New View of Madagascar Church

Stopping at the missions on our way to Morandova

Before our recent trip actually came to fruition, we conjured up all sorts of images of Madagascar, and also what the missionaries would look like and have done to help the poor. Our minds, molded by old missionary movies, formed images of tall white men wearing long robes, sandals, and straw hats, walking on dirt paths, paddling small boats up rivers to remote villages, and bringing the word of Jesus Christ to the natives.

By traveling to Madagascar on the coattails of the retired La Salette Bishop Donald Pelletier, Sharon and I had the good fortune to see and hear firsthand what fifty years as a missionary has meant to both Bishop Donald and the people to whom he has ministered. After being away from his people for almost a year due to cardiac surgery, rehabilitation, and recuperation, Bp. Donald returned to Madagascar proudly wearing his cardiac rehabilitation “Fit For Life” t-shirt.

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Coming Full Circle in Myanmar

Untitled-6.jpgSince I began writing the La Salette Mission Center’s monthly Vision and Mission newsletter in 1998, I have received numerous letters from benefactors voicing their appreciation or disapproval, their concern interest in one facet or another of what was written. I wish to thank everyone who helped me to better its content and hopefully increase an awareness of the mission Christ left to us, the Church.

Recently I received a letter from a long-time benefactor of the mission in Burma (Myanmar), who had begun helping the La Salette Missionaries in Thayetmyo in the mid 1950s. Over and above the ordinary ministry of that mission, Frs. Steve Dressell, Mike Blumm, Untitled-7.jpgCharles Gendron, James Noonan and their companions had a special ministry there - caring for an orphanage and a leprosarium.

Of the 10,000 lepers in Burma in the late 1950's some 2,500 lepers were in that area alone, and only about 80 could have permanent residence in the Thayetmyo leprosarium! What the Missionaries had done since their arrival in 1937 was to plant the seed of Faith. They did it through personal hardship and yet with determination and joy.

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Mission Talks in U.S.A.

Fr. Joy Chukkananickal, M.S.

Prior to my arrival in the United States almost seven years ago, I already knew much about the country – from studies in school, from the American doctor who treated us at the seminary in the Philippines and, yes, from movies. However, experiencing it personally brought my knowledge and understanding to a new level.

The first thing that struck me after I landed was the number of cars on the road, how well planned the roads and transportation systems are, how beautiful nature appears and above all, how well mannered most of the population is. Later I was to experience firsthand the beauty of traveling by car.

With Fr. Joe Shea, M.S., as my companion, I went all the way from Hartford, CT, to Sulphur, LA, to Lufkin, TX and up to St. Louis, MO. What a trip! Yes, it was a long ride during which I was able to do some of the driving - remember that in India we drive on the “other” side of the road! What I learned and experienced during that trip would be very helpful later on as I began driving alone around the Midwest doing mission appeals. Even Milwaukee became a target for my adventuresome spirit.

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Growing Up in Angola

Fr. Pedro Chingandu, M.S.

In his first visit to the United States, Fr. Pedro Chingandu, M.S., took the occasion to share some interesting information about his life with the members of the La Salette Community during a retreat. Here is his fascinating story.

A Good Family

The fourth of eight children and the younger of two boys, Pedro was born in the town of Luena, in a eastern province of Angola, Africa on November 18,1963. His was a middle class African family. His father was a postal worker and they had a 3-bedroon house. The family had been Catholic for generations, thanks to Portuguese Missionaries who preached the Gospel there over the years. He was baptized Pedro Bemardo Gabriel.

A stubborn streak showed itself early in life and he got the nick name cambuta rijo (meaning: short and tough) because he wanted to stand on his own, challenge others, and be quick with an answer. His audacity and tenacity served him well when it came to school work and he excelled.

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La Salette in Brazil

Untitled-1.jpgAt the outset we asked Fr. Isidro Perin, M.S.: “How is the message of La Salette heard in Brazil?” He told us: “Go visit the laity involved in La Salette ministries and ask them yourselves!” He gladly opened the doors for us to do so. In our trip of nineteen days, we made our pilgrimage to four La Salette Shrines. Some day we will visit Caldas Novas, which is now under construction. Here are some impressions we picked up in our travels. We are very thankful to those who allowed us to share a part of their life.

Rio de Janeiro: the message at the heart of the city

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