La Salette Worldwide

Recently I was reading about St. Paul’s missionary experiences in his second letter to the Christians at Corinth (11:18, 21-30). Wow! Now there was a wonderfully inspiring Mission Newsletter for the folks back home.


Paul’s Challenges in Ministry

Untitled-1(from left) Timothy, Titus and BarnabusHe was imprisoned, lashed five times and beaten with rods three times. Once he was stoned and on three occasions he was shipwrecked. And on top of all this he traveled thousands of miles on foot always under the threat of robbers, the Roman authorities, the pagans, Jewish leaders and he even experienced difficulties and tensions with some of his own fellow believers. He knew hunger, thirst, heat and cold. And during all these hardships while he was establishing new churches, he was expected to earn his keep by making tents. It is no wonder that we hold St. Paul in such high esteem. Truly he was a great missionary.


Supporters in Paul’s Ministry

BREWSTER, Mass. — As a seminarian at La Salette Seminary in East Brewster, Father Bernard Baris, M.S., remembered singing in the choir for the first official Mass celebrated at Our Lady of the Cape Parish on Christmas Eve in 1962.
Untitled-1Fr. Baris standing at the actual site of the La Salette Apparition in France (photo: Kenneth J. Souza, Anchor Staff)“Father Joseph A. Nolin, who was the founder of the parish, didn’t have a choir… so he asked some of the seminarians to come and sing for the midnight Mass,” Father Baris told The Anchor. “I came from the seminary here along with some of my other classmates — including Father André Patenaude (‘Father Pat’) — to sing for that first Mass. Standing up in that choir loft inside a church that wasn’t even finished yet, I never thought I’d someday return here to become pastor.”

In 1997, Father Baris was indeed named pastor of Our Lady of the Cape Parish, a place he’s called home for the past 17 years.

Moving to the Holy Mountain in France

Now at age 71, when many priests are beginning to think about retirement, Father Baris is preparing to enter a whole new phase of his ministry by becoming the director of the International Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette in France, built on the original site in the French Alps where the Blessed Mother appeared to Maximin Giraud and Melanie Calvat on Sept. 19, 1846.

The recent Conference held at the holy mountain of La Salette went very well. Being in the company of La Salette friends from the Philippines and acquaintances from other countries give me an opportunity to rekindle a wonderful feeling of La Salette fraternity.

Untitled-1Fr. Yves Simoens, S.J., the French Biblical scholar from Rome’s Gregorian University.The program began enriching presentations on La Salette Spirituality and the Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (The Gospel of Joy), by Pope Francis. They were for me an impetus for renewal of my religious commitment, deepening of my faith and gave me a renewed sense for my ministry.

Also we had time for group sharing and rituals of recognizing our blessings. This included an opportunity to bless others – for me an emotional and moving moment and a celebration of fraternal reconciliation.

We heard a full-day exposition of the Gospel of John by the French Biblical scholar, Yves Simoens, S.J., from Rome’s Gregorian University. It is packed with insights.

Just being here at the holy mountain of La Salette itself is a great blessing and a privilege. I can feel the powerful and graceful presence of God here. We have time for personal prayer and meditation as well as spending some quiet time, surrounded by these breathlessly majestic mountains.

Untitled-1Cluster of Baobob trees, also called the upside-down tree, can reach almost 100 feet tall with a trunk from 47 to 155 feet in circumference. Several years ago, during a return visit to Madagascar, a highlight of the long trip for me from Antsirabe in the high plateau to Morondava on the coast was getting to see some Baobab trees. We stopped to see a particularly majestic one right at the edge of the road. When I saw the hollow trunk, I remembered a picture from a grammar school geography text with the comment that these trees sometimes offered shelter to the natives of the land. It must have been the same tree (almost)!

Along the way there were also many mangroves, along with cultivated plots of banana trees and tapioca root, with the terraced rice and wheat fields dominating the countryside. Some fields had pineapples growing. In deserted areas there were fields full of ant hills, like hundreds of teepees, two to three feet high, red earth against the pale brown of tough wild grass.

As part of a larger group from Quézac, France, I had an opportunity of taking a trip to Madagascar with La Salette Sisters Elisabeth and Jacqueline. Together we visited their religious communities, and it was during one of those visits that we travelled from the town of Ambararatabe to the village of Bematazana, where we were received an incredible welcome.

While there, we were asked to meet with a group of local residents who were very determined to build a school for the town. The group was comprised of parents, members of the parish council, and local town authorities. This meeting had one clear purpose. They already had a plot of land, and had made 25,000 bricks. But they could proceed no further on their own. They asked us to help them.

Working Hard, Possessing Little

Untitled-1Children in their school room: on right is old schoolhouse; on left is their new oneWhen one considers that the village is small, very poor, and quite a distance from any large town, the steps they had already taken to build a school were enormous.

They had also set aside in the village a house where the sisters could live when they came to run the school. All these measures already set in place manifested their clear determination to provide a school for their children.

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La Salette Missionaries, Province of Mary, Mother of the Americas

Our Community: The Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette are deeply rooted in the Apparition of Our Lady of La Salette which occurred near the hamlet of La Salette in southeastern France on Sept. 19, 1846. The Missionaries were founded in 1852 by Bp. Philbert de Bruillard, Bishop of Grenoble, France, and presently serve in some 25 countries.

Our Province: The Province of Mary, Mother of the Americas, was founded in 2000AD and is one of several provinces in the congregation. The members of this Province serve mainly in the countries of Canada, the United States and the Region of Argentina/Bolivia.

Our Mission: Our La Salette ministry of reconciliation responds to the broad vision given by Mary at La Salette as well as in response to the needs of the Church. As reconcilers, we together with the laity take seriously Mary’s mandate: “You will make (Mary’s) message known to all (her) people.”