About nine years ago, I was invited to serve as the Director of Communications for our Province of Mary, Mother of the Americas. From our beginnings we have grown a great deal.
We began with a very simple website (www.lasalette.org) and welcomed about 18,000 visitors a year to our site. In 2014 we welcomed about 300,00 visitors. And finally in 2015 we have grown to welcome about 550,000 visitors to our site!
We offer countless thousands of pictures to view of our alumni, our history and our various La Salette ministries around the world, past and present. In addition we have an archive of over 1,300 articles on the La Salette Apparition, the ministry of reconciliation and our Marian spirituality. Some articles have been visited over 83,000 times!
Since we as La Salettes have hosted about thirteen seminaries in various parts of the country over our nearly 115 years of ministry in North America, we have lots of alumni, whom we invite to look over their school pictures and yearbooks online and get in touch with wonderful memories. Our website visitors include people from as close as New England to as far away as India, Russia and China, Alaska and Australia.
In effect we have built a vast La Salette Digital Community who are interested in our community, its charism and spirituality, our history and ministry.
All About Reconciliation
Our purpose as the La Salette Communications Center is to “make Mary’s message known” – her parting words to the two young children at La Salette. Our most recent publications include the English and Spanish versions of the “La Salette Laity Handbook”, a pocket-sized prayer book with daily reflections on the message of Our Lady of La Salette.
Mary’s message at La Salette concerned following her Son more closely, praying daily, the importance of celebrating the Eucharist weekly and of participating in Lenten faith practices to keep our faith growing and deepening. She wants us to be reconciled with her Son, with ourselves and with those around us.
Learning Within the Family How to Communicate
Pope Francis’ message for the 49th World Communications Day (Jan. 23, 2015) reminds us that:
The womb which hosts us is the first “school” of communication, a place of listening and physical contact… our first experience of communication…
Even after we have come into the world, in some sense we are still in a “womb”, which is the family… A womb made up of various interrelated persons: the family is “where we learn to live with others despite our differences” (Evangelii Gaudium, 66)… The wider the range of these relationships and the greater the differences of age, the richer will be our living environment… (Also) It was in our families that the majority of us learned the religious dimension of communication…
In the family, we learn to embrace and support one another, to discern the meaning of facial expressions and moments of silence, to laugh and cry together with people who did not choose one other yet are so important to each other.
Pope Francis even touches upon topics mentioned by Our Lady of La Salette in her message on Sept. 19, 1846. He speaks about the challenges of family life:
…the family is where we daily experience our own limits and those of others, the problems great and small entailed in living peacefully with others. A perfect family does not exist. We should not be fearful of imperfections, weakness or even conflict, but rather learn how to deal with them constructively.
Then he describes the need for forgiveness, part of the process of reconciliation:
The family, where we keep loving one another despite our limits and sins, thus becomes a school of forgiveness. Forgiveness is itself a process of communication.”
As Mary complained about the irreverent use of her Son’s name, so too Pope Francis mentions the use of “foul language”:
“In a world where people often curse, use foul language, speak badly of others, sow discord and poison our human environment by gossip, the family can teach us to understand communication as a blessing… (I)t is only by blessing rather than cursing, by visiting rather than repelling, and by accepting rather than fighting, that we can break the spiral of evil, show that goodness is always possible, and educate our children to fellowship.
The family… is an environment in which we learn to communicate in an experience of closeness, a setting where communication takes place, a “communicating community”.
Our Ongoing Task – To Make Mary’s Message Known
Mountain of La Salette, showing the Basilica and Shrine facilities surrounded by French Alpine Peaks