Do You Love Me More Than These?
A Tribute to the Life and Ministry of Bp. Thomas A. Newman, M.S.
|Ordination picture of
Fr. Thomas Newman, M.S.
There are certain people who seem to be admired even by everyone. Bishop Thomas A. Newman, M.S., was just such a man. The following is a sermon given at his Funeral Mass in March, 1978, delivered by Very Rev. Fr. Frederick R. Flaherty, M.S., our La Salette Provincial at that time. It summarizes well the great qualities and accomplishments of this man from Waterbury, CT., who went on to serve God as priest and bishop for many years in Burma (now Myanmar).
In her much admired novel, Death Comes for the Archbishop, Willa Cather describes the missionary life of a French bishop, Jean Latour, among the Indians and poor Mexicans of the southwest. In telling the story of Bishop Latour's struggles she pays a sensitive and sympathetic tribute to all people who live out an adventure of spirit, who accept the absolute reality of Christ's gospel.
The missionary tradition of accepting the absolute reality of Christ's gospel is as old as the Church. There have been numberless missionaries since Paul of Tarsus who have gone forth in this fashion and the record is studded with inspiring names. Bishop Newman belonged to this tradition.
In 1937 Father Newman was teaching philosophy at the major seminary in Altamont, N.Y. He was ordained already eight years, and even then his contemporaries saw in him a priest of great promise. He would certainly be called to accomplish important tasks in the affairs and councils of the community. But other voices were calling, and they came from far away.
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La Salette and the Family – Togetherness and Fruitfulness
In her conversation with Mélanie and Maximin, the Beautiful Lady of La Salette refers to the families of their own time, and to their difficulties in life: famine, the death of small children, parents’ worries about feeding their family.
“Come near, children.”
Did Mélanie ever think of her house affectionately as her home? We do not know. As for Maximin, we are better informed, since the Beautiful Lady reminded him of a past conversation with his father, “Here, my child, eat some bread this year at least; I don't know who will eat any next year.” The wheelwright Giraud feared that his family soon would have no bread to eat, because the wheat harvest had gone bad. For the family of Mélanie, it was permanent misery. Her father did not have regular job. Mélanie had to leave the family home in early childhood, placed as a shepherd in farms of the surrounding villages. When one is in trying circumstances, even one less mouth to feed counts!
"In his own image he made them, male and female he created them.”
In her message, Mary speaks about the "six days” that God has given to us to work. At the ages of Maximin and Mélanie, Mary understood that they had learned in their catechism that God has created the world in six days, and, on the sixth day, God had endowed humankind with an intelligence and the ability to work. Such gifts could only give rise to feelings of gratefulness thanksgiving!
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Cooperation in Bolivia
Cooperation has always been the Mission of the Church. After all, it is Christ’s mission handed over to us, the baptized, to bring to fulfillment. At times it seemed that the mission was coming to a close. The “world” consisted of the Mediterranean basin and adjoining lands in Asia, Africa and Europe. Then they learned that the world was much bigger than previously thought. And the scope of Christ’s mission was enlarged to include the “new world.”
Inspired by the Spirit that opened the hearts of the Apostles at Pentecost, various missionary groups sprang up in the Church. Many had the burning desire to dedicate their lives while reaching out to save the “pagans” who knew nothing about Christ. Even though certain missionary congregations were give specific territories to evangelize, the prevailing attitude was that this is Christ’s work.
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Serving Our Pilgrims – in France and Attleboro
|In France, Fr. Marcel Schlewer, M.S. (right) and a
few La Salette priests sit with their guests
The La Salette Missionaries have Shrines all over the world. Two in particular, our main Shrine at the Holy Mountain in France and the National Shrine in Attleboro, MA., depend a great deal on volunteers in order to provide many services.
In France on the Holy Mountain:
At our La Salette Shrine on the Holy Mountain in France, a smile, a kind word and the meal can become a pleasant respite. All this thanks to our service team. They, along with the kitchen and dishwashing crews, are but the tip of the iceberg where the food service of the pilgrims is concerned. A kind smile and impeccable attentiveness go a long way to make for a relaxing meal.
During the summer a team of sixteen to eighteen people work with Laurance, the woman in charge of our Shrine food service. The volunteers and four of the salaried team members rotate serving the three daily meals. They are quite efficient at setting out the food, opening the doors for the pilgrims, helping those who might need assistance, selling drinks, managing the food carts, and finally cleaning the dining room.
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