(center): Sr. Maria Josephine; (2nd from right)
As a La Salette religious community, we have many things to be thankful for to God in our recent past and developing present. Our community is growing by leaps and bounds and growing more in our internationality.
For example, we just celebrated the first profession of the first American sister in the second generation of our history in North America. Sr. Rosanne Shemchuk, SNDS, professed her vows on Sept. 7, 2011, in our Novitiate House in Fairfax, VA. We see this as a new hope for the missionary presence of the sisters in North America. She is assigned at the National Shrine in Attleboro to strengthen the collaboration of the La Salette Missionaries and Sisters of our Lady of La Salette. Hopefully this will renew the original vision of the first La Salettes, Maximin and Melanie, as male and female counterparts.
This is also the original dream of Fr. François Denaz, M.S., who first wrote to the bishop of Grenoble when Fr. Denaz was still a novice, saying that he hoped that there would be a male and female presence of La Salettes in the church. This dream is becoming a reality – from France to the Philippines and now in North America. Our multicultural presence in North America includes sisters from North America, the Philippines, Madagascar, and Myanmar and soon from Poland. Our novice from Poland will be serving at the Shrine in Attleboro for four months as an exposure-experience, part of our international formation program.
|Statue of Our Lady of La Salette
in the the Holy Mountain reception area
Another gift to be thankful for is the fidelity of the Our Lady of La Salette Lay Community (LSLC). They are helping us in promoting La Salette spirituality, especially in northern Virginia. They share in the mission of the sisters in celebrating the Feast of Our Lady of La Salette and promoting the La Salette Novena. They also support the Healing Masses for the sexually abused offered by the Bishop of Arlington, Bishop Paul Loverde, as well as part of the Pro-Life Ministry, Project Rachel (ministry to those who have had abortions). These same lay people also connect with our La Salette Associates in other countries, especially those in France and the Philippines.
We as a community are always seeking out connections with various dioceses around the world to assist them with the strength of our La Salette charism for building up of the kingdom of God. We are doing this:
1) in Madagascar and Angola: we are helping with the building of schools and their eventual administration;
2) in the Philippines, Myanmar, North America, Brazil and Italy: we are involved in many and varied pastoral ministries;
3) in Poland: we are building our presence there with the entrance of our second novice as well as developing our international character by welcoming sisters from the Philippines and Madagascar.
4) in Myanmar: we have a fast-growing community with the recent first profession of three sisters and more prospects and aspirants applying to our community; our Myanmar sisters are now ready to send sisters in the mission as one has sent to North America, novices in the stage of exposure go to France and in the near future, Canada.
5) in Western Canada: we are in the process of preparing and looking for the possible sisters to serve in the Diocese of Vancouver with Bishop Michael Miller in Canada possibly in pastoral ministry as Ministers to the Sick, in Religious Education and School Administration; we will see how the Lord shape the future of this new mission.
6) in Algeria: we have received an invitation from Bishop Claude Rault to serve in his diocese as “ a ministry of presence”; we are presently exploring this possibility.
All of these show our complete willingness to step out in faith and respond to Mary’s invitation to “not be afraid.” We are comforted by Jesus’ assurance: “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age (Matt 28:20).”
Our vision for the next six years as a community is centered on the words of Jesus: “Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing (Jn 15:5).” This gives us hope that we will be faithful to our call as Sisters of Our Lady of La Salette to make Mary’s message known.
Recent pie chart of the La Salette Sisters’ personnel stationed around the world