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.

Of course, every day we participate in the candle light procession, community prayers, celebration of Mass in various languages. We have three translators to help us communicate and understand in English, French, Portuguese, Polish and Spanish. Our group consists of 27 participants: two from Argentina, three from Brazil, two from France, one from India, three from Madagascar, one form Italy, three from the Philippines, the four of us from North America (Thomas Vellappallil, Eugene Barrette, John Sullivan and myself), and four from Poland.

Untitled-2Fr. William Kaliyadan, M.S.Directing this entire conference we have members from the General Council: Frs. Silvano Marisa, Adilson Schio, Joe Bachand and Alex Valummel. We eat each day – with the requisite French wine and cheese – with the countless pilgrims who come to this Shrine from all over the world. There are more than 100 teenage volunteers from Poland and other European countries who spend a month of free service and about 50 paid staff who help run this magnificent Shrine.

The weather was very good and quite conducive for walking or jogging. Almost every day I was able to hike the magnificent mountains surrounding the La Salette Sanctuary or take a long walk on the steep roads to La Salette.

Indeed, this was a humbling and prayerful experience — to soak in the beauty of God’s creation and feel God’s presence while surveying these panoramic mountains. I thank God for my time on the Holy Mountain of La Salette.
Untitled-3(from left) Panorama of the La Salette Shrine in France surrounded by a sea of clouds; the Conference Group of La Salettes; the Holy Mountain during the candle procession.