Over 75 Years of La Salette in Brazil

We live in an age which constantly sweeps us up in a sea of change. This has influenced each of us and

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Fr. Adilson Schio, M.S.

has even affected the Church herself as she reinterprets some of her own ways of thinking. However we may still find it difficult to understand the implications of these changes.

My native country of Brazil is one of wide diversity: our mix of cultures, religious expressions, our economic outlook, our ecological and political principles are certainly not univocal. In the midst of this wonderful diversity, this coat of many colors, we find frequent opportunities to respond to these changes by living out the challenge of our La Salette charism of reconciliation. We are convinced that there will be no true fullness of life without accepting the challenge of a mission of reconciliation. Our mission always promotes harmony and justice among people.

 

Becoming at Home with Constant Change

Change is no longer as scary as it was in years past. In fact it is an invitation to greater possibilities. The reality of ongoing change invites us to grow into better, more critical and prophetic missionaries in today’s world.

Reconciliation, understood as prophecy (speaking the truth), and expressed in the pastoral care and various apostolates in our mission in Brazil, is one of the foundations of fundamental importance for our ministry. We try to make of it a new cycle of life for our consecration and mission.

In Brazil we are a missionary group of seventy religious men who explore our charism of reconciliation in all that we do. We seek to make it our pastoral and spiritual strength. Reconciliation is a real need and we will only be able to build it if we make of it an effective, real life experience.

 

An Important Meeting in Aparecida, Brazil

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Reconciliation in Czech Republic

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Fr. Jarek Boruçki, M.S.

My name is Fr. Jarek Borucki, La Salette Missionary and native of Poland. We as La Salettes have been called to serve in the nearby Czech Republic which is recovering slowly from several centuries of turbulent history. Since 1996, we have established four La Salette houses in parishes near the north central border area of the Czech Republic.

Committed to parish pastoral ministry, we operate in this country in small groups of La Salettes. Surprisingly and fortunately the apparition of Our Lady of La Salette is well known in the Czech Republic. We have no doubt that we have an important role to play in promoting the spirituality of reconciliation. Yet, in all honesty, it must be said that in 1968, our home country of Poland assumed a shameful role in the suppression of the Prague Spring! But now, even as Polish religious, we seem to be a little better accepted.

In the Czech Republic, because of the long history of persecution of the Catholic Church, the number of Czech practicing Catholics are few. The communities are therefore in great need of priests to renew their faith and lead them. In fact, many Catholic parishes had remained underground for several decades due to the Communist government.

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La Salette Shrine in India – 1866

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Front entrance of La Salette
Shrine Church with Stations
lining the steps on both sides

When we think back to the very humble beginnings of the La Salette Apparition in 1846 and its great expansion over the next century and a half or more, we don’t expect that those who visited the Holy Mountain – and there were thousands of pilgrims each year – would, in turn, bring the La Salette devotion, in accordance with Mary’s wishes, to “all her people.” Yet this is true; many pilgrims spread the message and devotion to the Weeping Mother of La Salette.

 

Many years ago…

An example of this is the early establishment of a small La Salette Shrine in the hill country of Kodaikanal, in the state of Tamil Nadu in southern India, east of Karala. It has been home to the Shrine of Our lady of La Salette (here spelled “La Saleth”) for over 150 years.

The shrine is situated on a mountain which is 7,000 feet above the sea level. It gives an panoramic view of the neighboring mountains. The La Salette Shrine was the first Catholic church in Kodaikanal and was funded by a generous donation of a Belgian woman who wanted to thank Our Lady of La Salette for the cure of her daughter.

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Our Lady of the Oak

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Facade of Church of
Notre-Dame du Chêne

The Missionaries of La Salette, founded upon the event of the Apparition of La Salette, have taken pastoral care of their own Shrine on the Holy Mountain in France. Over the past 150 years, they have also been invited to take over the pastoral care of other shrines to Our Lady in France including L’Hermitage in Noirétable, Notre Dame de Thau in Sète, and Notre Dame de Pipet in Vienne.

In November of 2007, they received an invitation to take care of the Shrine of Our Lady of the Oak. They gladly accepting this responsibility and officially took charge of the shrine during a solemn celebration on December 8, 2007.

The Shrine of Our Lady of the Oak lies in the heart of the magnificent Loue Valley, near Ornans, 180 miles north of Grenoble and near the Italian border. In this part of the country, the advent of mild weather marks the arrival of numerous pilgrims and tourists. They are probably not aware that here in this picturesque area – long before the apparitions at Lourdes, La Salette and Pontmain – an extraordinary event occurred.

 

A Special Day, A Blessed Event

The restoration of Catholic worship that followed the Concordat in 1802 made it possible for the little parish of Maisières at Scey-en-Varais to organize a solemn celebration of First Holy Communion, the first such celebration since the dark days of the French Revolution. Thirteen-year-old Cécile Mille was among the first communicants in the following year.

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A Missionary named Marie Claire

The village is called Mahavavy, on the northwest coast of Madagascar. It is a rather strange name. Even the Malagasy who travel through do not always grasp the meaning of Mahavavy.

 

Tribal War

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Sakalava people: their name means
"people of the long valleys."

During the eighteenth century when tribal wars were a way of life there would have been an important battle by the river that now gives its name to the village. The royal army from the Merina kingdom of the high plateau was on the north bank of this rather small river while the Sakalava army – those local costal people who would be defending their land – was on the south bank. When they engaged in battle the Sakalava army, very much outnumbered, would have fled in fear and shame. Thus the name of the river and area: Mahavavy – “That which makes [a warrior] into a woman.”

For years it was just another isolated non-Christian village in the bush. During three months of the year an occasional truck loaded with tobacco or a Jeep would venture over the dirt track that lead through the village. In 1978 thirteen bridges were built in this valley, known as the Betsiriry – meaning “Where everything grows” – and a paved road opened up the entire area between Morondava and Antsirabe – two dioceses that the La Salette Missionaries began. I myself drove through 10 or 20 times a year and never thought of stopping to bring the Good News. Priests and nuns also never stopped to see if people were interested in accepting Christ into their loves. We would drive through – always in a hurry to get somewhere else, always too busy to stop.

 

Marie Claire Arrives

 

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