The Last Time I Visited Haiti

About our La Salette parish: Bayonnais, Haiti, is about 20 miles East of the city of Gonaives in the state of Artibonite, Haiti's third most populous city, Gonaives (124 miles north of Port-au-Prince). The Bayonnais Valley in Haiti is a remote mountain valley in the North of Haiti with little to no infrastructure or access to services of any kind. For nearly two centuries, subsistence farming has characterized the livelihood of 80,000 people in rural Bayonnais, Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere. This is not uncommon. Following colonial independence in 1804, former slaves exercised newfound freedom by cultivating their own land in the countryside.

 Fr Evariste
 Fr Herve

I had thought of entitling this article, “How I spent my Thanksgiving Vacation,” except it really wasn’t a vacation. And I feared losing those readers who could care less about my personal time. So, “The Last Time I Visited Haiti,” will have to do. Although this is longer than my average letter, I am hoping you’ll be interested enough to read something of the country and situation in which our missionaries are working.
Fr. Jeannot, the Provincial of Madagascar, had to be in the States for a meeting of the General Council, and so he and I decided a joint visit to Haiti would be in order. After all, we are partners in this mission endeavor where there are now two Malagasy La Salettes with a parish entrusted to their care – about which I’ll write more later. We decided to brave threat of earthquake, cyclone and cholera – all of which have struck Haiti in the past year – to encourage our brothers missioned there. Moreover, I wanted to understand what they have to deal with so that I can communicate it to you, as well as to those benefactors who support our mission endeavors.

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Shrine Honors Bro. André

Official Picture of Bro. André
Bissette, a brother of the
Sacred Heart

When we think of saints for our time, perhaps we think of Mother Teresa of Calcutta who spent her life in far-off India or some other saints of ages past. Yet we have a saint from our times who worked and served locally for many years. His name is the recently canonized Brother André Bissette, a member of the Congregation of the Holy Cross. The Attleboro Shrine has gathered information and materials for a display honoring his life and ministry.

His New England Connections

In his lifetime he has visited Church of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in Central Falls, RI; Woonsockett, RI; he worked for a year in Fall River, MA; he visited friends and family members in New Bedford, Holyoke and Springfield, MA; he has distant cousins in Providence, RI;

From these connections to our own area, a great devotion to him has arisen. In fact, Therese Davignon, who lives at Hope Gardens, next to our Attleboro Shrine, had an aunt named Doredd was cured of lameness at the age of twenty-four.

Read more: Shrine Honors Bro. André

Attleboro Launches Annual Appeal

Tom McKenna, Business
Manager with Bro. Bob Russell,
  Development Director

With much excitement, La Salette in Attleboro proudly launched its 2011 La Salette Annual Appeal on Nov. 11, 2010. A group of La Salettes, along with supporters and employees, applauded this first Annual Appeal to benefit the Shrine and Retreat Center and their many ministries.

For over nearly sixty years the La Salette Missionaries have been ministering in the Attleboro area and providing extensive services for the New England area and have welcomed pilgrims from all 50 states and many foreign countries.

As Our Lady of La Salette requested at the conclusion of her apparition, the La Salettes and all of us are to make her message known to all her people. It is truly remarkable how these missionaries have served the surrounding Catholic communities. For example, during this past year the Shrine and Retreat Center Ministries have offered the following:

Read more: Attleboro Launches Annual Appeal

A Few Good Men

Our eight Attendees for the October “Come and See’
 Weekend” in Attleboro with Fr. John A. Welch
(back row, center), with other La Salette priests,
a brother, three La Salette seminarians
and one living with the La Salettes in Attleboro.

In this time in the Catholic Church’s history, it is clear for the Catholics in the United States that we are experiencing a crisis in vocations to the priesthood and religious life. From the statistics of the 1950s versus our numbers today, we realize that something must be done.

Yet “there is hope on the horizon” says Fr. John A. Welch, M.S., Vocation Director for the La Salette Missionaries in North America. He frequently says, “Like the Military Services, we also need a few good men — young men who have heard the call of God and need our encouragement to follow that call, perhaps as brothers or priests in our community.”

Fr. John recently sponsored a “Come and See Weekend” at the La Salette Retreat Center in Attleboro, MA for some young men who are discerning their call to La Salette religious life. They have backgrounds in the wide-ranging fields of accounting, criminal justice, mortician, youth ministry, golf professional and several students. They range in age from 16 to 45 years of age.

Read more: A Few Good Men

Reconciliation Project

George-Brennan_01.jpgEditor’s Note: Fr. George Brennan ministered as a La Salette Missionary for a number of years before he was recently incardinated into the Diocese of Albany. His reconciliation ministry continues in his work with Catholic Charities and his leadership in the Albany Diocese’s Task Force on Evangelization.

Reconciliation is the key to right relationships and healing emotional wounds. Thus, the Albany Diocese’s evangelization initiative, “Amazing God,” is launching the “Reconciliation Project,” asking people to share personal stories that demonstrate the power of God’s healing grace.

“For us to understand what reconciliation with God is all about, we have to pay attention to how people go about reconciling with one another,” said Rev. George Brennan, a member of the Diocese’s task force on evangelization.

During Lent 2011, storytellers from the Reconciliation Project will speak at parishes and schools about their efforts to forgive, reconcile and advocate. The team is looking for people willing to share personal efforts at working to restore right relationships.

Read more: Reconciliation Project

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