Meet A La Salette

What is your family and personal background?

(from left) the town of Sundgau, Alsace,
France and the Church of Our Lady of the Snows
My name is Pierre (Pierrot) Zaessinger. I was born in Alsace, France, on Jan. 21, 1950, in the small historic village of Sundgau, a calm and quiet village like that of La Salette. It has a small chapel dedicated to Our Lady of the Snows and through that I was intimately aware from an early age about veneration of the Blessed Virgin. I have cherished memories of the special processions and especially our celebration of the feast of Mary’s Assumption celebrated on August 15th.

At the age of twelve, I made a pilgrimage with my mother to the La Salette Shrine. I remember well the site of the Apparition with its three statues of Our Lady. I also remember the stunningly beautiful surroundings, and the singing the refrain of the La Salette Hymn: "Virgin of La Salette, our hearts belong to you. On this, your holy feast day, send blessings from above..." I often hum this lovely melody in my heart. And I vowed to return one day to that most beautiful place.


Pierrot Zaessinger & Sr. Marie-Victoire,
SSND at a meeting on the Holy Mountain
After I graduated from school, I became a Professor at the Agricultural Institute at Cheylard in Ardèche. It was there that that I met the woman who would become my wife. There I also met a young Malagasy Sister, who came to learn about Agricultural techniques, a student in my class for adults – Sister Marie-Victoire. The Blessed Virgin certainly arranged for me to meet this wonderful La Salette Sister.

A year later, on July 27, 1974, I married Patricia (Patou) and for our honeymoon, we went to La Salette. We both have stayed in contact with Sister Marie-Victoire and saw her often at La Salette in the 1980’s.

We have four children (a girl, their only child and three adopted children; all are disabled) and three young grandchildren.

How and why did you decide to become part of the La Salette Associates?

If you don’t mind, from now on I will answer your questions as a couple, myself and Patou. In 1998, we found ourselves in Gières with friends that also knew Sister Marie-Victoire. In her position as Superior General of the La Salette Sisters, she asked us to help her mission in Madagascar. Thus the Association for Aid and Support to the Action of the Sisters of Our Lady of La Salette (AASA-NSDS) was founded in 2001.

From the very beginning, my wife, Patou, was part of the Board. On my part, I got involved at the beginning of 2003, as Deputy Secretary – that is, Patou's secretary. Then I got involved in the Communication area of the associates by getting involved in the area of commission (forming explanatory presentations, etc.). We began publishing a weekly newsletter entitled, "Moving Forward Together" in 2005, and since my retirement in 20ll, I have established a website.

What does La Salette and Our Lady mean to you?

The First La Salette International Lay Encounter in
September of 2011 on the Holy Mountain
La Salette is for me, of course, a treasured childhood memory. However I do confess that I have only discovered La Salette spirituality over the past ten years. The highlight of the 160th anniversary of the apparition in 2006, was my initiation into the spirituality of La Salette and its charism of Reconciliation.

My wife, Patou, had a wonderful experience at the first La Salette Sisters’ Chapter that was open to La Salette laity, held in the Philippines in 2004. From then on, I began to discover the depth and meaning of the message of La Salette. With the Sisters of La Salette, we began with a close friendship and then progressed to helping them and now we are also tied to their mission. We participate in the mission of the La Salette Family.

Two years ago, we committed to live this La Salette spirituality with the Sisters of Our Lady of La Salette at a Ceremony of Consecration to Our Lady of La Salette at the Chapter Meeting in Quezac in south-central France in May of 2010. Then in September, 20ll, I had the joy to participate in the First International La Salette Lay Encounter at the Holy Mountain of La Salette, which allowed me to further deepen my appreciation of the message of the Beautiful Lady. Now I feel fully involved in the La Salette Family — its charism and spirituality.

What is the Purpose of the AASA-SNDS?

The purpose of the “Association for Help and Support of the Sisters of Our Lady of La Salette” (MSASNDS) in the World” is to "support projects and promote the development of actions of the Sisters of Our Lady of La Salette, for material donations, finances and volunteers in the spirit of reconciliation and in service to the poor."

Our association has grown little by little always with the assistance and friendship of the Sisters across the world. Today we number a little more than one hundred members in France.

The purpose of our website is to help others learn more about our actions, to encourage vocations for the sisters and increase our La Salette Family. We send out our free newsletter every week.


The La Salette Sisters with the La Salette Associates in 2011 on the Holy Mountain; Pierrot third from right

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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.”