A community of four Sisters of Our Lady of La Salette was set up in El Meniaa, Algeria, in 2013, in response to the request of Bishop Claude Rault, Bishop of the Diocese of Laghouat-Ghardaia, Algeria.
Expatriation and Acculturation
La Salette Sisters Marie-Bernadette, Lalaina, Eulalie, and Perline
The culture, the climate, the language, the rhythm in everyday life are all different from our own homeland of Madagascar but we try to adapt to, live with, and be available to our Algerian people just as the "Beautiful Lady" was dressed like the local women, spoke not only French but also the unique local patois.
We primarily attempt to deepen our knowledge and practice of the Arabic language, and even keep up with our French, as we are all Malagasy. We try to deepen our attitudes of openness, adaptation, availability to events and situations, and be of service to our people. The theme of General Chapter was: "Being disciples, we follow Christ in our multicultural diversity, solidifying our La Salette refounding way”. We also welcome the "Mercy of God” which is also important to those of the Muslim faith.
Patience, Patience, And More Patience!
In our diocese, our new arrivals spend six months learning the Arabic language. We have even learned the regional Arabic which allows us to listen and speak more easily with the mothers who come to us in their need. Our “Life-Helper”, Aisha – who has served the religious communities that preceded us – acts as our guardian, and helps us a lot when we find ourselves in need of guidance.
The La Salette Congregation has finally accepted the invitation of the Bishop of Bukoba Catholic Diocese in Tanzania to start the La Salette presence in Tanzania. The decision to open the mission in Tanzania was a response to the call of the Blessed Mother to "make
Map of Northern Tanzania
her message known to all her people". The mission in Tanzania is the fourth country on the African continent where the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette are present…
The diocese has entrusted to the Congregation the administration of a Parish-elect station (Parokia-teule in Kiswahili) located in the Village of Rutete in Rural Bukoba Tanzania, around 50 kilometers from Bukoba town, within the Kagera Region. The station is one of the highly-Catholic populated places in the diocese.
The mission in Tanzania has a different character.
First, the diocese is not lacking priest to minister to the faithful because they still have the capacity to send priests for studies abroad and to assist other dioceses which are in need of their service.
Second, the majority of the population in the territory of the diocese is Catholic; and in fact, the region (Kagera) was already Christianized more than a hundred years ago.
Third, the opening of the mission was initiated by the diocese through an invitation to the Congregation with the request that an international community shall be established.
Fourth, the place has already its own church building and rectory built by the faithful themselves. The church building is a stone church built more than 60 years ago and the new rectory was built in view of the arrival of the missionaries.
"My House shall be a House of Prayer for all Peoples" (Isaiah 56:7)
The newly built Shrine of our Lady of La Salette at Kayakunnu, Wayanad was blessed on May 20, 2017 by Bishop Mar Jose Porunnedom. It is a dream comes true for the La Salette Missionaries in India as we consecrate and dedicate the Shrine of our Blessed Mother. This will be the first shrine in Kerala dedicated to our Lady of La Salette.
A Place of Prayer
From left: Our Lady of La Salette; New La Salette Shrine in IndiaThe La Salette Shrine is open for all people and will be known as a place of prayer. People of all faith will be welcomed at our shrine and I strongly believe that this shrine will be a center for reconciliation and a place of consolation for many souls.
I have a dream to see La Salette Ashram as a great spiritual center. I am sure that the new Shrine, new house and the retreat center will support us in making this dream come true. The Ashram ministries, the retreat center, vocation promotion, lay association and all other ministries that we do around the area will be supported by our blessed mother and her intercession.
Our Blessed Mother asked us to make her message known to all her people. We can be proud of the ministries we do in making the reconciliation message known to the entire world… The shrine becomes a reality for us through the great support of some well-wishers of La Salette…
The Great Image or Mahamuni, Mandalay, Burma; author: Wagaung at English Wikipedia
Arakan, the western Province of Burma extending from north to south (and vice versa, of course) along the Bay of Bengal, is not listed in tourist guidebooks among the places you must visit before you die. The towering Yoma Mountain ranges that separate it from Burma proper have reduced Arakan to the level and condition of an unloved step-daughter. Today it manages to maintain a precarious place on the map only because it has become "a filling station" for the Imperial Sea-planes and for "Air France", as well as for sailing-vessels that come in to Akyab for paddy.
And yet like every other corner of the world, wherever man has pitched his tent, Arakan has its history and its places of interest. On a recent trip through the districts of Akyab and Paletwa, I visited several old towns where there still remain extensive ruins testifying to the ancient glories Arakan once knew. In the chronological order the first of these is the old Mahamuni Pagoda, said to be the oldest in Burma, ante-dating even the famed Shwe Dagon of Rangoon.
Though I have often resolved before now to leave the visiting of ruins to younger legs, the prospect of another ruin in my neighborhood always seems to weaken my resolution. And so I found myself cycling along the six miles from Kyauktaw to Thayetbin in the mid-day sun grumbling to my companion that for a certainty this was the ruin to end all ruins in my life-time.
The dust of the road, the heat of the sun, a burning thirst – all contributed to making my experience a feeling of kinship with the venerable old pile called Mahamuni Pagoda, when we arrived there. My kind companion and guide explained with thrilling eloquence how this was the first capital of the old Arakenese Kings who flourished (to use the terminology of the best historians) hundreds and hundreds of years ago. Here was to be found formerly the famous image of Buddha, deposited by that good man as he was sailing through the skies one day over this very town, and to which image he imparted the life-giving warmth – whatever that is.
Sister Antoinette Marie-Claire Raharisoa, SSND, on the Holy Mountain
Sister Antoinette Marie-Claire Raharisoa was born in Tsarahonenana in the district of Ambohibary, diocese of Antsirabe, Madagascar. She grew up in a large family of ten brothers and sisters of which she is the seventh.
As good practicing Catholics, we went every Sunday to Sunday Mass, without asking any questions. We were not allowed to work on Sundays. Every evening at home we prayed. We prayed together to Our Lady of La Salette. I did not even know where these prayers came from or to whom to address it but I said it with all my heart.
Every Sunday before the celebration of the Word of God, while waiting for all to arrive, our catechists had us pray the rosary followed by the Litany of Our Lady of La Salette. In fact, since my childhood, the Message of La Salette has been an integral part of my faith journey. Thanks to this faith I received from my parents and the Church, I have always sought how to please Jesus, by giving myself entirely to him. This led me to answer a very special call.
Answering a Special Call
This is how I joined the Sisters of Our Lady La Salette! Arriving in France in 2004 as a novice on internship, I made my first vows in October, 2004 and made my solemn profession in March 2011. I have a religious sister with the Sisters of Christ.
After my first profession, I was sent by Sister Marie Victoire, Superior General in 2004, with two other sisters of my promotion, to open a new community in the diocese of Gap. After 6 years, I am appointed in the diocese of Saint-Flour. Then return to the diocese of Gap. It was here that the Congregation appointed me provincial superior of the NSDS of France. It is in the community that I find fraternal help and the necessary moral support. It is this fraternal life that carries me.
Prayer, Community Life and our Congregation
I experience that praying is not always easy. It is not easy to confide in God in the face of difficult situations and trials, and even in the face of my successes. I need humility. I know that I must be guided by the Spirit. It is he who invites me to look further, towards the beauty of his call which I have benefited from.