Our Busy Holy Mountain
Summertime for many people is vacation time but here on the Mountain of La Salette in France this is our high season. It is an absolutely beautiful, peaceful place unless you minister to our pilgrims and many vacationing visitors. Most of the time I feel like I’m leading the life of a busy Martha in the gospel of Luke:
The stunningly beautiful Mountain panorama surrounding the La Salette Shrine on the Holy Mountain in FranceAs (Jesus and his disciples) continued their journey he entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary [who] sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.”
The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)
In this gospel lesson I hear that there are some who are called to be “Marthas” and some who are called to be “Marys”. Of course, I am busy being Martha most of my day.
Busy About Many Things
For example, each day, there is an average of 350 pilgrims sleeping here plus 150 staff and volunteers. That’s a lot of people to feed! The responsibility of the religious programs for the pilgrims is the Rector’s, Fr. Manuel dos Reis Bonfim, M.S. He is from Brazil and has been at the Shrine for three years now.
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La Salette in Myanmar – Growing Slowly But Surely
Fr. Philip Aung, M.S., presently Regional Superior of the Myanmar Mission.Fr. Philip Aung, MS, was born in the northern part of Burma (now Myanmar) in 1973. La Salette was well known in the country because of the work of the La Salette Missionaries which began in 1937. After finishing high school in 1991, Philip wanted to become a priest and learned about La Salette from a lay catechist. A nearby parish priest helped him discern his La Salette vocation.
Once in contact with Fr. Bernie U Mya Thein, MS – the only Myanmar La Salette at that time – he left home. Accompanied by the parish priest who had helped him in his vocational discernment, he traveled about half way across the country to Prome where there was still a very strong La Salette atmosphere. Here he waited two years to get his passport and visa.
In 1993 he journeyed to the Philippines for studies. Years of academic study followed. In May, 2004, Fr. Philip was ordained a priest. He tells us of how the present-day La Salettes came to be established at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary in Chantagone, Mandalay.
Efforts to Reestablish La Salette in Myanmar
Fr. Philip writes:
In the summer of 2004, I was traveling to the north of Burma to say my First Mass of Thanksgiving in my hometown. I passed through Mandalay City and a friend of mine unexpectedly brought me to visit a Marian Shrine which is about 15 miles outside the city. I never thought it would become a place where we would begin our mission.
Read more: La Salette in Myanmar – Growing Slowly But Surely
Burmese Courage and Hospitality
Editor: In this excerpt from the 1967 issue of the La Salette Mission Newsletter, we hear about the qualities of the Burmese people whom we serve in what is now called Myanmar. It is certainly true that as La Salette Missionaries, we receive far more than we could ever share.
Our faithful correspondent, Fr. John O'Reilly, M.S., sent the following interesting item.
Wonderful, Quiet Courage
Fr. John O'Reilly, M.S., accompanied
by his native catechis“A few days ago a young man from Rangoon, a Buddhist who is about to enter the Church, came to arrange his marriage with one of the girls from our village. The same night both he and his fiancé left on the night train to visit his parents in Rangoon and then to visit his unit in the Burma Air Force in Hmawbi.
“Shortly after midnight the train was mined by the rebels and machine-gunned. Ten people were killed and it would have been much worse had not the military escort driven off the rebels with accurate gunfire from their armored car on the train. Our young friends escaped unharmed, thank God, and continued on to visit his parents, following which he received permission at his unit to return here on the same train that had been attacked by the rebels on the way down. They were here a few minutes ago, and now all is ready for their wedding.
Read more: Burmese Courage and Hospitality
A New Library for La Salettes in Myanmar
The La Salette District Community of Myanmar has been in existence for the past nine years and we are truly blessed to have vocations. We have one seminarian in second year of theology, five seminarians in the second year of theology and three seminarians in philosophy studies as well as two aspirants who are preparing for the English Entrance Exam to Philosophy this year. There are a total of eleven seminarians and thirteen perpetually professed members. We are very thankful to God!
After having settled down in our ministries, the focus of our district community during these foundational years is to set up formation programs and formation houses. We now have a house for philosophy students in the town of Pyin Oo Lwin in the Mandalay Diocese, and construction of a novitiate house is being planned in the same locality.
from left: Fr. Bernie Taylor, M.S. with other Myanmar La Salettes; Fr. Phil Negley, M.S.; Fr. Lucas Swan Za Lian, M.S.; Church in town of Pyin Oo Lwin, near our House for Philosophy students
Read more: A New Library for La Salettes in Myanmar