La Salette Sisters
I first heard about the Apparition of Our Lady of La Salette when I was just twelve years old. At that time I was a student at La Salette of Aurora, a Catholic High School run by the La Salette Missionaries in Isabela, a province in the northern part of the Philippines. My father enrolled me in this school because he wanted me to be close to God.
What captured my attention and challenged my curiosity about the apparition was the initial greeting of the Beautiful Lady to the children: “Come near, my children, do not be afraid. I am here to tell you great news.” How tender, how pleasing, how reassuring were those words to my ears. Almost instantaneously, I believed in my heart that she was personally addressing those powerful words to me. But I often wondered how good her news was because she was crying for the entire time she spoke! I wanted to know how this could be. These reflections have left a deep impression on me. They remained with me no matter how much I tried to dismiss them or convince myself that I worry too much.
As the years went by, I grew up and moved on, got a degree and found a good job. But still there was something tugging at my heart. I was seeking something but I didn’t know exactly what it was. I had yet to discover my vocation, my proper place in this world. Strangely, despite the many changes that occurred in my life, those initial words I heard long ago about the La Salette event kept tugging at my heart, like a small playful puppy, following me, urging me to pursue that “good news” about which the Beautiful Lady spoke. 

A Death and My New Life

At this point, my father died suddenly. With his passing, my life was temporarily brought to a stand still. Being the oldest of six children whose ages ranged from five to nineteen years old, I was compelled to set aside my personal ambition in order to help my mother adjust to the sad situation and to help finance my youngersister’s college education. In our Filipino ulture, children in the family feel responsible to help one another when the parents become incapacitated. Although there is nothing obligatory about this custom, the older child freely and lovingly would, would generally assume responsibility to help the one below him or her. Then this one who was helped will do the same to the next one and this practice continues on and on down the line. 
After three years, the call to religious life finally knocked at my door. I decided to enter the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of La Salette. It was in this situation, through my study, reflection and prayer that the entire event of La Salette gradually unfolded itself for me. I found that this “revelation” of the message of La Salette is an ongoing process – ever unfolding and far from completion. I keep learning something new.
Now I see more clearly and I believe that the  La Salette Apparition has its place as part of God’s salvific plan. Everything about Mary at La Salette – her words and gestures, the light that enveloped her, her radiant beauty, her ordinary dress, her tears and many more details – support the fact that this Beautiful Lady was none other than the Blessed Virgin Mary, Jesus’ Mother and ours. Her Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, sent her to that alpine mountaintop to remind us once again that the good news is that God loves us and wants us to experience and cherish his love, forgiveness and reconciling presence.
Mary spoke in her Son’s name. She reminded us that, since we have refused to give her Son proper respect – for the Lord’s Day and her Son’s name – we have separated ourselves from him who is the only source of life. Now we are faced with tragic consequences: starvation and death, and other dreadful consequences due to our obstinacy.
Jesus used the tears of his own Mother to touch our hearts, hoping that we might be moved to repentance. Mary came not only to speak the words of her Son. She also showed her motherly care for us, her wayward children. Working behind the scenes, nothing escaped her attention. Seeing dangers approach, she constantly interceded for us but we paid no attention. “I myself pray for you unceasingly” she said.

Prison Ministry and the Present-Day “Lost Sheep”

What connection does the message of Mary at a Salette have with my involvement in prison ministry? Well, the focus of this ministry is caring for those who have grievously harmed society, who are isolated because of their crimes. Like the lepers of old, they are looked down upon, forced out of the community to live in the wilderness.
Yet, looking at them with the eyes of Jesus, they do need to be brought back to the fold — reconciled in some way. They are the present-day “lost sheep”, the “prodigals” in the scripture who have need of repentance and forgiveness. The reason for this is because they, no less than we, are children of the very same God. They have the same worth and dignity, and are loved by God unconditionally regardless of the crimes or sins they have committed. Like us, they too should be welcomed back with open arms by our merciful Father – and us. In my prison ministry, I feel that my job is to welcome and minister to them on behalf of a society still afraid of and angry with them. In a real sense, in my prison ministry I am Christ’s ambassador, offering them reconciliation, God’s nonjudgmental presence if they choose to accept it.

“For I Was in Prison and You Visited Me”

The message of Mary at La Salette is startlingly all-inclusive. She addresses her words to all her people. From Jesus’ own perspective, one of the main focuses of his ministry was working with the poor, the marginalized and the mostwith the poor, the marginalized and the most vulnerable. He repeatedly went out of his way to seek out the sick, the hungry, the homeless, and the imprisoned. He identified himself with them and his heart went out to them.vulnerable. He repeatedly went out of his way to seek out the sick, the hungry, the homeless, and the imprisoned. He identified himself with them and his heart went out to them.
In the passage from the gospel of Matthew about the final judgment, Jesus describes the king as saying to the righteous: “‘For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me… Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did it for me’” (Mt 25: 35-36, 40). If this is true, this means that the measure I now use to serve the inmates will be the very same measure that Jesus will use at my final reckoning. I’d better shape up – but so should we all!

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La Salette Missionaries, Province of Mary, Mother of the Americas

Our Community: The Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette are deeply rooted in the Apparition of Our Lady of La Salette which occurred near the hamlet of La Salette in southeastern France on Sept. 19, 1846. The Missionaries were founded in 1852 by Bp. Philbert de Bruillard, Bishop of Grenoble, France, and presently serve in some 25 countries.

Our Province: The Province of Mary, Mother of the Americas, was founded in 2000AD and is one of several provinces in the congregation. The members of this Province serve mainly in the countries of Canada, the United States and the Region of Argentina/Bolivia.

Our Mission: Our La Salette ministry of reconciliation responds to the broad vision given by Mary at La Salette as well as in response to the needs of the Church. As reconcilers, we together with the laity take seriously Mary’s mandate: “You will make (Mary’s) message known to all (her) people.”