When someone asks what I do for a living, I mention that I am a La Salette Missionary. Their next question often is “What is a La Salette?” For all those who have similar questions, I want to share with you the “who, what, where, when and how” of my own religious community.
Who are the La Salette Missionaries?
We are a Catholic Religious Community of men and women, founded on the apparition of Our Blessed Lady to two teenagers in the small village of La Salette in the French Alps on Sept. 19, 1846. Her message imbues and inspires our life and mission. We devote ourselves to the charism (or special mission) of reconciliation.
What is the Apparition of Our Lady of La Salette?
Mary’s message to the two children at La Salette was the warning of a mother concerned over her wayward children.
• She complained: “If my people refuse to submit, I will be forced to let go the arm of my Son” and more specifically: “Those who drive the carts cannot swear without using my Son’s name...they labor all day Sunday...there are none who go to Mass... when they do not know what to do, they go to Mass just to make fun of religion...”
• She warned: “If the harvest is ruined, it is only on account of yourselves...If you have wheat, you must not sow it. Anything you sow the vermin will eat...A great famine is coming...” She promised: “If [my people] are converted, rocks and stones will turn into heaps of wheat, and potatoes will be self-sown in the fields...”
• She pleaded: “Well, my children, make this known to all my people...” All had been said. The Lady climbed the narrow path that led out of the ravine. The Lady looked toward heaven, then gazed down to the southeast. Slowly she seemed to “melt away” within the light.
Our La Salette Mission:
Being founded on the La Salette Apparition by the local Bishop in 1852, we, as a worldwide religious community of priests, brothers and sisters, have as our specific mission the ministry of reconciliation which includes:
• challenging people to ongoing conversion of life, as Mary did at La Salette • working to reconcile sinners to themselves, to God and to the Church.
• ministering to those the world looks down upon and to those alienated from God or the Church.
• proclaiming, as Missionaries, the Good News where it is not yet known.
• promoting non-violence and work with victims of conflict and division.
• valuing respect and promote conservation of all God’s creation.
Our Community and Religious Life:
As religious, we live in a community which is open, friendly, mutually supportive, hospitable and joyful. It calls each La Salette to live peacefully with a variety of temperaments, personal histories and styles.
We profess the three vows:
• poverty—we live simply and modestly; our poverty focuses on using our energies, talents, time and resources for the good of other people. We vow to live as Christ did, believing that people are more important than things.
• chastity—we give the Lord our preferential love as we witness to the Kingdom that is to come; our chastity expresses our willingness to be available to all, not exclusively to one person or to one family.
• obedience—we live in total availability to Christ and to our neighbor. As Jesus obeyed his Father’s will, we vow to find and to follow the lead of God in our life and ministry. We do all this, supported by the love and concern of our fellow La Salette Missionaries. We share a common bond and learn together how to serve the people of God as reconcilers.
Our Daily Faith-Life:
We come together regularly to pray. Community prayer, especially the Eucharist, is the chief source from which we derive the faith and love we need so that we may carry out our mission. Being founded on the Apparition of Our Lady of La Salette to two children on Sept. 19, 1846, her message imbues and inspires our life and mission. Our charism of reconciliation is based on her words in her merciful apparition.
Basic Steps in Becoming a La Salette Missionary:
The Purpose of Our Formation Program: The goal of our entire formation program is for the person to reach full maturity and form a well-developed personality capable of meeting the needs of community life and the mission of the Church. We integrate our La Salette charism of reconciliation with the human, intellectual and Gospel values crucial to a happy community life and fulfilling ministry. Formation is a time of reflection, assessment and discovery. Through this process, both the candidate and his directors strive with the help of the Holy Spirit to discover the will of God for the person.
First Step—Affiliation (Inquiry or Initial Connection)
The first step in discernment is to contact a local La Salette Missionary or speak with the La Salette Vocation Director, who can offer information about the La Salette Missionaries, their life, mission and ministries. With the Vocation Director you will discuss the decision-making and application process as well as requirements. All this happens while you continue your work or schooling.
Second Step—Candidacy (Experience of La Salette Community Life & Formal Application)
This step involves two stages:
1) brief live-in experience: This is completed at a designated La Salette House and lasts at least one month. It also involves assessments by the candidate, and the community in which he lives.
2) complete a formal application: This includes the writing of an autobiography, submission of an extensive application form, academic transcripts, financial reports, letters of recommendation, a criminal history background check, medical examinations, psychological testing, and letters of recommendation. After all the materials are submitted to the Vocation Director, the completed application is read by the Review Board and its recommendations are sent to the Provincial who makes the final decision about admission of the candidate.
Third Step—Postulancy (Preparation for Entrance)
This step requires a full live-in experience and involves becoming a full-time member of a La Salette Formation Community and is a proximate preparation for the Novitiate. Ordinarily postulancy lasts from six months to two years and begins with a formal ceremony of acceptance. Faith development through adult education classes is encouraged during this time. Prerequisite studies may be allowed. However it is not appropriate for the postulant to have a full-time job or be a full-time undergraduate or graduate student. Postulancy also allows the community to reach an initial judgment concerning the candidate’s life of faith, the sincerity of his interest, and his potential to progress towards a greater maturity. Toward the end of the Postulancy and upon recommendation of his Director, the postulant can present his request for admission to the Novitiate to the Provincial.
Fourth Step—Novitiate (Experience of the Vowed Life & Entrance Into Our Community)
The Novitiate year is described in the La Salette Rule of Life as: 1) The Novitiate increases the candidate’s understanding of the mystery of Christ and the role of Mary so that his whole life may be imbued with the spirit of the Gospel. 2) It leads the candidate to appreciate and live the religious life and to be penetrated by the mystery of reconciliation and the relevance of the teaching put forth in the La Salette event. 3) It provides a setting for prayer, reflection and study, an intensive experience of community life and formative apostolic activity. Thus the candidate will be equipped to commit himself freely and maturely to the life and mission of the Congregation.” (Rule of Life, 34) During the novitiate, the novice begins to live the life of the vows in community, and learns the history, traditions and spirituality of the La Salette Missionaries. The novice participates in an evaluation process twice a year, including a self-evaluation and an evaluation by the Director of Novices. Toward the end of the Novitiate, upon recommendation of his Director, the Novice can present his request for admission to temporary commitment to the Provincial.
Fifth Step—Post-Novitiate (Theological Studies and Ministerial Experience)
The La Salette Rule of Life describes this step as: “Post-novitiate formation provides the new member with new opportunities for his human and religious development and leads him to perpetual commitment in the consecrated life of the Congregation. It provides for the need of integrating within himself theory and practice, faith and life, prayer and pastoral involvement.” (Rule of Life, 35) The primary thrust of this level is continued preparation for ministry and support in the living of religious life. The newly professed takes on a full share of the life of his community. This program includes, both candidates for priesthood as well as those who are brothers; thus the following areas are defined:
a) Profession: The student in temporary commitment ordinarily renews his vows every year, on or about the anniversary of his profession. At the end of the period of temporary commitment, the member can request to be admitted to perpetual profession.
b) Ministries: • Priest:A vowed La Salette who wishes to live religious life as a Priest must first complete at least three years of theology, a course in homiletics, and receive perpetual vows. Then the student, with the recommendation of the director, may request ordination to the Deaconate. Request for ordination to the priesthood may be made during Deaconate.
• Brother:A vowed La Salette who wishes to live religious life as a Brother also is required to continue his theological and pastoral studies for three years before entering full-time ministry.
c) Evaluations:The above transitions require evaluations completed by both the student and his Director of Formation in cooperation with the Provincial Council. Note: The Sisters of Our Lady of La Salette have nearly 200 members serving in eight countries (France, Brazil, Madagascar, Philippines, USA, Poland, Angola and Myanmar). They answer the call of Christ to a life in community, of prayer, self-offering, and active presence among those who are in need. Throughout their lives, they serve as witnesses to the call of Christ to reconciliation and conversion. For more information on their formation program, please contact Sister Connie (see below).
For More Information:
We invite you……to join us
in this wonderful and challenging ministry and life as a Missionary of La Salette. Mary invited us to “make her message known to all her people”…and we could use your help! We promise to pray for you and we ask you to pray about your vocation: • Do you feel drawn to a special life centered in community, prayer and ministry to others? • Are you willing to share your unique gifts and talents in a life of service and reconciliation? For more information on the La Salette Priests, Brothers and Sisters, please see our website (www.lasalette.org) or contact:
• Fr. Dennis Loomis, M.S., Director of Vocations, La Salette Missionaries
• Sister Connie, SSND, Director of Vocations, Sisters of Our Lady of La Salette
10600 Cedar Avenue
Fairfax, VA 22030-3112
Tel: 703-691-4294; Fax: 703-691-1767
Consider exploring this possibility. We need you…God needs you!