The Congregation of the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette, an international religious community of priests and brothers, is founded on the Apparition of Our Lady of La Salette which occurred on Sept. 19, 1846. Two poor unsuspecting children, Maximin Giraud and Melanie Calvat, met Our Lady in a mountaintop ravine near the hamlet of La Salette. She asked these two children to “make (her) message known to all (her) people.”
Within a few years, the local Bishop founded the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette. They are
committed to minister in collaboration with laity, other religious, and local clergy to promote the message of Mary at La Salette and the ministry of reconciliation.
They are Catholic laity inspired by the Apparition of Our Lady of La Salette who want to connect themselves more closely to our Weeping Mother and the principles of spirituality contained in her message at La Salette. As Our Lady requested in her merciful apparition, these devoted people pray each day, reflect on the scripture and her message and make her message known whenever the opportunity arises.
La Salette Laity are in over twenty countries around the world and have established programs of ongoing formation, living and ministering as co-missionaries, connected with the La Salette Missionaries.
Recently, a young man considering the priesthood told me that he thought the rise of lay ministry in the Church was threatening the role of the ordained priest. What our conversation brought home to me was the ongoing confusion regarding the specific identity of and relationship between lay and ordained ministries.
There are many factors that prevent clarity in this area. Chief among them is a failure to observe that while ordained ministry is general and comprehensive, lay ministry is always specific and limited. The ministry of the bishop, for instance, is not focused on any particular area of the life of his diocese. Rather it ranges widely over the whole spectrum of diocesan activities. In the same way, the parish priest is called to carry on a comprehensive and wide-ranging ministry of oversight in his parish. His focus is not on any particular ministry area, but on the right ordering (think “holy orders”) of the parish.
Pope Francis recently paid a visit to two small Catholic communes in central Italy dedicated to living solidarity and promoting ecumenical unity, telling members that their “prophetic” way of living the Gospel must continue with boldness and perseverance.
Speaking to members of the Nomadelfia community and commune, the pope said theirs is “a prophetic reality that proposes the creation of a new civilization, implementing the Gospel as a form of a good and beautiful life.”
Similarly, he told members of the Focolare Movement, which has a Marian spirituality and places an emphasis on ecumenism, that their community is “an illustration of the mission of the Church today, as traced by the Second Vatican Council.”
He told members they should not stay locked inside, but must “go out, to encounter, to take care of, to throw the leaven of the Gospel in the pasta of society, above all where there is most need, where the Gospel is awaited and invoked: in poverty, in suffering, in trials, in the search and in doubt.”
A new study from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) for the North American Conference of Associates and Religious (NACAR) reports more than 55,000 associates in 378 religious institutes, eight in ten of them in the United States, a significant increase from the 25,500 associates reported fifteen years ago in the United States.
Associates are lay people who live out a religious charism and largely connect with institutes of vowed religious in order to live out the charism together. This study builds on a previous study done in 2000 and 2002 on associates’ relationships with vowed religious and was commissioned by NACAR in recognition of its 20th anniversary.
In addition to the 378 religious institutes that responded to a survey on associate leadership, over 10,000 vowed religious and associates responded to a survey about the associate-religious relationship. Both surveys asked about current realities and future expectations.
My parents were farmers in Britanny. Since I was 14, after receiving my graduation certificate, I stayed at home to help my mother with the housework and my father working in the fields. Soon I joined the Catholic Agricultural Youth Women (JACF) Action Movement which I loved.
At the age of 25 I went off to exercise my chosen profession – rural homemaking. I married a farmer from our town and we were married for 30 years. Together we managed a farm with many different crops and livestock until my retirement in 1998.
My husband was a dynamic person, involved with youth, the Church, and very active in a local Catholic Action group. Frail and often depressed, he suffered all his life from the result of a fall from his horse when he was only seven years of age.
In 1986 his condition worsened and, from there on, I concentrated on supported our family. I did my best to continue to raise our four children – two girls and two boys. Now our daughters are married. Presently I make the time to take my turn caring for my grandchildren – five in all!
It was particularly difficult but I attribute my survival to my faith and my commitment to a group called the “Christians in Rural Areas (CMR)”. I also served as a catechist for ten years and benefited from formation in Bible studies. Our meetings supported my hope in the future.
The Spirit sent by the risen Christ continues to act, now as always, in and through the Church. To better understand today, it is good to remember the past. We recognize the action of the Spirit in the life and diversity of civilizations and their ever-changing view of life. In order to strengthen our faith, it is good for us to obtain a correct view of our history and challenge our false assumptions, especially to awaken us to our present responsibilities! (from “La Croix – L’événement (The Cross – The Event)" April 2, 1987).
Christian laity are curious to know a little of their own history. Of course, articles and books abound. Quite apart from the numerous studies that appear today, it is enough to simply begin reading passages from the Acts of the Apostles or the Pauline letters. Following the example of Christ, who was placed above any institution and any categorization, the early Christians were unaware of the present-day distinction between clergy and laity. It is found nowhere in the new Testament.
Early Christians were described in the familiar passage: "All who believed were together and had everything in common" (Acts 2:14). Whenever they spoke, it was always as a witness to the Lord Jesus. In their homes where they met to break bread in memory of the Risen Lord, all brought their memories: women and men were sharing what they had seen and heard, and which was then shaped by the Evangelists. Believers brought others to Christ. It is often reported that women converted their husbands and household; while the artisans and merchants preached the Good News wherever they went, often in foreign lands.
Pope St. John Paul II, hailed as the Pope of the Family, created the World Meeting of Families in 1994 in Rome to explore the critical role the family plays in society and to give families opportunities to talk about the challenges and blessings that all families have.
This year’s theme is “Love Is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive”. It was inspired by the early Church Family, St. Irenaeus, who wrote “the Glory of God is (humanity) fully alive.” The glory of men and women is their capacity to love as God loves – and no better means exists to teach the meaning of love than the family. His Holiness, Pope Francis also inspired the theme. He embodies the message of mercy, joy and love at the heart of the Gospel.