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Advice to Laity

From Sharon Markowitz:

Sharon Markowicz (center) with
Fr. Ernie Corriveau, M.S. (left) and
Fr. Jack Nuelle, M.S.

Drawing on my experience as an Enfield, NH, La Salette Associate, my advice to lay people interested in associating with the La Salettes in a covenant community:

  1. be honest and share your feelings;
  2. be persistent in your desire to respond to your calling;
  3. be patient with the religious because this is a new situation for La Salette religious and often new things take time to get used to. And lastly,
  4. do not expect all the La Salettes to be interested in the lay program or to want to participate in it. Draw strength and support from those who are interested.

To the La Salette religious who are interested in beginning a Lay Missionary program, they should appreciate that:

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Laity’s Mission As Reconcilers

Untitled-1It is quite clear to La Salette Missionaries that they are called by the Church to be reconcilers of sinners. In this context, to reconcile means to engage actively in the pursuit of those spiritually far-away souls who have abandoned their faith and decided to go it alone, or of any Christian whose sole claim to Christian fame is the name.

Who are Called to be Reconcilers?

It would seem to me that this particular facet of reconciliation has been overemphasized… In point of fact, any priest, whether religious or diocesan, is by the very nature of his baptism and his priesthood, a reconciler. But even further, as Vatican II has reminded us so powerfully, all Christians not only have a right, but also a sacred duty to be reconcilers among their fellow human beings. The conversion of sinners is a universal apostolate, a common concern, proper to every member of Christendom, of whatever persuasion.

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What is a La Salette Associate?

We would like to introduce you to the La Salette Associates – who we are and what we do. We are a group of lay people who choose to bond ourselves closely with the spirituality, charism, ministry and community of the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette in a setting of mutuality.

Untitled-1Mutuality recognizes that both professed Missionaries and Associates, although they have distinct and different rights and responsibilities within the La Salette Community, contribute to the La Salette mission in the world today. Each does this according to the particular gifts and talents received by God. Mutuality implies the enrichment in ongoing relationships with one another on a personal and a community level.

Associates feel a call in response to the message of reconciliation that Mary proclaimed in her merciful apparition of 1846 in France and are inspired by her words. Through prayer, fraternal love, support, and encouragement, we dedicated ourselves to the service of God’s people, to spreading the message of La Salette, and joining in the ministry of reconciliation with the La Salette Missionaries. This calling inspires us to learn more about what Mary’s words mean to us today and how we can get the message across to others as Mary has called us to do.

We are all different, in our backgrounds, family lives, style of prayer, and depth of faith, but those differences allow us to express this calling in a variety of ways. We come together for prayer, faith sharing and to give each other the support and encouragement we need to carry out our mission.

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Importance of La Salette Laity

Untitled-1As a boy growing up in the 1940s and 1950s, I felt that, through my experience of the Catholic faith, worship and education, I was a very small part of a worldwide family of believers. That certainly remains true to this day. However certain things within my faith began changing.

With the onset of changes in the Mass from Vatican II and its use of “Holy Spirit” in liturgical prayers, I learned as a college student that “Spirit” was a better translation from the Greek word, pneuma, based on the Hebrew, ruach, meaning the movement of air. Wow! This certainly was better than comparing the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity to the cartoon character, Casper, the friendly ghost. From this I learned that change can be beneficial and even revelatory.

Three Radical Statements from Vatican II

In my seminary years I was inspired by the new liturgy, its intelligibility and its wonderful music. I learned about the significant importance of Vatican II’s document, Gaudium et Spes (The Constitution of the Church in the Modern World), promulgated in 1963. In this revolutionary document the Catholic Church effectively declared itself as a Church for the world of the 20th century. In the first paragraph of this document, it states that:

“The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the (people) of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ” (preface, #1).

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Brazilian La Salette Laity

Fr. Nilto Gasparetto,
M.S., and Brother
Flávio Jardim,M.S.
Recently La Salette Laity gathered for their fourth step in their formation in Pompéu in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. The theme for their sessions was “The La Salette Laity Spirituality of Reconciliation.”

The people present were very participative and came from Pompéu and others came from Belo Horizonte in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil.

Those present included Mario Apone, National Coordinator of the La Salette Laity of Brazil, and his wife, Aparecida Apone, as well as Fr. Nilto Gasparetto, M.S., and Brother Flávio Jardim, M.S. These people helped to lead a Biblical reflection on Mary of Nazareth as an initiator of reconciliation.

Fr. Nilto Gasparetto, M.S., along with Fr. Everton, the pastor of St. Joseph the Worker Parish, celebrated Mass in the place where there will soon be built a chapel to Our Lady of La Salette. Many La Salette Laity come from his parish.

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La Salette Laity in California

01 Following from my own experience and that of my wife, Isabel, at the First International La Salette Lay Encounter held on the Holy Mountain of La Salette in in France in September of 2011, we have been working to establish and expand a La Salette Lay Community in our parish in Moreno Valley, California. We are well aware that each La Salette Lay Community can be quite unique in its structure, formation, and ministry due to its own surroundings and the people who bring their gifts to the community.

On Saturday, May 4, 2013, our own La Salette Laity community gathered for prayer and formation. We discussed Mary’s words: “If you have wheat, you must not sow it.” This is a difficult question. After some prayerful exchange of ideas, it was suggested that people needed to be reconciled with God and then numerous blessings would follow. As Mary promised: “...even the stones will become heaps of wheat and the potatoes will be self-sown in the land.” These are the fruits of Reconciliation. This is the lifestyle to which we are all called.

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Laity As Reconcilers

Untitled-1Editor: Sometimes, even with the passage of many years, an opinion stands the test of time. This article is an example of just such an opinion, first expressed in an editorial in the La Salette International Publication, Reconciliare, from December of 1967, just two years after the close of Vatican II.

In the entire history of our Congregation, no truth has been more expounded and believed, no conviction has been more commonly stated, than our role as reconcilers. We have been a religious Institute founded for the specific purpose of converting sinners and of increasing “the number of souls devoted to Jesus Crucified and to Mary, the Mother of Sorrows” (older La Salette Constitutions, #2). In this context, to reconcile means to engage actively in the pursuit of those spiritually far-away souls who have abandoned religion and decided to go it alone, or of any Christian whose sole claim to Christian fame is the name. Is this our reason for existing as a Congregation? Is this our role in the Church?

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La Salette and Laity

The two cowherds, witnesses to the
Apparition of La Salette in France
on Sept. 19, 1846
There is something special about the message of La Salette that dawns on the reader like a surprise. The hierarchy, the priesthood, the clergy in any form or capacity are never mentioned.

Maximin and Melanie were lay people. The Lady spoke of "my people" by which we presume she meant the entire world. She mentioned elderly women who were the only ones at Mass on Sundays; she spoke of Maximin's papa as well as of the farmer of Coin. She spoke of cart drivers and of "children under seven years of age" who "will be seized with trembling and die in the arms of those holding them."

Laity and Vatican II

The emergence of the lay person has been and continues to be one of the most important and the most visible characteristics of the post-conciliar Church. The phrase "the emerging layman" has been with us since the early sixties – even the sexist language (layman) smacks of that period. The notion is intimately connected with that of church: the Church is essentially composed of lay people.

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Life As An SSND Associate

Untitled-1Editor: We welcome Kimberly Grady, a regular in the A Nun’s Life Community as today’s guest blogger. Kimberly shares her journey as an Associate of the School Sisters of Notre Dame.

A couple years ago I began a process that is changing my life in ways I could have never imagined. I began the process of becoming a Lay Associate with the School Sisters of Notre Dame. I had kept in contact with a few nuns that taught me in grade school in Saint Paul, Minnesota, but never dreamed I would be joining the charism, mission, and community of SSND in a faith-changing way.

The sisters I knew were in their 80s or older and they could, sorry to say, walk circles around me. As I visited the various communities of SSND in Mankato, Minnesota, Chicago, and Saint Louis, I began to look at my own longing which seems like a lifetime ago. I was just 8 years old when I first sensed that longing and over the years I have discerned if I wanted to live my faith by being a religious sister.

Since that first longing, my journey has taken many wonderful turns. I married, raised a family, and have a full time career as a medical scientist. All the while I always kept close to my faith in many ways of commitment, service, and prayer. I really did not envision that my faith needed to gain any more momentum, as I was so involved in a variety of faith activities from being in the choir, a sacristan, a lector, a Eucharistic minister to being part of small group prayers, leading retreats, and even shepherding the scouts were a love and commitment.

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La Salette Associate’s Journey

Editor: On Oct. 1, 2011, Tim O'Brien and Marci Madary gave a day of reflection for our U.S. La Salette Associates in Attleboro, MA. I have put their notes together into this article to retrieve their wonderful insights about the vocation of La Salette Associates.
Marci Madary leading the workshop
for La Salette Associates
Today we will give a general overview and understanding of the vocation to be a Lay Associates. Note that this is actually a vocation and not just an effort in volunteering. We will outline the mutuality of a Lay Associate community, and touch upon a new way of looking at the Christian vocation, based on a renewed understanding of vocation based on Baptism and Confirmation and not on the Priesthood or religious life. Also we will discuss the proper place of visioning and planning in the Association Community.

The Holy Spirit and the Lay Calling

Fr. Joe Bachand, M.S., the Provincial of the La Salette Missionaries in North America, commented that Vatican II stated that “you, the laity, find yourselves in the heart of the world. I think this puts you in an appropriate place for being aware of the injustice that binds people. This is why we need to listen to you. As La Salette Associates, you, like us La Salettes, are called to embody the message of reconciliation.”
We can certainly speak of the “vocation of Associates.” This idea of your calling or vocation is a relatively new concept in terms of laity in the Church. This vocation has always existed but often went unrecognized due to the limited view of the place and vocation of the laity as it was view in the Middle Ages.

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