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
He 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
And yet Paul would be the first to admit that by himself he could not accomplish anything. He recognized the movement of the Spirit in his ministry but Paul also acknowledged his dependency on such individuals as Timothy and Titus, Barnabas, the couple Prisca and Aquila and Lydia a dealer in purple cloth. All of these generously supported Paul as he established the Church in Philippi. And there were so many others whose names are unknown to us today. Yet their participation and assistance to Paul were exceedingly indispensable for the success of his missionary endeavors.
This month the Church celebrates this missionary tradition of supporting those ministering in the Church. For two thousand years men and women, not unlike you and me, have generously shared their time, talent and treasure in order to assist in bringing the Good News of Christ to others.
We, the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette thank all those who have, over the years, assisted us by sharing their time, talent or treasure in order to bring the Good News of Christ to others. Our many successes as La Salette Missionaries are the fruit of your missionary commitment.
Bringing Her Message to All Her People
Christ said: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit...” (Mat 28:19). And Mary at La Salette told the two children to make her message known to all her people. For many years that is exactly what we have been striving to do. I guess it is part of our spiritual DNA that we, as La Salette Missionaries, are not satisfied with spreading the Good News within the confines of our own locale or country.
For example in the very beginning our French La Salette Missionaries were not satisfied to minister solely on the Holy Mountain but began to expand and grow their work of God. They travelled to Norway, Madagascar and the United States, just to mention but a few of their missionary endeavors.
Sometimes the journey can seem to be a little convoluted. Consider the situation of our French missionaries establishing a foundation in Switzerland. We are perhaps familiar with our Swiss La Salettes establishing a mission in Angola. But the first Swiss priests actually went to Poland, not to serve there but rather to learn Polish so that they could serve the Polish speaking population in New England.
Over the years we have shone ourselves as seem willing and able to transform ourselves from being a newly established mission field to becoming, in short order, a mission-sending entity as well. For example it did not take long for our newly-arrived American La Salettes to follow this pattern. Early in their history the American Provinces were sending men to the Burma, Madagascar, South America and the Philippines. And now, in turn, our Filipino brothers have carried on this tradition by planting La Salette in India and reestablishing our presence in Burma.
What Goes Around Does Come Around
One of most the interesting features about mission is that it seems to follow the principle of “what goes around comes around”. And so it is no surprise to know that both our Filipino and Indian Provinces are in the process of establishing new ventures in Australia. Our Indian Province is also planting its roots in the Diocese of Paramatta, which is close to Sydney. And our Philippine Province is taking up their mission in the Diocese of Armidale, about 200 miles away from Sydney.
During the past few decades the Provinces in Western Europe and North America are now enjoying the additional assistance and support of our brothers from Angola, Madagascar, Burma, India, South America, and the Philippines. These transcultural experiences, interdependency and willingness to adapt to other cultures are essential elements of our being La Salette Missionaries.