Editor: This article was originally written for a booklet celebrating the Centennial of the La Salette Apparition in 1946.
"Tierra prometida, tierra por lavenir," — thus do the Argentine people love to speak of their country: the Land of Promise, the Land of the Future. Argentina is a rich country and for the most part its people are the descendants of Spanish and Italian immigrants. It is a Catholic country and it has harbored many a Polish refugee. The lack of clergy has prevented the development of the Church among the scattered population of the hinterland. Hence a great field of apostolate lies open in Argentina.
In May,1936, the Rev. Michael Kolbuch, M.S., Provincial of Poland, was urged by Cardinal Hlond, at the invitation of the Polish Government, to undertake a survey of the Polish Catholic immigrants in Argentina. The outcome of his visit was the establishment of several La Salette mission centers in four of the provinces of Argentina: La Plata, Cordoba, Santa Fe and Rosario. A first group of six Fathers and two lay-brothers set out from Poland in 1937 and the following year brought reinforcements.
The work of the Fathers in Argentina, be it said in passing, is not limited to Polish immigrants only. Moreover, these are quite scattered throughout that vast country. The Missionaries labor to spread the Gospel and Mary's message to many needy souls in a broad and strangely mixed territory. A Novitiate and a Scholasticate have been opened to recruit vocations.
More apostles are being trained in the American High School Seminary founded at Olivet, Illinois. It is hoped that the success of this undertaking will help to compensate for the terrible losses incurred by the Province of Our Lady, Queen of Poland, in the old world.
|Polish La Salette Fathers in Ware,
Massachusetts in 1931: (L to R) Frs.
Slusarz, Michael Herbut (1894-1953),
Michael Kolbuch (1989-1957) and Piotr
From the religious point of view, Argentina still leaves a great deal to be accomplished. The working class especially is sadly lacking in religious care and instruction. It is safe to state that in the Catholic land of Argentina a very small percentage of the people are faithful to the constant practice of Catholicism — we may say three percent of the men and twelve per cent of the women. It is a condition of things such as this that caused Our Blessed Mother to shed bitter tears in her Holy Apparition at La Salette. May she whose salutary teachings are now being preached in Argentina, bless the Church of that country and revive the service of Christ among its dear people.