La Salette Worldwide
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Bp. Angelo Roncalli – eventually
elected as Pope John XXIII in
1958 – visited the Holy
Mountain and addresses the
pilgrims from the entrance of
the Basilica

As Catholics, we are part of the Church Universal and we have connections.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that we can call up the Pope any time we want. Although recently Pope Francis has shown himself to be quite approachable, even to the point of his making personal phone calls to some people who wrote to him about certain personal matters. Just imagine – receiving a telephone call and the person calling us says he is Pope Francis! This certainly shows that the Pope is sincerely interested in his people.

It is not a commonly known fact that within the Catholic Church, the veracity of special events such as apparitions are not decided upon by the Roman Pontiff but rather by the local bishop of the area in which the apparition happened. That is the way the La Salette Apparition was accepted by the Catholic Church – through the final approbation of Bp. Philippe de Bruillard on Sept. 19, 1851.

The next significant connection of the La Salette Apparition with “official Rome” was on April 18, 1879, when the La Salette Congregation was given Pontifical status “ad experimentum”, thus listing it in the officially accepted Catholic Congregations.

In that same year, on August 20, our Church on the Holy Mountain in France was consecrated and raised to the dignity of a Minor Basilica. The following day, Hippolyte Guibert, OMI, Archbishop of parish and Papal Legate, solemnly crowned the statue of the Virgin Reconciler in the newly consecrated Basilica.

Something that has always intrigued me as I traveled in various countries is the meaning of the name of towns, cities, rivers and areas. Often we don’t bother to understand their meaning. For example, over several years I have lived in Connecticut – which is a word in the Algonquin language for “place of the long river.”

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Piroque on the Tsiribihina River.
Apparently is river is actually crossable!
In the same language, Massachusetts means “at the great blue hill,” referring to a place southwest of present day Boston. In the Sioux language, Mississippi means “big river” and Missouri means “river where one needs a canoe.”

Bishop Donald Pelletier sent me some reflections on the names of various places in Madagascar:

“To give a word a negative meaning in the Malagasy language, the word “tsi” is used. A number of towns, villages, rivers and locations are given a negative name using this “tsi.”

“At times it is easy to understand why a negative connotation would be given, while at other times the exact reason for doing so isn’t really clear. The largest river in this area is the Tsiribihina – meaning “not crossable” – probably because of the large number of crocodiles inhabiting its river and banks.

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Aerial view of Shrine in Tramileno, Italy
Our Superior General, Fr. Silvano Marisa, M.S., was very impressed as a child by his yearly visit to the nearby La Salette Shrine in Trambileno, nestled in the mountains of the Trentino area of northern Italy. The lasting devotion to Our Lady of La Salette and the celebration of the 100th anniversary in 1956 of the apparition impressed him and led him to enter the La Salette Minor Seminary in Salmata, near Assisi, soon afterward.


Over a century and half ago, the population of the area was composed of many former emigrants who had repeatedly travelled to southeastern France for work during the summers, thus being close to the La Salette Shrine in France.

A nobleman named Rovereto wanted to express his undying gratitude to Our Lady for the care and hospitality that was given his son, who fled the area to escape the cholera epidemic and grew up strong and healthy. Urged by the deep devotion to Our Lady of La Salette in this area, he decided to build a Shrine in her honor on a nearby mountaintop.

Untitled-1Remembering is a mental exercise but in the later stages of life, it is can be more challenging. Remembering, however, is not simply recalling past experiences. It can become a movement of the heart, a journey of the soul. For we do not only ask the “what’s, “when’s”, and “how’s” of life but also seek the “why’s”.

The great philosopher Socrates once said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Some agree that all that has happened in the past – no matter how seemingly insignificant, good or bad, happy or sad – has happened for a reason. Everything has a meaning and purpose.

This year we La Salettes gathered in Australia not only because we wanted to commemorate the Philippines’ Independence Day (June 12) but also to celebrate our decade of La Salette presence in Armidale. Our celebrations drew us to reflect and see the hand of God working in all the events of our life and ministry in this vast and beautiful land with its warm and energetic people. We realize that nothing has ever happened on our journey without God’s knowledge of them.

Our coming together became a moving spiritual exercise when we looked at the events of the past ten years within the context of our faith. Those moments when we wept, laughed, learned, grew, smiled, felt frustrated or sad – all were “God moments”. We just have to be able to see them with the eyes of God.

Our Common Heritage, Mission and Charism

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Members of the General Administration
of the Sisters of Our Lady of La Salette
There is a definite communal connection among La Salette Missionaries around the world. It is a good but somewhat mysterious bond that crosses language and country boundaries. This bond also extends to the Sisters of Our Lady of La Salette since we are drawn together by our shared charism and spirituality of reconciliation, and our connections with the La Salette event, Shrine and message.

On July 2-3, 2013, a meeting was held between the General Councils (the top organizational groups) of each congregation to explore our connections and discuss where closer collaboration is possible. The discussions produced an array of agreements which express how much we have in common and what steps they see as advantageous to both our congregations.

Untitled-2As Fr. Silvano Marisa, M.S., Superior General of the La Salette Missionaries, stated: “We pray that the collaboration between our two Salettine families will continue to grow in order to become a more apparent sign of reconciliation, which is the common patrimony to both our Congregation. We pray that such a collaboration be not only a desirable objective, but that it becomes a reality in the pursuit of our common mission.”

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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.”