Each year we invite missionaries from various countries where we serve to be part of our preaching team in North America to ask support for our many La Salette Missions around the world. They share with many parishes here in North America their own missionary experiences – the way the Gospel is preached, understood and lived in a variety of cultures.

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Fr. Eugene Flores, M.S.

Several years ago we were pleased to have with us Fr. Eugene Flores, M.S., from the Philippines. Ordained in 2004, this was his first foray into another culture. He fared very well and was able to see a good portion of the U.S. while driving to his assignments. He is very likable and had no difficulty staying in a parish near Buffalo, NY, for a week to replace the vacationing pastor. The people loved him.

I believe one of the things that helped him feel at home very quickly was the fact that he was staying with Fr. Richard Lavoie, M.S., who was a missioner in the Philippines as a young priest. So they were able to share stories of places and adventures, also taking time to cook and enjoy eating some Filipino dishes. Fr. Gene has returned home now. Before leaving he wrote these words of appreciation:

“I am one of the fruits of your missionary labor in the Philippines.” That is what I said to Fr. Dick Lavoie, M.S., after realizing that he worked in the northern part of the Philippines in the early years of the La Salette Missionary presence in my homeland.

“For the last three years I have been working as Coordinator of the Vocation Promotion and Recruitment Program for the Filipino Province. Most of our seminarians are alumni of our La Salette School system in Isabela that was put in place by the first La Salette Missionaries who came here. I am confident that our continued presence in those elementary and high schools – as well as the University of La Salette – will be a source of grace for our Congregation and the Church.

 

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Mary appearing to the two
cowherds at La Salette

“As Vocation Coordinator I have the opportunity to visit those schools but also to expand my outreach to other regions of the country, thereby introducing the story of Our Lady of La Salette to people who have not yet heard it. With God’s providence this has brought pleasing results and we have about 20 seminarians from the southern part of the country.

“People are strongly attracted by the story of La Salette and I always have with me pictures that illustrate the story. People are in awe upon seeing our weeping Mother – most of them for the first time. Mary’s tears, shed at La Salette so many years ago, still touch people’s hearts.

“In this electronic age, when our youth so easily make use of websites, email and cell phones, I can often keep in touch – even from a great distance like being in America – with the young men interested in joining our community.

“We now have over 30 college seminarians. About 80% of them cannot pay their full college tuition and other financial responsibilities before entering novitiate. But thanks to generous benefactors and the funds coming each year through the La Salette Mission Center in St. Louis, we are able to help them meet their financial goals. In return for the financial support received each year for our seminarians, I was pleased to be at the Mission Center in St. Louis this summer and share in its mission preaching.”

Fr. Gene Flores can rightfully say with St. John the Evangelist: “For here the saying is verified that ‘One sows and another reaps’” (John 4:37).

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Three parts of the expansive campus of La Salette
University in Santiago City, Isabela, Philippines