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Untitled 1A mosaic of Icelandic martyred Bp. Jón Arason (c. 1484-1550) In an issue of "The Catholic Missions," an interesting article, entitled "Scandinavia and Baltic Countries," describes the vicissitudes of the Church in the land of the Norsemen, from the days of the Vikings, through the sad period of the Reformation, down to the present day. The author, Viggo F. Rambush, President of St. Ansgar's Scandinavian Catholic League in New York, in the limited space of a magazine article could do no more than trace this history in its larger lines.

Called to Ministry in Norway

The subject, however, is of more than passing interest to the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette, for Norway was their first foreign mission field. A few months before the Holy See had set her approval on the Community, raising it from its diocesan status to that of a religious Congregation of pontifical right, the Congregation of the Propaganda had already, by a decree dated March 6th, 1879, confided to the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette under the leadership of Monsignor Bernard, the evangelization of Norway and Lapland.

A Time of Violent Persecution of Catholics

No mission could have been more difficult for the young and struggling Community, since, to climatic hardships there was added the hostility of the greater part of the people who resented what they considered foreign intrusion. In the days of the Reformation, Lutheranism had been established by violence as the national religion and was strongly entrenched in the hearts of the people. Craft and force brought about the victory of Protestanism so rapidly and so completely that in 1550 Jon Arason, the last Bishop of Holar, in Iceland, was executed for his beliefs and died a martyr . . .

For centuries Norway remained as sealed to the Catholic Faith as Thibet. It was only in the nineteenth century that all "dissenters" (including Catholics who had come into the country) were released from control of the Lutheran State Church. The Catholic Church had waited long. At once, as soon as the doors of Norway were ajar to her, she recommenced her age-long struggle for people's souls. . . . "The first priests to settle in the country in recent years (1859)," continues “The Catholic Missions”, "were Frenchmen, the Abbés Bernard and Baudoin."

Challenges for Fr. Bernard Bernard

Father Bernard Bernard, one of the first missionaries of the North Pole region was appointed Prefect Apostolic of Norway and Lapland in 1862. He established his official residence at Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, and thence was accustomed to set out on his mission tours to all parts of this great and desolate field.

On August 14th, 1937, Father Philip J. Gardner (1905-1942), Missionary of Our Lady of La Salette, bade fond farewell to home and country, and set sail from New York, one of a pioneer mission band of five, whose destination was far away Burma (now Myanmar).

A Sad Passing and Too Soon…

Untitled 1Fr. Philip J. Gardner, M.S. (1905-1942), Missionary to Burma
Eight years to the day after departure, another scene, mournful yet hallowed with resigned faith, was enacted in the Church of St. Theresa, Manchester, New Hampshire. Religious confreres, parents and friends, mindful of Father Gardner's heroic sacrifice at the hands of Burmese bandits, attended the Pro-Burial Mass which was being offered to his revered memory. A message from His Excellency, the Most Rev. Timothy Crowley, C.S.C., Bishop of Dacca, Bengal, India, had officially confirmed the report of Father's tragic passing, more than three years ago, in the early days of Japanese conquest in the Far East.

Death came to the young missionary some five years after he had set foot in Burma and begun his strenuous work among a benighted people. Few yet fruitful had been these brief years in the darksome land of pagodas. The sudden closing of a promising missionary career brought a crowning glory to Father Gardner's cherished dream – that of laying down his life for his people. Blessed was he with the words of the Master, "Well done", as he appeared before him to report "Mission Completed".

An Unfortunate Situation

The sad Odyssey of Father Gardner's death trek began in Mandalay, in central Burma. When he learned that the storm of war was approaching his favorite mission in Prome District, he bravely set out with his companion, Father Joseph A. Proulx, M.S., to make his way back to one of his Catholic Chin villages near Prome.

Untitled 1The Chapel and Grounds for the Augustinian Sisters in Morlaix, FranceThis place became a meeting place for the Laity Salettins of the West. Together with Sister Anne-Marie and another sister, regularly four times a year, the group prays, reads and shares its experience in community, in light of the Gospel and the Great News entrusted by the Beautiful Lady. It is in this rereading that the life of laity and religious sisters finds breath and is excited by the mission entrusted to them by Mary: "Make this message known to all my people."

 

The eldest daughter of La Salette

By the concluding days of 1846, the Great News of the event of La Salette found a special resonance at Morlaix among the Augustinian Sisters of the Mercy of Jesus. In her message the sisters immediately discovered a God who, through Mary, came to tell the world not about God’s vengeance toward the sinner, but of God’s infinite mercy. The Beautiful Lady confirmed "her people" in her ability to pray for change – "if they convert..."

 

Augustinian Sisters of La Salette

In 1834 the first community of the Augustinian Sisters of the Mercy of Jesus arrived in the area of Morlaix (Saint Martin des Champs), France. They managed a hospital and boarding school, carrying out by their ministry as caregivers their mission to testify to all of the Mercy of God.

Habari! Greetings from Tanzania!


Untitled-1A gathering of concelebrants for MassWe would like to give you some news from here in Tanzania since our Superior General, Fr. Silvano Mrisa, M.S., left on July 24, 2016. In our first month here, some of the diocesan clergy who were not able to attend the inauguration on the July 17th were coming to visit us and to personally welcome us into the Bukoba Diocese. We experienced the warm welcome from every priest that we met here as well as from the religious (women) in the diocese.

Our parish is composed of 43 Small Christian Communities from the 15 villages entrusted to our care. For now, we already visited some of the villages and celebrated Mass there but we are not yet visited half of them. We have 3 sub-stations, including the Parish Center.

Here are some of the highlights of our stay here:

Untitled-1The Weeping Mother by the French artist, ArcabasWe are reminded in the La Salette Rule of Life that: “Invoked under the title of Our Lady of La Salette, Reconciler of Sinners, Mary is the Patroness of the Congregation. The anniversary of her Apparition is celebrated with solemnity by all the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette.” (Rule of Life, 2cp)

Pope Francis also recites again the marvelous qualities of God: “Throughout the history of humanity, God will always be the One who is present, near, provident, holy and merciful” (Misericordiae Vultus, #6)…

 

Our Merciful Mother of La Salette

 

. . . for 170 years the Beautiful Lady’s message of reconciliation and of mercy has resounded throughout the Church and the world, thanks above all to the witnessing of the shepherds, Maximin and Melanie, and that of the Missionaries and Sisters of La Salette who have accepted this heritage; as well as the witnessing of so many faithful laity – men and women who have embraced and appropriated for themselves this charism of the Apparition.

This is truly a significant host of persons who have been touched by the tears of the Virgin, and who have not hesitated, throughout these years, to commit themselves in their journey of personal and community faith, to announcing and spreading the Gospel in light of what has transpired on the Mountain of La Salette September 19, 1846.

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La Salette Missionaries, Province of Mary, Mother of the Americas

Our Community: The Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette are deeply rooted in the Apparition of Our Lady of La Salette which occurred near the hamlet of La Salette in southeastern France on Sept. 19, 1846. The Missionaries were founded in 1852 by Bp. Philbert de Bruillard, Bishop of Grenoble, France, and presently serve in some 25 countries.

Our Province: The Province of Mary, Mother of the Americas, was founded in 2000AD and is one of several provinces in the congregation. The members of this Province serve mainly in the countries of Canada, the United States and the Region of Argentina/Bolivia.

Our Mission: Our La Salette ministry of reconciliation responds to the broad vision given by Mary at La Salette as well as in response to the needs of the Church. As reconcilers, we together with the laity take seriously Mary’s mandate: “You will make (Mary’s) message known to all (her) people.”

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