A New Director

Untitled-1.jpgBeginning in January, 2011 the La Salette Mission Center has a new Executive director, Fr. Thomas Vellappallil, MS.

He was born in the town of Anichad, in the southern part of the state of Kerala, India on June 10, 1963, the 4th of 9 children. His parents, who are still living, belong to the Syro-Malabar Catholic Rite and baby Thomas was baptized into the Church in that rite.

Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary was part of the family's life. Thomas' love for Mary grew stronger during his education at the local Catholic school which he attended through high school. This led him to enter the seminary run by the Society of the Missionaries of St. Thomas where, beginning in 1983, he started studying philosophy.

Becoming aware of Thomas' devotion to Mary, his spiritual director, a priest who had a great devotion to Mary and who had been to Shrine of La Salette in France, recommended that young Thomas consult with Fr. Efren Thomas, a La Salette Missionary who had come from the Philippines to speak about La Salette and to talk about vocational discernment to a La Salette way of life.

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An Email from Haiti

The rubble of a church remains
Fr. Bernie Baris, M.S., received this email on January 12, 2011, the anniversary of the Haiti earthquake, from Father Tom Moore who works in Port-au-Prince. Fr. Tom also preached the Lenten Retreat at Fr. Bernie’s Parish of Our Lady of the Cape in Brewster, MA, last year. Fr. Bernie will be going to Haiti in February.

Hi, Everyone,

I just returned from an open air Mass on the grounds around the ruins of the former Cathedral. It was very moving with thousands and thousands of folks, hundreds of priest concelebrants and lots of bishops from here and from other countries. A Cardinal from Rome representing the Pope presided and gave a very powerful homily.

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Sacred Landscapes

Map at beginning of Trail

Across Massachusetts religious groups are permanently saving natural lands in their ownership with the assistance of conservation   groups. Mass Audubon's Attleboro Springs Wildlife Sanctuary at La Salette is one of the success stories in the progressive statewide initiative. This exquisite and ecologically diverse new sanctuary in the city of Attleboro will formally open this fall.

Protecting their land was a perfect fit for the priests at the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette. “Our community began on top of an alpine mountains in the French Alps,” says Father Ron Gagné, MS, “so you can see why we have consistently established our ministry close to nature. We have founded parishes and shrines where people can pray, reflect, and find reconciliation with themselves, with each other, and with God.” The La Salette order's mission of reconciliation now extends to reuniting humanity with nature.

“Stewardship of all life encompasses people, animals, and the earth,” says Father Gagné. “Embracing this world view, we want to draw people to the beauty of our own

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Technology and the Gospel

Pope Benedict XVI
 welcomes some children

As Director of Communications for the North American Province of the La Salette Missionaries, I am constantly amazed at the speed and growth of technology. When I volunteered about five years ago to be involved in communications, I was initially a bit overwhelmed – a feeling common for many baby boomers. Technology is progressing by leaps and bounds and the speed of needed change seems to be increasing, even in the area of announcing the gospel message.

The Pope, the Gospel and New Technologies

Notably the Vatican has gotten on the bandwagon of technology communication, launching a YouTube channel with videos featuring Pope Benedict, releasing Facebook and iPhone apps to spread the Church’s message. Recently the Pope spoke specifically to priests, encouraging them to use the modern means of communication to share Christ’s message:

“The spread of multimedia communications and its rich ‘menu of options’ might make us think it sufficient simply to be present on the Web, or to see it only as a space to be filled. Yet priests can rightly be expected to be present in the world of digital communications as faithful witnesses to the Gospel, exercising their proper role as leaders of communities which increasingly express themselves with the different ‘voices’ provided by the digital marketplace. Priests are thus challenged to proclaim the Gospel by employing the latest generation of audiovisual resources (images, videos, animated features, blogs, websites) which, alongside traditional means, can open up broad new vistas for dialogue, evangelization and catechesis.”

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They Shine at the Shrine

Untitled-1.jpgATTLEBORO – It's as much a Thanksgiving tradition as turkey and football games and once again thousands turned out Thursday night for the illumination of the lights at La Salette Shrine. The 57th annual Festival of Lights runs through Jan. 2 on the spreading shrine site off Park Street (Route 118), but for many, the opening night is the opportune time to take the 450,000 lights and holiday spirit in.

More than 250,000 visitors are again expected from all over for what is billed as one of the largest holiday light displays on the East Coast.

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