Sisters of Our Lady of La Salette:
Our Purpose, History and Ministry
We are uniquely blessed with a founding event – the Apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary at La Salette on September 19, 1946. Mary's compassionate presence at La Salette – her tears, words, gestures, symbols, and the social context – serve as a striking illustration and an urgent reminder of God's merciful love and compassion for his people and creation. She affirms that God is intimately present at the heart of our lives in conversation with us. She weeps because “her people” has so much need for conversion and she remains hopeful that they will return to the Source of Life, the God of infinite tenderness.
We, the Sisters of Our Lady of La Salette in the Philippines are women disciples of Christ, called to live and witness in word, deed and ritual in a creative and participatory way, to the realization of ecclesiastical communion, interfaith solidarity among peoples and deep ecological integrity as designed by Mary in Her Apparition at La Salette, who invites us to transcendence and the restoration of the dignity of persons and creation in a process of conversion from a life restrained by personal weakness and social injustice to the fullness of Life in Christ.
Our Mission: Attentive to the promptings of the Spirit, we have chosen to live as a faith community bonded by a Saletine missional charism and an institutional mode of life in the rhythm of the ministry of Reconciliation. We commit ourselves to be steeped in prayer, imbued with the spirit of sacrifice, filled with zeal and affirm life as a joyful celebration.
Our common identity:
- to participate in the collective endeavor of the faithful to build a Church of Communion and Solidarity with a special care for the poor and a regard for community resurgence;
- to enable people, through the special light and guidance of the La Salette event, to have access to knowledge and wisdom as well as the holding power and inspiring symbols of the Gospel;
- to accompany people to care and serve one another in their historical struggle for justice, peace and fullness of creation.
- Socio-Pastoral and Education Ministries:
- Shrine Services
- Facilitating Retreats
- Welcoming Pilgrims
- Accompanying women/girls in crisis (La Salette Women's Foundation)
- Journeying with Peasants and Communities (Ugnay-Buhay Foundation, BCC-CO, RMP, Parishes)
- School Administration
Two religious communities assure the welcoming of pilgrims and the pastoral program of the La Salette Shrine in France, called the “Holy Mountain”: the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette and the Sisters of Our Lady of La Salette. They perform this mission in collaboration with lay people.
Miss Henriette Deluy-Fabry was born in Marseille in 1828. After a series of pilgrimages to the Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette, she decided to become a religious of La Salette by founding a new congregation inspired by the triple spirit of sacrifice, the apostolate and prayer.
She was encouraged by Pius the IX in 1866. On the 20th of December 1872, the first seven religious “Reparatrice” (in English “Amenders”) went up to the Shrine. Then they accompanied the Missionaries of La Salette in Belgium and in Poland. They were given, in the Grenoble area, the management of a house for the handicapped, the responsibility and care of an Adoration Chapel, and a dispensary.
At the beginning of the 20th century, a new missionary drive began. The Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of La Salette were founded by Fr. Crozet, M.S. and approved by the Bishop of Soissons in his diocese in 1930. They worked with the Missionaries of La Salette in France (at Our Lady of the Hermitage, at Chalon-sur-Saone, and Alai Francheville), in Switzerland, in Belgium, in Canada and in the United States as well as in Italy. Their pruose was “to serve the priests” and “for all other apostolic work for women.”
Two Parts United for Service:
In 1955, the unification of the two branches began, upon the request of the Reparatrice Religious, and the unification was approved by Rome on the eve of the closing of the Second Vatican Council in 1964.
In 1997, a community of the Sister Messengers of Our Lady of La Salette, was given recognition by the Bishop of Benguela in Angola. They were united with the Sisters of Our Lady of La Salette in 2004.
Today, the Sisters of Our Lady of La Salette are about 170 strong in eight countries (France, Brazil, Madagascar, Philippines, USA, Poland, Angola and Myanmar). They answer the call of Christ to a life in community, of prayer, of self offering, and of active presence among those who are in need. Throughout their lives, they want to be witnesses to the call of Christ to reconciliation and conversion.
Our Ministry Around the World:
After Mary's apparition on the mountain of La Salette in 1846, various diocesan congregations of women dedicated to the spirit of La Salette were founded in France. Each had its own spirituality and ministry. Two of these congregations were the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of La Salette and the Reparatrice Sisters. In 1965 these two congregations fused and formed the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of La Salette. Their Mother House is in France in the diocese of Grenoble.
Their main ministry in France is at the La Salette Shrine, the site of the apparition where they continue to minister to the pilgrims, and animate various programs for the youth who come for retreats and weekend reflections at the La Salette Shrine and in other retreat centers. They manage boarding houses for young women, both students and professionals.
True to Mary's words to make her message known to all her people, the Congregation has spread to other parts of the world. They are now present in five continents of the world: in Asia, North America, South America, Africa and Europe.
In the Philippines, the Sisters are present in the provinces of Isabela, Bulacan, Cavite, and in Quezon City. Since education and professional training is an important part of their formation, the Sisters engage in various ministries: from teaching to administration, guidance and counseling in schools, from catechetical instruction in parishes to the formation of Basic Christian Communities in the barrios, animating Bible studies and prayer groups.
Social services have become an important part of their ministry and vocation. They are involved in family-life education and pro-life promotion and counseling. They manage the Marthe-Marie Center for Women, an intervention center for abused and battered women. Taking an option for the poor and marginalized, they go to the barrios and isolated villages where they help the poor farmers organize themselves into self-reliant families and communities. They are involved in health care, coordinating medical missions and directing organizations for the physically handicapped.
Working closely with the la Salette Missionaries at the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette in Silang, Cavite, the La Salette Sisters facilitate retreats and weekend reflections for the Religious, seminarians, and laity. They help in the administration of the Shrine and the Youth Center.
Truly missionary in spirit, they have reached out beyond their homeland to Myanmar (formerly Burma). In 1990, the Bishop of Mitkina in Myanmar, sent three young women to undergo religious formation in the La Salette spirit. Some years later, others followed.
Today, there are four professed Burmese sisters; three undergoing professional studies in the Philippines. The fourth had gone back to Myanmar to live out the Saletine way of life among her people. Three young women have just entered as postulants to begin their religious formation in the Philippines.
In 1976 three young Malagasy La Salette Sisters who have just finished their religious formation in France, returned to their homeland to establish a new foundation in Madagascar. In no time their vitality, enthusiasm and zeal have borne fruit in the many young women who asked to join them as well as in the pastoral commitments they have accepted while responding to the needs of the local church.
Through responsible collaboration with priests in the different dioceses where they work, they remain in close contact with the laity. Both in the cities and in outlying missionary districts they are involved in school administration and teaching, catechesis for children, youth and adults. They place special emphasis on the development of women, visiting them in remote villages, helping the women and girls how to care for themselves better, through improved hygiene and better methods of child rearing in an atmosphere of deep respect for their traditions.
Through a special bond of fraternal understanding and mutual trust they work together with the La Salette Missionaries at the La Salette Center to serve the needs of laity, religious men and women, and priests seeking a quiet place for rest, prayer and reflection.
In 1999 the Congregation of the Messengers of Our Lady of La Salette in Angola requested to fuse with the Sisters of Our Lady of La Salette. Conversations and dialogue have brought the two congregations closer together to formalize the union of the two congregations during the 2004 General Chapter of the Sisters of Our Lady of La Salette.
Although the La Salette Sisters spread from France to other countries in Western and Eastern Europe, the first group going to a "mission" country left for Brazil in 1957. Initially, they worked at the La Salette Seminary in Marcelino Ramos in Southeastern Brazil but as native vocations joined their ranks, they branched off into other ways of living their La Salette spirit and charism.
The lifestyle of these La Salette Sisters is one of integration into Brazilian society while equally respecting the requirements of their religious life. Just as Christ was concerned with the religious and social issues of His day, so they too recognize that the pervading injustices of society touch them as they strive to live their charism.
Working together with the Brazilian Church in the struggle against injustice, inequality, discrimination and prejudice, the La Salette Sisters find fulfillment in their reconciling efforts to counter these social evils. Committed to the New Evangelization, they follow guidelines that respect the values, customs and traditions of a people oppressed by a dominating ideology that marginalizes and disenfranchises the majority of the population.
In their social work they provide material help and moral guidance for the poor, caring for laborers, instructing young girls and women in sewing and teaching them garment making skills. They have a real commitment and presence to the homeless and outcasts but they are also active in the formation of Religious Education personnel, catechetical instruction and school supervision.
The Holy Year 2000 brought countless graces to the Sisters of Our Lady of La Salette. It was a year of opening of new missions not only in the countries where they are already established but also abroad. In the United States, the sisters saw the refounding of their congregation in the Diocese of Arlington in Virginia. In the early 1960's they were invited by the La Salette Missionaries to work with them in their apostolate at the La Salette Shrine in Attleboro, Massachusetts. The lack of vocations at that time forced the congregation to close their house in Attleboro and recalled the Sisters back to France.
In January 2001, upon the invitation of the Bishop of Arlington, the congregation established a community of three sisters in Virginia. The sisters work closely with the diocesan priests and personnel in directing the social programs of the Diocese like prison ministry, hospital chaplaincy, and Project Rachel, a program which seeks to help women who had abortions.
In August 2001, the Archbishop of Chicago invited the congregation to establish a community in his Archdiocese. There are now four sisters working in the Archdiocese of Chicago: two sisters teach Religious Education in a Chinese mission school, another sister directs the Religious Education Program in one parish, and another directs the Language and Culture Program of the Asian Ethnic Ministries of the Archdiocese.
The latest mission community (July 2002) that was recently established by the congregation is in Poland. There are five La Salette Sisters there working in fraternal collaboration with the La Salette Missionaries. They are involved in the different pastoral work of the parish of Rzesow. It is an international community made up of two Polish sisters, two Filipino sisters and one Malagasy sister. The foreign sisters are still learning the language to be able to work effectively with the people.