La Salette America
Editor: This article was written in November of 1935 by a La Salette Missionary serving in Rio. Therefore we have mostly used archival visuals from that time to enhance his reflections.

Untitled 1Statue of Christ the Redeemer standing in the Tijuca Forest National Park overlooking the city of Rio. Christ’s arms are open, serving as a symbol of peace.The following letter from a Missionary of our Lady of La Salette in Brazil affords some interesting side-lights on the life and customs of the people in that great South American republic. From it the reader may gather some idea of the life of a Missionary, with its light and shadow, in that vast and still undeveloped country where civilization in its noblest expressions and barbarity in its lowest form mingle in the strangest pattern. Our correspondent writes to us from Rio de Janeiro:

"From my window where I sit to pen these lines I can look but over the great and marvelous Bay of Guanabara, overcast now with a heavy shroud of black, ominous clouds; and as the mists rise and fall, the statue of "Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer)" on the mountain peak of Corcovado appears and disappears from behind the veil that hangs before its two thousand feet of rocky pedestal.

The rain patters on the tiles outside my window, but, defiant of the downpour, the peddlers bawl their wares through the streets, and urchins who found the weather too bad to go to school, fill the air with a never ending chorus of screams and laughter.

It is only recently that I have really come to know and appreciate this capitol city of Brazil, Rio de Janeiro. On my first arrival in the summer of 1932, I was delayed here a month before continuing my journey southward to our missions among the "gauchos" of Sao Paulo. But my experiences then were similar to those of the average tourist who comes here on a sightseeing visit.

Editor: This is a report recently sent to the parishioners of Our Lady of the Cape Parish in Brewster, MA., outlining their longstanding support of the poor in Haiti and the ongoing needs of the poorest of the poor.

Untitled 1Fr. William Kaliyadan, M.S. (front, center) with Pastor (last row) after Mass with school children
I just returned from a visit to our Haitian brothers and sisters in Christ whom we at Our Lady of the Cape Parish in Brewster, Massachusetts – staffed as we are by the La Salette Missionaries – have been committed to serving for the past twenty-three years. I would like to take advantage of this opportunity to share with you my thoughts and impressions from my time there, and update you regarding the progress being made.

First of all, in order to understand the setting for our ministry in Haiti, author Scott Hortop has written that:

“Haiti is a country steeped in centuries of cultural fear and mistrust. Although an independent republic since1806, Haitians have yet to experience the trust that enables productivity through cooperation. A study of Haitian society reveals a difficulty with management, a difficulty with administration, a difficulty to work in any situation that requires cooperation, a difficulty in trusting: a difficulty but not an inability.” (FIDA)

Establishing A Model of Collaboration

Untitled 2Map of West Central Haiti and some of our mission towns indicated
Our parish of Our Lady of the Cape has always approached these cultural challenges in Haiti, using a cooperative model based on faith and charity. Over time and with great patience, prayer and fraternity, this model has been fruitful. Through consistency, sincerity and transparency, we have experienced genuine care for each other, as well as accountability. Through our collaborative Christian relationship, we have become even more aware that we are the “keepers “of our brothers and sisters. During my recent week in Haiti, I grew in appreciation of this relationship in a very genuine way.

St. Claire Parish in Dessalines

Fr. Robinson Alexis, pastor, and his parishioners extended a warm welcome to Fr. Joe Gosselin M.S. (a retired, enthusiastic La Salette who spends three months a year in Haiti doing missionary work), Fr. Thomas Vellappillil, director of the La Salette North American Mission Office in St. Louis, and myself.

Parishioners thanked us for our recent help with a new sound system, new electric fans for the parish church and the replacement of a damaged part of the rectory roof. They were also grateful for our financial support to the four seminarians from their parish who are now pursuing their studies for the priesthood.


Editor: Fr. Francis X. Baldwin, M.S., served in Fairmont, West Virginia from 1931 to 1942 and Fr. John Tobin, M.S., from 1932 to 1936.

Untitled 1Fr. Francis X. Baldwin, M.S. (1900-1984)The sun was just breaking through the morning mist as the train pulled in to the station of Grafton. So this was West Virginia, I mused as I gazed with sleepy eyes at the grass-covered hills dimly outlined in the early morning light.

But suddenly the view was hidden by a seemingly endless string of cars rolling northward laden with bituminous or soft coal. "Black diamonds", they call them in this section, and it was not many days later before I learned how well they deserve that name in this country where coal means life, food and drink – and too often, tragedy and death.

A Small Mining Town

Our train rolled on again for an hour and then I found myself at my journey's end – the mining town of Fairmont. A few moments later and I was renewing acquaintance with an old school friend of other years, the Reverend Francis X. Baldwin, M.S., a native of Meriden, Connecticut, and now pastor of the Italian parish of St. Joseph's, and the Shepherd of the Mines. (See “History of Coal Miners”)

While the annual Festival of Lights is burning brightly at the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette in Attleboro, the caretakers of the well-known religious landmark — the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette — are hoping to see light at the end of the tunnel in their appeal now sitting with the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.Untitled 1(from left) John Adams Courthouse, Boston and State Seal

At issue is a 2013 tax bill for $92,000 that La Salette is disputing. The Board of Assessors for the City of Attleboro would only exempt the church and parsonage structures on the La Salette property from taxes for that year, along with 60 percent of the other property on the grounds such as its cafeteria and bistro operations. When the state Appellate Tax Board likewise upheld the assessors’ decision, the shrine ultimately took their appeal to the state’s highest court, which originally heard oral arguments on the case April 5, 2016.

“We waited for 130 days, which is the (standard) time limit that the SJC gives to themselves before they come out with a decision,” explained Father Cyriac Mattathilanickal, M.S., Retreat Director at La Salette Shrine. “After the 130 days they wrote us back, waiving their rule and asking for an extension before they could come up with a decision. After about a month or so, we received another letter saying they were unable to reach a majority decision on the case, and therefore they were asking for a second oral argument of the case.”

Untitled 1St. José Gabriele del Rosario Brochero (1840-1914), an Argentine priest, riding his mule, with which he traveled the parish, covering 4,336 square kilometers of valleys and mountains.
José Gabriele del Rosario Brochero was born in Santa Rosa de Rio Primero (Cordoba, Argentina) on March 16, 1840, the fourth of ten children, to a deeply Christian family. On March 5, 1856 he entered Our Lady of Loreto College Seminary and on November 4,1866 was ordained a priest.

In his first years of priesthood, he was assigned to assist with pastoral care at the Cathedral of Cordoba, where he served during the cholera epidemic that struck the city.

Following the completion of his doctorate in philosophy at the University of Cordoba, Father Brochero was named Prefect of Studies in the Major Seminary. In 1869 he was entrusted with the pastoral care of the vast region of San Alberto in Cordoba, which was without streets or schools, and counted only a few inhabitants scattered along the Sierra Grande mountain range, who were living in a state of moral and material poverty.

Father Brochero was not discouraged, however, and from that moment on, he dedicated his whole life to preaching the Gospel, and to educating and assisting the inhabitants, in particular the poorest and marginalized. He also built churches, schools, streets and worked for the opening of postal offices and banks, as well as the extension of the railway.

Through the use of the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius, he achieved numerous conversions. In 1877 he opened a retreat house which welcomed over forty thousand people.

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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.”