La Salette America
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Three Leaders of Brazilian La Salette Laity,
attending the 2011 La Salette International
Lay Encounter in France

Several years ago, in November of 2008, the participants in the International Encounter of La Salette Missionaries in Brazil met at the La Salette Institute in Curitiba, Brazil. These included Brazilian La Salette Laity who explained and discussed their desired involvement in La Salette ministry in the spirit of Our Lady of La Salette.

 

Who are the La Salette Laity in Brazil?

Since 2003, according to their agreement with the members of the La Salette Province in Brazil, laity have developed their group of La Salette Laity, including their charter with the Province, and have published a booklet of principles of La Salette spirituality and a common La Salette hymn. A member of the La Salette Laity said: "We want to be a missionary movement involved in concrete action for solidarity, reconciliation and peace. And we desire to be an arm of (or connected to) the La Salette Province in Brazil.

"Our present ministry is most often related to the La Salette MIssionaries by sharing in giving Shrine or Parish Missions (retreats). The La Salette Laity have felt the need to organize themselves together and be, as Catholic laity, a vibrant part of the La Salette Family and their common mission of reconciliation.

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(L to R) Rev. James M. Weeks, M.S., Rev. 
John P. Bradford, M.S., Rev. Stephen
J. Krisanda, M.S., preparing to leave
for their new mission in Argentina.

Editor: In the Spring of 1965, Fr. Jack Toner, M.S., Director of the La Salette Mission Office in Hartford, CT, announced in his monthly newsletter about the La Salettes from North America formally taking their place in the mission of Argentina. North American La Salettes had already volunteered in the missions of 

Burma (Myanmar), Magadascar, the Philippines and assisted informally in Argentina. In his article we see the first steps made by our first three La Salettes from North America in embracing their new mission in “the Argentine,” as he described it.

 

New Mission Challenge for
La Salettes from North America

 

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Fr. Emery DesRochers, M.S.

What does the homeless person have to do with reconciliation? I think we can safely say that the general definition of Christian reconciliation is the bringing of God to human beings as well as bringing humanity back to God. To the homeless person, the caring stranger brings God’s love, God’s abiding presence.

 

God’s Ongoing Concern for the Poor and Homeless

The Old Testament taught the importance of concern for the poor and the homeless. From Isaiah we hear:

This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; Setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; Sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own (Isaiah 58:6-7).

St. Paul reminds us of the source of his message and mission:

Now I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel preached by me is not of human origin. For I did not receive it from a human being, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ (Gal 1:11-12).

 My husband, Richard, and I have been members of the La Salette Faith Community since 1970. From that time until 1996 when the property was finally sold, we celebrated Liturgy each Sunday at the La Salette Shrine in Ipswich, Massachusetts with our family.

 

Small Steps at First

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La Salette Shrine Church, Ipswich MA.:
(left, façade; right interior)

In 1981, at a meal in our home one evening, Fr. Tom Reilly, MS, who was Superior of the La Salette Shrine, spoke to us about a woman, named Elizabeth Buckley, who was coming to look at an empty house on the Shrine property in order to establish a home for adults with developmental disabilities. He then related that she had been the founder and director of a L’Arche home in Inverness, Scotland. This information, at the time, meant little to us because we had never heard of L’Arche. I asked him to let me know if she decided to accept the offer from the La Salettes because I would certainly want to welcome her to this area.

Later I learned more about L’Arche. Jean Vanier, a Canadian by birth, is the founder of the L’Arche movement which was established in Trosly-Breuil, France in 1964. The community began when Jean invited two men with developmental disabilities, who had been living in an institution, to come and live with him in his home. His name for their home, L’Arche, has its origin in the book of Genesis — L’Arche being French for ark. Just as Noah invited all God’s creatures into the ark, L’Arche likewise became a symbol for refuge and hope for those with developmental disabilities.

 

Part of a Worldwide Family

The Federation of L’Arche has grown to over 135 communities in 20 countries throughout the world—spread through Europe, the United States, Canada, South and Central America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia and Australia. There is usually more than one home in a community and in each home, the core members live with assistants in a family-like environment.

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Fr. Alfredo Velarde, M.S., with
a young parishioner

My name is Jenifer Truitt, and I am the Coordinator of Religious Education for St. Oliver Plunkett Catholic Church, a La Salette parish in Snellville, Georgia. In June of 2007, which was the middle of winter in South America, I had the privilege of joining the St. Oliver’s mission team on a two-week trip to Las Termas de Rio Hondo, Argentina to visit our sister parish, Nuestra Señora de Perpetuo Socorro at the invitation of Fr. Alfredo Velarde, M.S., the pastor.

It is in the north central part of Argentina, popular with tourists for its thermal springs. Our parish consists of mostly poor people and includes about 27,000 parishioners; that is, the entire city and its surrounding barrios. The purpose of our trip was to visit our sister parish to learn more about the parishioners, how they live, and with what needs we might be able to help them.

 

To Twin or Not to Twin

In 2003, our pastor, Fr. Jim Henault, M.S., entered into an agreement on behalf of our parishioners with Fr. Alfredo. It is not uncommon for parishes to “twin” like this, and it was something our parish community was interested in pursuing. We chose the church in Las Termas because Fr. Jim had spent approximately two months living there, immersing himself learning Spanish and getting to know the people and their customs. He saw their financial needs and he felt our parish could help them. The agreement was initially a five-year commitment and we have just renewed it for another five years.

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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.”