The Beginnings of the La Salette Mission Field in Argentina
Editor: (This is a reprint of an article from “Our Lady’s Missionary of May, 1939.) Fr. Michael Kolbuch, former pastor of St. Mary's, Ware, Mass., and (then) head of our Polish Province, had opened a promising mission field in the Argentine Republic. Like all other enterprises of Father Kolbuch, this pioneering venture bore witness to his indefatigable zeal.
Fr. Michael Kolbuch, M. S. on the S.S. Uruguay, officiates at the Memorial Mass for the late Pope Pius XI
While making his way back to the United States from Argentina on board the S.S. Uruguay, he officiated at the Memorial Mass for the late Pius XI. In March and April of 1938, after having returned to the United States, he spent time preaching several missions and renewing old acquaintances. The following account from his own pen reveals the extent and importance of the new foundation.
Having learned that very many Polish immigrants in Argentina were deprived of spiritual assistance due to the lack of priests, I undertook to make a special survey of religious conditions there in the hope of establishing a few centers of apostolate for our Fathers.
Accordingly, in April, 1936, I set out for that country, taking with me Fr. Father Sudyka who, God willing, would settle at some post awaiting reinforcements. The voyage from Poland to Argentina took twenty-six days. Two more months were spent visiting the country which is ten times the size of France.
It was a tiresome and arduous journey. We were warmly received, however, by their gracious lordships of the Archiepiscopal Sees of La Plata, Rosario, Santa Fe, and Cordoba. In each of these archbishoprics, I was invited to open mission centers as soon as the men and the means were available. Heartened by this welcome, I returned to Poland leaving Father Sudyka at Villa Dominico, a mission post confided to us by the Archbishop of La Plata.
La Salette in Enfield, New Hampshire – The First Years
Editor: This article was written with the use of “Memoirs” of Father Elméric Dubois, M.S.,
(from left) Fr. Zotique Chouinard, M.S. (1883-1964); Fr. Elméric Dubois, M.S. (1899-1979)
The following is a translation, and in some places, an adaptation of passages selected from the fascinating Memoirs of Father Elméric Dubois as well as from the notes of Father Wilfrid Boulanger, M.S., dealing with Enfield foundation. Fr. Dubois has established several events about it, but he is interested in personalities, especially that of Father Zotique Chouinard, M.S. Father Dubois does not present himself as an historian but he seems to have an historian’s talent and predisposition. With as much objectivity as possible, he describes the people, relates the facts, recalls the events, specifies the details and is able to distinguish between the essential and the secondary.
An Impressive La Salette Cross
Within his splendid memoirs, Father Dubois, at some point, cites this passage from another historian for us to enjoy life a little segment taken from life of Enfield in 1928.
Editor: This article with its initial impressions of Brazilian culture and faith was written in 1934.
As in every other frontier land, but especially in a land of chaos and murder such as this, deeds of terrible violence dogged the trail of colonization, there being no such thing in the early days as civil authority or judicial force… Marcelino has a scarlet history… and if only a part of what is said can be believed, surely the curse of Cain is marked indelibly upon it.
Editor: Reaching back in time, we produce the original article about the beginning of our ministry in Bassfield, Mississippi in 1936. The remarks of Fr. Bernard Reilly were startlingly poignant. In fact, in the true missionary spirit, the La Salette Missionaries did not take a stipend from this impoverished parish and its missions during our years of service in Bassfield. On September 1, 1935, the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette took charge of St. Peter's Church, Bassfield, Mississippi, in the Diocese of Natchez, at the kind invitation of the Most Reverend Bishop Richard Oliver Gerow, D.D. Reverend Bernard Reilly, M. S., a native of Waterbury, Connecticut, and formerly pastor of St. Patrick's Church, Lufkin, Texas, has been appointed pastor and director of the new foundation, with Reverend Francis Lundgren, M. S., of Bristol, Connecticut, as Assistant.
Bassfield, Missisippi, September 15, 1936.
In your last issue, you mentioned that the La Salette Fathers were taking charge of a new foundation at Bassfield, Mississippi. Lest you have any false impressions of this place, I would like to tell you a few experiences of our first days in Mississippi.
To begin with, I was rather skeptical of the sort of welcome we might receive when the people should find out that both Father Lundgren and I are Connecticut Yankees. The parish, you know, is in the heart of the old South – in Jefferson Davis County, suh (that is, “sir” in southern dialect)! I had half resolved to forget the land of my birth and simply tell the people I came from Texas.
When Father Bernard Baris, M.S., was named director of La Salette’s Retreat Center in Attleboro, MA., in May of 2016, he found himself back in familiar territory.
“Ever since I could remember, I wanted to become a priest,” recalled Father Baris. “My grandparents used to come every Sunday to the shrine, be part of the Liturgy processions and all that, and so I grew up hearing nothing but La Salette. When it came time for me to make a decision to follow my vocation into the priesthood, it was natural that I would be part of La Salette.”