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Brother Pedro Santiago Battistini, MS is a La Salette Missionary born in Argentina. During my visit there late last January he told me a bit about himself, his missionary journey and his ministry. As you will see from his background, it is no wonder that he is the Treasurer of the Argentina/Bolivia La Salette Region.
I was born on June 30, 1975 in a small town named Monte Cristo, just a few kilometers from Córdoba, Argentina. I give thanks to God that my parents are still alive, as are my four brothers and two sisters. La Salette was part of my family’s history even before I came into the picture. As a young woman my mother was the cook at the La Salette seminary in Yofre Norte. My father worked at a nearby bakery and delivered bread each morning to the seminary. That’s where they met – in the La Salette seminary kitchen! As the years went by and they became better acquainted they decided to get married. Fr. Jim Weeks, MS was the priest who officiated at their sacramental wedding. They then moved to Monte Cristo, a small town not far from Córdoba. I was their first born. So you could say that La Salette was part of my life from birth. A few years later they moved back to Yofre Norte in Córdoba and we all became active members of the parish of Our Lady of La Salette, staffed by the same missionaries.



After finishing high school I went to the local university to study accounting. Then I went to work in that field. My Catholic faith was always strong and I continued to be active in the parish. Soon I felt a call to religious life and at 28 I entered the La Salette novitiate. For me it was a year of discernment and at the end of that novitiate year I chose to become a La Salette Missionary Brother rather than continue studying for the priesthood. I went on, however, taking course for three yeas in philosophy and theology.

After my studies, it was time to put into practice the theories I had been taught. I moved to the city of La Banda where I became part of the pastoral team – where else but at another La Salette parish. There was not a lot of sacramental ministry needed – Father Fernando could handle it all – and I helped organize and animate various youth groups, Basic Christian Communities, and vocational groups.

Even with this work, I still had sufficient time to continue my accounting work as a CPA. Being a brother – and not a priest as an authority figure – brings me close to people who might otherwise not think of associating with the church. There was a whole new stratum of activity, a whole new bunch of people to whom I could witness as a Missionary Brother.

Bro. Pedro finds great satisfaction – as a La Salette Religious, as a Catholic and as a human being – in reaching out to different groups of people, especially to the poor and the youth. One group he helped out all came from the same family – nine siblings, the oldest of whom was 15 and the youngest six months with a 7-year old who is handicapped. Both mother and father were accused of abusing them and sentenced to prison. The children continued to live at home – alone – because there was no one to step in to care for them! They lived quite far from school, and so they had practically no schooling. Their home life had been abusive, with practically no care, no supervision, and no love from their parents. Now, with parents in jail, there was less active violence. Yet a different type of violence took its place – indifference! There was a relative who lived about 10 kilometers away but he had eight kids of his own and could not support any more.

So Bro. Pedro took it upon himself to help care for them. He motivated the parish to help find food and clothes. Knocking on doors of government bureaus, he got some food and a few mattresses, but no more! It seemed they too didn’t care or couldn’t be bothered.

Three years have past. Brother Pedro is doing what he can – getting them food and shelter and helping get them to school. They now live mostly in a facility for high risk kids. But life without a mother and father to care for them is taking a toll on them as they grow. Without proper supervision other types of violence come into their lives. The family is split. The oldest girl is now living with someone and is already pregnant. A relative has stepped up to take one child. The four-year old now lives with a neighbor’s family. Bro Pedro can only hope and pray that the cycle of violence and indifference will not be perpetuated.

He smiled as he told me; This is more complicated than any TV soap-opera! Yet this is part of my pastoral work. I fulfill my La Salette vocation by reaching out to the poor and needy. It helps me realize how much God reaches out to me. It brings me great satisfaction as a La Salette Missionary Brother!

As I listened to Bro. Pedro speak about caring for those poor children, I reflected on the opening theme of our monthly La Salette Novena: welcome! “Mary said: Come near my children. … Her words echo her Son’s invitation to come to him that we may find rest and refreshment for our spirits … [that] we may have life and have it more abundantly.” Welcoming those children, caring for them, discovering new ways to help provide for them – this is a true La Salette spirit.