On June 5th, 2022, I will celebrate my first year of the priesthood as a La Salette Missionary. Reflecting upon my first year as a priest brings me great joy as I can serve the people of God through my priestly ministry. As a La Salette Missionary, I can connect the message of La Salette with the church's sacramental life.
The core of the La Salette message is reconciliation. Each sacrament provides an opportunity to invite others into the reconciling love of God. Especially the sacrament of penance as a person encounters the reconciliatory grace and forgiveness of God's mercy and love. Being a priest allows me to be a vehicle of God's grace to others.
Accompanying others to experience the grace of reconciliation between God, themselves, and others is the apostolic work of a La Salette Missionary: “Our congregation is called to be a sign and instrument of the work of Reconciliation accomplished by Christ and with which Mary” (La Salette Rule of Life). It is a great joy to witness the transformational effect of the sacrament of penance in another person's life as they find the healing they need to live a robust faith.
Becoming a La Salette Missionary is a process of formation and education. The formation process of a La Salette Missionary prepares the person to develop their La Salette identity as one learns the congregations’ history, spirituality, and apostolic ministries. A La Salette Missionary's formation is ongoing as we continually grow in our lives and faith.
As a new priest, I am learning how to merge my La Salette identity into the life of the priesthood. I must constantly learn how to live out my vocation to religious life and the priesthood each day. My vocation to the priesthood and religious life is not for myself but for others. Therefore, I must develop an attitude of selflessness as I live out the call of my vocation. Self-giving can seem exhausting, but I receive back what I give to those I serve the care and support I need to rejuvenate me within my first year as a priest.
The people of the Church love and appreciate their priests. I find the care and support from the people of faith to be a source of encouragement for my vocation. Also, the La Salette community is a supportive source for my vocation. Having a community of brothers who journey alongside each other as we live out the call of our vocation is a gift.
We do not have to navigate through life and ministry alone; we help each other sustain our vocational life as we encourage each other within community life to be the people God created us.
In the future, into my second year of the priesthood, I desire to grow in my identity as a La Salette Missionary and priest. My hope for the next year is to invite others to answer the call of their vocation and accompany them through their discernment. I want to give others the support and encouragement I receive from the people of God and the La Salette community to become the person God has called them to be in this life.
To accomplish this task, I seek to follow Pope Francis in his encyclical letter, Fratelli Tutti (Brothers and Sisters All), which states how the Church is a home with open doors. “. . . we want to be a Church that serves, that leaves home and goes forth from its places of worship, goes forth from its sacristies, to accompany life, sustain hope, to be a sign of unity… to build bridges, to break down walls, to sow seeds of reconciliation” (#276).
A tall order for sure, but we do not have to do the work alone. If you feel the calling to serve God and the Church through the reconciling ministry of the La Salette Missionary congregation, please reach out and journey with us at email@example.com or www.lasalettevocations.org.