Meet A La Salette
Fr. Silvano Marisa, M.S.,
newly-elected Superior
General, La Salette
Missionaries
Where were you born and raised?
 
I was born in northern Italy in the Province of Trento, in Boccaldo, a little village of only 66 people, nestled in the mountains.
 
My family were very simple peasant farmers – my father and mother, my three brothers and one sister. My parents, now deceased, were both from the same region. My father was born in our village, which was then under the previous Austrian empire until our liberation in 1918. My mother was born in a nearby village. My parents were married when they were both in their early 20’s. 
 
Boccaldo, the small mountain village
in which Fr. Silvano was born
How did you hear about the La Salette Missionaries?
 
Among the principal buildings of the nearby town of Trambileno stands the Sanctuary of Our Lady of La Salette. Located on a rocky outcrop overlooking the capital city, Moscheri, the sanctuary was built in 1856 with money from a noble donation of Rovereto and with the hands of itinerate townspeople who worked in France during the summer. They dedicated the Shrine to Our Lady of La Salette because her message expressed their own concerns as farmworkers: famine, potatoes and wheat.
 
The shrine has been well-known in the region. In fact, in 1956, we joyfully celebrated the centenary of our little shrine. On that occasion, a La Salette priest, Fr. Macario Caterini, came to preach the La Salette Triduum for that celebration. Our parish priest introduced me to Fr. Caterini, who had travelled from Torino. After we spoke, he invited me to join the Minor Seminary at Salmata since I was just 11 years of age at that time. I then made my Novitiate in Corps, France, my philosophy studies at Lyons and my Theology studies in Rome at the Gregorian University. I was ordained in Naples in our parish on Dec. 16, 1973.
 
What are some ministries in which you served?
 
After my ordination, I ministered to the youth in our area, taught Catechism, and preached retreats, among my other responsibilities. In 1982 I was elected as General Councilor when Fr. Eugene Barrette was Superior General. While in Rome I also worked in our Rome parish as a parish priest.
Afterwards, I was elected Provincial of the Italian Province for two terms and then was elected Vicar General of our community for the last six years while Fr. Dennis Loomis was Superior General. I was just been elected Superior General of the La Salette Missionaries at our General Chapter in April-May of 2012.
 
Bro. Juan’s statue of Mary,
gesturing to the children to
“Come near”
What draws you to the message of La Salette?
 
First, I am drawn by her words, “Come near, don’t be afraid.” In the scriptures we often hear God inviting people to come close and not be afraid. Also the incident at Coin is fascinating. It draws me because we see that God is present and involved in all the situations of our life. It shows that God is always attentive to us and our concerns. 
 
Even though we are sinners, God’s love is greater than our sins. And even if we aren’t aware of God’s love, God loves us just as we are! The great message in the event in the field of Coin is that God is always near to us, always present in our lives. He is, as the scripture says, “Emmanuel (God with us).”
 
The gift of reconciliation with God can happen when we realize that, even though we are sinners, God loves us still. Realizing this, we can more easily respond and draw closer to God. Mary showed all this in her merciful apparition at La Salette.
 
What are your hopes for the La Salette Community?
 
Like Mary, we need to offer love, support and encouragement to God’s people. In all our ministries, we need to pass on this message – in our parishes, through preaching retreats, reaching out to the needy and the poor. In whatever we do and wherever we serve, we need to share Mary’s message of reconciliation and peace.
 
Pope Benedict proclaims the “Year of Faith”
to the faithful at Sunday Mass at St. Peter’s
Soon we will begin the Year of Faith, proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI, beginning in October, 2012, the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, and concluding with the Solemnity of Christ the King (Nov. 24, 2013). The Pope explained the purpose of this special year as “proclaiming Christ to those who do not know him or have, in fact, reduced him to a mere historical character.” These people need reconciliation with their God.
 
We are invited to encourage a renewal of faith, of our relationship with God. As La Salettes, our life is centered on Christ; he is truly the “rule of our life” as our Rule reminds us (La Salette Rule, 5). This centrality of Christ is obvious from Mary’s apparition at La Salette, where she wore the “living”   
Crucifix, from which light shone while she was speaking with the two children. Christ is the center of the message of the apparition and he illumines the world. 
 
Lastly I hope and pray that the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette may become more numerous and are able to continue for many more years to invite “all her people” to fall more in love with Christ and his Holy Mother every day of their lives. 

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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.”