La Salette Laity in California
Following from my own experience and that of my wife, Isabel, at the First International La Salette Lay Encounter held on the Holy Mountain of La Salette in in France in September of 2011, we have been working to establish and expand a La Salette Lay Community in our parish in Moreno Valley, California. We are well aware that each La Salette Lay Community can be quite unique in its structure, formation, and ministry due to its own surroundings and the people who bring their gifts to the community.
On Saturday, May 4, 2013, our own La Salette Laity community gathered for prayer and formation. We discussed Mary’s words: “If you have wheat, you must not sow it.” This is a difficult question. After some prayerful exchange of ideas, it was suggested that people needed to be reconciled with God and then numerous blessings would follow. As Mary promised: “...even the stones will become heaps of wheat and the potatoes will be self-sown in the land.” These are the fruits of Reconciliation. This is the lifestyle to which we are all called.
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Laity As Reconcilers
Editor: Sometimes, even with the passage of many years, an opinion stands the test of time. This article is an example of just such an opinion, first expressed in an editorial in the La Salette International Publication, Reconciliare, from December of 1967, just two years after the close of Vatican II.
In the entire history of our Congregation, no truth has been more expounded and believed, no conviction has been more commonly stated, than our role as reconcilers. We have been a religious Institute founded for the specific purpose of converting sinners and of increasing “the number of souls devoted to Jesus Crucified and to Mary, the Mother of Sorrows” (older La Salette Constitutions, #2). In this context, to reconcile means to engage actively in the pursuit of those spiritually far-away souls who have abandoned religion and decided to go it alone, or of any Christian whose sole claim to Christian fame is the name. Is this our reason for existing as a Congregation? Is this our role in the Church?
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La Salette and Laity
There is something special about the message of La Salette that dawns on the reader like a surprise. The hierarchy, the priesthood, the clergy in any form or capacity are never mentioned.
|The two cowherds, witnesses to the
Apparition of La Salette in France
on Sept. 19, 1846
Maximin and Melanie were lay people. The Lady spoke of "my people" by which we presume she meant the entire world. She mentioned elderly women who were the only ones at Mass on Sundays; she spoke of Maximin's papa as well as of the farmer of Coin. She spoke of cart drivers and of "children under seven years of age" who "will be seized with trembling and die in the arms of those holding them."
Laity and Vatican II
The emergence of the lay person has been and continues to be one of the most important and the most visible characteristics of the post-conciliar Church. The phrase "the emerging layman" has been with us since the early sixties – even the sexist language (layman) smacks of that period. The notion is intimately connected with that of church: the Church is essentially composed of lay people.
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Life As An SSND Associate
Editor: We welcome Kimberly Grady, a regular in the A Nun’s Life Community as today’s guest blogger. Kimberly shares her journey as an Associate of the School Sisters of Notre Dame.
A couple years ago I began a process that is changing my life in ways I could have never imagined. I began the process of becoming a Lay Associate with the School Sisters of Notre Dame. I had kept in contact with a few nuns that taught me in grade school in Saint Paul, Minnesota, but never dreamed I would be joining the charism, mission, and community of SSND in a faith-changing way.
The sisters I knew were in their 80s or older and they could, sorry to say, walk circles around me. As I visited the various communities of SSND in Mankato, Minnesota, Chicago, and Saint Louis, I began to look at my own longing which seems like a lifetime ago. I was just 8 years old when I first sensed that longing and over the years I have discerned if I wanted to live my faith by being a religious sister.
Since that first longing, my journey has taken many wonderful turns. I married, raised a family, and have a full time career as a medical scientist. All the while I always kept close to my faith in many ways of commitment, service, and prayer. I really did not envision that my faith needed to gain any more momentum, as I was so involved in a variety of faith activities from being in the choir, a sacristan, a lector, a Eucharistic minister to being part of small group prayers, leading retreats, and even shepherding the scouts were a love and commitment.
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La Salette Associate’s Journey
Editor: On Oct. 1, 2011, Tim O'Brien and Marci Madary gave a day of reflection for our U.S. La Salette Associates in Attleboro, MA. I have put their notes together into this article to retrieve their wonderful insights about the vocation of La Salette Associates.
|Marci Madary leading the workshop
for La Salette Associates
Today we will give a general overview and understanding of the vocation to be a Lay Associates. Note that this is actually a vocation and not just an effort in volunteering. We will outline the mutuality of a Lay Associate community, and touch upon a new way of looking at the Christian vocation, based on a renewed understanding of vocation based on Baptism and Confirmation and not on the Priesthood or religious life. Also we will discuss the proper place of visioning and planning in the Association Community.
The Holy Spirit and the Lay Calling
Fr. Joe Bachand, M.S., the Provincial of the La Salette Missionaries in North America, commented that Vatican II stated that “you, the laity, find yourselves in the heart of the world. I think this puts you in an appropriate place for being aware of the injustice that binds people. This is why we need to listen to you. As La Salette Associates, you, like us La Salettes, are called to embody the message of reconciliation.”
We can certainly speak of the “vocation of Associates.” This idea of your calling or vocation is a relatively new concept in terms of laity in the Church. This vocation has always existed but often went unrecognized due to the limited view of the place and vocation of the laity as it was view in the Middle Ages.
Read more: La Salette Associate’s Journey
European Lay La Salettes Meet
|La Salette Shrine, Salmata,
Italy, near Assisi
rom Sept. 6-10, we gathered at the Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette in Salmata, Italy, for the “Second European Meeting of Lay La Salettes”. The meeting was attended by delegations of lay people from the four European Provinces of the Missionaries of La Salette (Italy/Spain, France, Poland, Switzerland). Also present were the La Salette Superior General, Father Silvano Marisa, accompanied by two of his General Counselors, as well as four European Provincials and representatives from the Sisters of Our Lady of La Salette with their own lay delegation.
In our Italian-Spanish delegation, our membership came from Rome, Turin, Terni and Spain! For some of us at the meeting there was the great joy of seeing each other again, exactly one year after the First International Meeting of Lay La Salettes at the Holy Moutain in France. For others it was an opportunity to meet people coming from different places, all united by the same love and attraction for the La Salette charism of reconcilation. It was an important opportunity for sharing and mutual enrichment!
The natural beauty of the Salmata Shrine and its own charm helped us to listen, reflect and prayer together during our days together! The theme of this European Meeting was: “Come near my children, don’t be afraid… to see, to judge, to act”.
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Argentina’s Laity Alive and Well
|Fr. Sullivan & Bro. Pedro,
with a group of active laywomen
t is nothing new to speak about the active role of the laity in the Argentine Catholic Church. For many people in the northern parish of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Las Termas, Santiago del Estero, the only Baptism available for many years was the one administered by the laity. Far from letting "the dead bury the dead," the laity of Las Termas were responsible for wake and burial services. Popular devotions like the Feast of St. Gil, drawing thousands of faithful every September, were totally conducted by the laity until fairly recently.
Argentina had such a shortage of priests that many rural Catholics never saw one. The faith was handed down from generation to generation through the ministry of the laity. And that happened thanks to the training of the missionaries who worked in the area many, many years ago.
Today in Argentina, as well as in Bolivia, the laity continues to be in the forefront. The formation of
Basic Christian Communities calls us to believe in the priesthood of the People of God.
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Ina Ng Pag-asa Lay Associates
Editor: The La Salette Missionaries in the Philippines share wonderful news about their many Lay Associates as the La Salettes make a concerted effort, highlighted by the La Salette General Chapter 2012 in “addressing the need for better communication in all areas and making plans for an expanded use of the Internet to publicize our media” in order to make Her message known.
|Lay Associates gather to share the
Passover Meal with some of the
La Salette Missionaries
The Circle of Reconciliation (CoRE) of La Salette Lay Associates hosted a night to remember. It was a spiritual journey from the Passover Seder to the Last Supper to the Holy Eucharist. (From Slavery to Freedom)
The CoRE is drawn by the Circle of Love of the Holy Trinity, and inspired by the Circle of Light as our Lady appeared at La Salette who visited us with a tearful appeal and maternal plea: “Be Reconciled to God”.
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Lay Ministry in the Church Today
|Pope Paul VI, who
continued and concluded
Vatican II after the death
of Pope John XXIII.
uring these years after Vatican II, the Holy Spirit continued to guide and broaden the Church’s appreciation of the theology of ministry and the place of the laity in it.
Pope Paul VI in 1972 established the offices of lector and acolyte as lay ministries. In so doing he declared: “Ministries may be committed to lay Christians. They are no longer regarded as reserved to candidates for the sacrament of orders.” The Pope’s declaration that ministry should be open to lay Catholics has been gladly accepted.
Several years later, Paul VI taught: “The laity can also feel called, or in fact be called, to cooperate with their pastors in the service of the ecclesial community, for the sake of its growth and life.”
Pope John Paul II spoke of lay ministries on many occasions. In 1988, he strongly urged pastors to “acknowledge and foster the ministries, offices, and roles of the lay faithful that find their foundation in the Sacraments to Baptism and Confirmation” (Christifideles Laici, 23).
Read more: Lay Ministry in the Church Today