La Salette at World Youth Day

Pope Benedict greets the thousands of youth in Madrid at World Youth Day 2011
I was pleasantly surprised to be asked by Fr. John Welch, M.S. to go with him to the World Youth Day in August, 2011, in Madrid, Spain. We decided to host this trip on behalf of our La Salette Province. We gathered a group of twelve people, a mixture of adults, high school and college age people and travelled to Valencia, Spain, to experience first a “Day in the Diocese.” 

Youth by the Thousands


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The Enfield Shakers


Preston Maynard's 1880s rendering of Enfield Shaker Village
When the Shakers settled on the west shore of Mascoma Lake, they called their home the "Chosen Vale." Nestled in a lush valley between Mt. Assurance and Mascoma Lake, it is easy to see why this site has been cherished for two hundred years. Founded in 1793, this village was the 9th of 18 Shaker communities to be established in this country. 
At its peak in the mid 19th century, the community was home to three "Families" of Shakers. Here, Brothers, Sisters, and children lived, worked, and worshipped. Here, they practiced equality of the sexes and races, celibacy, pacifism, and communal ownership of property. Striving to create a heaven on earth, the Enfield Shakers built more than 200 buildings (including the Great Stone Dwelling, the largest Shaker dwelling ever built), farmed over 3,000 acres of fertile land, educated children in model schools, and followed the "Shaker Way" of worship. 
This drawing (above), by Preston Maynard, depicts the community as it looked in the 1880's and was produced as part of the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) that resulted in the placement of the Enfield Shaker Village on the National Register of Historic Places as an Historic Village.

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Faith with Emotion

The country of Bolivia is comprised of nine territorial Departments. In its mountainous center is the Department of Cochabamba, whose main administrative city carries the same name. This sprawling city has a population of nearly 1 ¼ million, and is expanding by leaps and bounds. Its climate is an eternal springtime, with plenty of sunshine and rainfall. 

Parish Church of Our Lady of
La Salette in Cochabamba, Bolivia

La Salette Missionaries came to minister in Bolivia 23 years ago, in the Department of Tarija, one of the southernmost areas of the country. Almost immediately young men asked to join them, and a formation house was set up in Cochabamba where they have lived and ministered for the past 20 years. Soon the International Latin-American Novitiate – serving Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia – was established there in one of the fast-growing outlying barrios or neighborhoods. A few years later they established the parish of Our Lady of La Salette in that sector. 
Today it has two neighborhood chapels attached – Exaltation and Christ Reconciler. In these three edifices, Mass is celebrated throughout the week, families are formed through catechetical preparation for Sacraments and pastoral counseling is done. I lived in the rectory with the other La Salettes while I was studying in Cochabamba in 2009. 

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Helping the Missions

Often with the support of many people in the United States, our La Salette Mission Center in St. Louis, MO,  has been privileged to forward money and sponsor projects that help alleviate suffering and hardship in the mission countries where La Salettes minister. Some money – like that previously earmarked for helping people devastated by the cyclone / hurricane in Myanmar – is sent immediately. Other projects – like the solar ovens project for Madagascar – must wait until adequate funds are received, available shipping can be arranged and qualified personnel can be in place to assure the desired outcome. 
But the bulk of funds collected each year – usually over $300,000.00 – is divided and sent at one time to cover projects and necessities that our Missionaries have programmed into a coming-year’s schedule. The following illustrate how this money is used.

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Fr. Clarence Wheeler Remembered For Teaching By Example

Fr, Clarence Wheeler, in Jefferson
City, MO, where he served as
chaplain for 40 years.

John Banks cried when La Salette Father Clarence Wheeler wouldn’t baptize him. Fr. Wheeler didn’t think he was ready. “He was teaching me to be a Catholic missionary,” said Mr. Banks, who was a resident of the old Missouri State Penitentiary (MSP) in Jefferson City when Fr. Wheeler was a chaplain there. “He had me study the Bible and the Catechism. I did all of that. I kept telling him, ‘I’m ready.’ He said, ‘No, you’re not.’ I was ready to give up. He said, ‘No, you’re not.’” One Sunday morning, Fr. Wheeler said, ‘You’re ready” and baptized him.

Fr. Wheeler, 88, who spent over half of his 63 years of priestly life in Jefferson City, died on June 9, 2011, in Jefferson City.

“He was man of few words and a lot of actions,” said Mr. Banks, who now lives in St. Louis. “He would say, ‘I’ll show you that you can do it.’” That strategy helped Fr. Wheeler help seminarians, cloistered sisters and prison residents alike. “What he said was the truth,” said Mr. Banks. “It was life.”


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