Myanmar's Sisters' Profession

Five junior La Salette Sisters renewing their vows

On February 3, 2011, the Sisters of Our Lady of La Salette (SNDS) community celebrated the first profession of  two sisters who serve in the Diocese of Myitkyina, Myanmar. The two novices who took their first vows were Sr. Maria Ja Hkawng, SNDS, and Sr. Nang Zing Kai Ra, SNDS. Also five junior La Salette Sisters renewed their religious vows on the same day: Sr. Cecilia Kaw Ja, Sr. Rosa Htu Raw, Sr. Monica Seng Aung, Sr. Margaret Ei May Kyin and Sr. Angela Sut Kyin.

Bishop Francis Daw Tang, Bishop of Myitkyina, was main celebrant. About twenty priests concelebrated including four La Salette Priests, Fr. Bernie Taylor, Fr. Efren Mugsni, Fr. Jerome Eiphan and Fr. Philip Naw Aung.

Sr. Elizabeth, General Superior of Sisters of Our Lady of La Salette, came from France to accept the vows of her sisters. Sr. Marilyn Antonio, SNDS, a member of General Council from

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La Salettes in Myanmar

Frs. John Blumm, John Good, Stephen Dressell, Bp. Thomas Newman,
Louis Perpete, Charles Gendron, John OReilly, and Francis Lucey

By the end of this year, if we La Salettes who are presently serving in Myanmar add up the total years of our priesthood, surprisingly it will add up to eighty-seven years! I am 40 years of priesthood; Philip, Jerome, David and Nicodemus – seven years; Thomas – four years; Valentine, Patrick and Lucas – three years; and the last group – William, Robert and David - two years each. We would not have been able to do this without your prayers and support. We thank God for putting you in our lives! With your ongoing prayers and support, we will continue doing great things!

This year also begins our preparation for the seventy-fifth anniversary of the arrival of the first La Salette Missionaries in Burma (now Myanmar). The main celebration will be held on November 9, 2012. That's that day in 1937 when five missionaries arrived under the leadership of the Bishop Thomas Newman, M.S.

They started with about two hundred Catholics. When we – Philip, Jerome, David, Nicodemus and myself – re-established the La Salette mission here in 2005, we were in a similar situation, albeit in a different area of Burma. We also were ministering to about two hundred Catholics. But we

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Lay Movements

(left to right) Bps. Pelletier, O'Malley and Hennessey 
standing in front of entrance to “Domus Galilaeae"

Ever since Vatican II, the Catholic Church has officially welcomed many new lay movements including the Focolare Movement, Communion and Liberation, the Community of Sant'Egidio, L'Arche (Jean Vanier), the Neocatechumenal Way (Kiko Argüello), Foyers de Charité (Marthe Robin) and the Catholic Charismatic Renewal.

Pope John Paul II stated that: “The expression New Evangelization was popularized in the encylical of Pope Paul VI, Evangelization in the Modern World, as a response to the new challenges that the contemporary world creates for the mission of the Church.” He also said that the mission Christ entrusted to the Church is still far from completion, and that it requires strong commitment.

Entrance to “Domus Galilaeae” in Israel

In June, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI created a new Vatican office dedicated to a “renewed evangelization.” He stated: “There are regions in the world that still wait for a first evangelization; others that received it but need more profound work; others still in which the Gospel put down roots a long time ago, giving place to a true Christian tradition, but where in the last centuries – with complex dynamics – the process of secularization has produced a grave crisis of the sense of the Christian faith and of belonging to the Church.”

As a La Salette and retired bishop of Morondava, Madagascar, I myself was recently invited to an international meeting of Bishops at the “Domus Galilaeae,” on the Mount of the Beatitudes in Israel.

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Indian La Salettes in Australia

Fr. Ray Vaillancourt, M.S. (left), visiting
with Fr. Joy Chukkananickal, M.S., at his
Rectory at St. Monica’s Parish in Richmond

Recently I had the opportunity to visit New Zealand and Australia. Part of the purpose in visiting New Zealand was to honor a promise made when I worked at our La Salette General House in Rome more than 40 years ago. I was good friends with a Marist Brother, Hugh Peacock. One day we decided that we’d like to make a mutual pact to visit each other’s homeland one day. Years ago he visited me in the United States and this year I completed my part of the bargain. I spent about three weeks with him and his community, recalling our memories of working and living in Rome and visiting his stunningly beautiful country.

While “down under,” I chose to take a side trip and visit for a few days with our Indian La Salette confreres ministering in Australia. I was warmly greeted by Frs. Mathew Manjaly, Peejay Porathur and Joy Chukkananickal. Fr. Sonny Poovathumkudy was away during my visit. They are situated in Werrington, which is a suburb of Sidney, about a 90-minute train ride, in New South Wales in southeast Australia.

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The Madagascar Miracle

Icon of St. Thérèse of Lisieux

I remember a special event of some years ago. In a country where ancestral worship is an essential tenet of the traditional religion (animism), it is not surprising that the relic of St. Thérèse of Lisieux would provoke popular interest and enthusiasm in Madagascar. For over a month the relic traveled by helicopter to the four corners of the island.

In every diocese tremendous crowds came out to acclaim and praise God’s love revealed in St. Theresa. The Diocese of Morondava was scheduled to host the relic for only one day but, because of sudden inclement weather, the relic remained in Morondava an extra 24 hours, thus disrupting the schedule for the remainder of the visit.

Though many cures and miracles were reported during the month long visit, during which over four million people venerated the relic, only one miracle has an authentic medical certificate signed by a high ranking Protestant University Professor from Antananarivo. A ten year old girl – Priscilla – was cured in Antananarivo, and she is from the town of Mahabo in the diocese of Morondava.

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