; you are the first and only ones. Guard it as a great treasure!" The words Father wrote to us through our years we were, indeed, doing the work of Pauline: "Pauline will help you from above; May God and Our Immaculate Mother give you the strength to struggle against the difficulties and crosses with the same energy and uprightness of our saintly friend, Pauline Marie; I encourage you in your beautiful work; the Living Rosary, of which you are the animator, is blessed by God; My Mass on the feast of Pentecost is special for me as it is my assigned mystery in the Association; May you be given the health to continue with magnificent courage, your spiritual combat."
In 1994 Georges Naidenoff suffered a stroke and was partially paralyzed. This ended the beautiful labor in which Father had been engaged of compiling and editing the complete life and works of Pauline on the basis of 25,000 pages of written material. With profound patience and love he now embraces his life of suffering and total dependence. During that time through the help of his dear secretary and friend, Simone Boudoin he wrote to us: "We are constantly astonished by the growth of the Living Rosary; You walk in the footsteps of Pauline who must be very pleased with you; We are so happy that many people pray to Pauline Jaricot through the Living Rosary because she is entirely forgotten by her beloved France; We express again our deep affection for you and our union with you in prayer; Your two important letters were received by Father with much joy and which made us realize the difficulties you encounter for the development of the Living Rosary in your country and in the world."
Father was a man of few words, but his direction and support to us came straight from the heart of Pauline! Thanks be to God I had taken time to share with Father news and photos of Pauline’s Press and the scope of her work just shortly before his last letter arrived.
"Today, I write to you after the departure of Georges Naidenoff for Heaven. Three years and four months of paralysis and 11 days of Calvary at the hospital, Hotel-Dieu where Pauline used to visit the sick. Towards 7:00 a.m. on August 19, the feast of St. John Eudes, He departed this world and was laid to rest on August 22nd, Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary! These are several lines dedicated by the PÉre a few days before his death."
"Dear Patti, I was able to read your last letter, so confiding, so simple, so near to God. Your letter is to me a very precious celestial souvenir."
It seems to me that this was Father’s last will and testament to me, and through me, to all of you members, in which he imparted his blessing to us, which is and always was for us, the very blessing of the heart of Pauline! From his place close to God, he is surely praying for each and every one of us, his family. Let us with fervor and perseverance, remember our dear Father Naidenoff. May he rest in Peace.
I have fought the good fight,
I have finished the race…
I have kept the faith
Pere Naidenoff spoke little of his difficult childhood. He was born in Odessa in 1910, to a Russian Father and a French mother. In 1912, he visited his mother’s family in France, and in 1919 he went to France with his mother to live there permanently. Georges and his mother lived for a time in a refuge camp near Voreppe. Then, they moved to the Parisian area.
In Secondary School, the priest encouraged Georges to attend a Catholic private school in Lisieux. It was here, at the age of 12, convalescing from an appendectomy that someone put into his hand the book, "Story of a Soul" by St. Therese of Lisieux. This was at a time that she was not yet beatified. The book revealed the depth and scope of God's love for him. Georges liked to speak of this experience as his ‘conversion'.
At the end of the Petit Seminary, his spiritual director suggested a novitiate in the Order of the Jesuits, he entered in 1931. During the 40 years which followed, the name of Pere Naidenoff would be associated with the magazine MISSI. (Magazine d'Information Spiritualle et de Solidarite Internationale).
This Magazine showed the Christian view of the world. Many issues were focused on a specific country; one finds precise information on the history, geography, economy, and the culture of the country, and of course on the place and role of the Church in that specific country. The photographs, as well as the articles give an impression of the country and its peoples which brought forth their most positive aspects for the reader. In order to achieve this, Pere Naidenoff looked for the best sources for his information and endeavored to communicate with local writers so that he could follow the current events of the country.
Pere Naidenoff had the soul and the competence of a professional journalist. One admired the quality of his writing and editing, the choice of photographs and the skillful way they were laid out on the page. Pere Naidenoff did not turn down the chance to see places for himself. Two voyages are noteworthy: the first to Vietnam (under Bao-Dai), the second to Bulgaria (while still under the Iron Curtain).
His work as a journalist and as director of the magazine left him little time for other things. One sees, however, that, until 1970, he assumed the role of the Director of "Ad Lucem" a charitable society for the laity who wished to devote their lives to the missions. Father was not a "satelitte" distant from his community; he was near them, and when they asked things of him his reply was always without hesitation, "YES"! When Fr. Madelin, Provincial of France, envisioned putting a book together commemorating the Ignatian anniversaries, which would be attractive, well illustrated and easy to read, he turned to the journalistic talent of Pere Naidenoff. The realization of this project took much time and work, and the first issues of "Jesuites" came out by the end of 1983. In his announcement of the book to the Press, he said simply that the request by the Order to do the work pleased him very much.
In 1986, Father stepped down as Director and Editor-in-Chief of the MISSI. The last issue of the MISSI was in 1991. But the team of collaborators kept the title and the spirit of the original magazine and, in 1992, with more modest means, "Missi Synthese" came out. Even when no longer with the MISSI, Pere Naidenoff would remain a writer almost to the end of his life. In 1986, the very year the Living Rosary was revived in Dickinson, Texas, Father published ‘The Life of Pauline ]aricot’ with a preface by the Cardinal DeDourtray. At the same time he diligently began work on an exhaustive biography of Pauline ]aricot. All the archives were placed at his disposal. Until illness interrupted his work in 1995, more than 500 pages of the manuscript had already been typed. He then went to Chauderaie. Father suffered a stroke and was paralyzed in the limbs of his right side. His speech was affected as well. He never again was able to hold a pen or pencil, to continue his work. This never affected his morale or his sweet manner. Even though loyal friends often visited him, he was left alone for long periods, yet he suffered patiently and never complained.
When at his communal meals, he would communicate in a loud voice without the ability of inflection, but with a jovial tone, he happily called out to others with a jest, or a dialogue punctuated with "Ah, ah", accompanied by a mischievous smile. The manner in which he expressed himself revealed a lucid mind at peace with the diminished state in which he found himself. It was in this way he was found ready when the Lord called him to Himself.
"Well done, good and faithful servant of God!"
Patti Melvin, Director
Universal Living Rosary Association
P.O. Box 1303, Dickinson, Texas 77539, U.S.A.
Fax: (281) 337-3722 / (281) 309-9821