|La Salette Shrine, Salmata,
Italy, near Assisi
|Fr. Sullivan & Bro. Pedro,
with a group of active laywomen
Argentina had such a shortage of priests that many rural Catholics never saw one. The faith was handed down from generation to generation through the ministry of the laity. And that happened thanks to the training of the missionaries who worked in the area many, many years ago.
Today in Argentina, as well as in Bolivia, the laity continues to be in the forefront. The formation of
Basic Christian Communities calls us to believe in the priesthood of the People of God.
|Lay Associates gather to share the
Passover Meal with some of the
La Salette Missionaries
Pope Paul VI, who continued and concluded Vatican II after the death of Pope John XXIII.During these years after Vatican II, the Holy Spirit continued to guide and broaden the Church’s appreciation of the theology of ministry and the place of the laity in it.
Pope Paul VI in 1972 established the offices of lector and acolyte as lay ministries. In so doing he declared: “Ministries may be committed to lay Christians. They are no longer regarded as reserved to candidates for the sacrament of orders.” The Pope’s declaration that ministry should be open to lay Catholics has been gladly accepted.
Editor: Each country-group in the First International Lay La Salette Encounter held at La Salette in France from Sept. 1-10, 2011 was asked to design a picture of Our Lady of La Salette as if she were appearing in their own country today. What would she wear? What would be symbols indicating topics she might speak about – contemporary ills or concerns of their nation? Here are the visuals and explanation from our Swiss and German group.
In their contemporary version of the event of La Salette, the Swiss see Maximin and Melanie as schoolchildren. All children can and must go to school. They are completely supported by their family. We see them taking a break. Maximin is a soccer player and is dressed like one; in fact, he seems to be kicking the soccer ball while Mary speaks (just as he actually spun his hat on his stick in the original event).
In Switzerland, more than half of all couples are divorced. Their children wait until evening to see their parents and therefore they are alone a lot at home.
The red alarm clock (center left) indicates that these children have a lot to do each day. They have little time for themselves and not much time for God. They have few leaders in faith that they know or admire. In Germany, it seems that many teachers lose their own faith in God.
Statue of Mary speaking
with the two children,
La Salette, France
Members of the First La Salette
Lay Encounter, La Salette, France,
Sept 1-10, 2011
Frankly I am amazed when I hear the encouraging words of Jesus: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12). Imagine – we can do greater things than Jesus because he has gone back to the Father and sent the Spirit to stir up and strengthen our minds, hearts and lives! This gives us unending hope that we can be church and change the world, one person at a time, just like Jesus did.
When I was with the other participants in the First La Salette International Lay Encounter from September 1-10th of 2011 at La Salette in France, I felt that same hope come alive. We were some forty people from around the world – La Salette laity and religious. Most of us had never met each other yet we discovered during those ten days a sense of community and a unity of vision that was simply remarkable. Our comradery was as palpable as it was remarkable. Our shared prayer, discussions, and workshops on various aspects of the La Salette apparition and our shared mission of reconciliation were affirming and enlightening. It was truly a Pentecost moment!
The apparition at La Salette offers us an in-depth critique of – or our way of looking at – the world. It challenges us to give up the comfortable security of the noncommittal observer, to relinquish control, to refuse to become ‘solitary monads,’ and to entrust ourselves to the ebb and flow of a history that eludes our grasp, in the image of the One who we believe gave himself into the hands of others in order to give us life.
At La Salette, Mary offers us, in biblical fashion, “an in-depth critique of our way of looking at the world.” Maximin and Mélanie were led to look at their world, at the reality around them: drought, famine, rotten potatoes, worm-eaten grapes and walnuts, the blighted crops – and the resulting death of children, disdain for God, religious indifference, etc. In the face of such insecurity for the future, many inhabitants of those mountains blamed God alone: it was God’s fault, God punishing his children, a vengeful God, no God of love.
Antonella Portinaro, a leader of
the Lay La Salettes in Italy
Editor: Antonella was one of the participants in the First International Lay La Salette Encounter held at La Salette in France from Sept. 1-10, 2011. Each country-group was asked to design a picture of Our Lady of La Salette as if she were appearing in their own country today. What would she wear? What would be symbols indicating topics she might speak about – contemporary ills or concerns of their nation?
My name is Antonella Portinaro and I am a “leader” of the dynamic and dedicated lay associates connected with the Missionaries Our Lady of La Salette from Italy. This lay community is composed of three groups – one in Turin where I reside, the other two in Rome and Naples.
Let me explain our first drawing from Italy. It was prepared by the centro in Rome. Mary stands in the center of the piazza; she has some of the characteristics of Mary at La Salette; namely, the cross with hammer and pincers; the cross is hanging from a chain (the Rosary), a symbol of the strength of prayer; at her waist, there are flowers, a symbol of love; she has a blue shawl, made of tears, (blue a symbol of water and baptism). Light comes from her, touching everything around her. Behind her is a church dome, symbolizing St. Peter’s in Vatican City.
Editor: Fr. Norman Butler, M.S., and Fr. Edilson Schio, M.S., were co-directors of the First International La Salette Lay Encounter (Sept.1-10, 2011) at Holy Mountain, France.
The Encounter: Sept. 1-10, 2011
|Salle Schumann, the main meeting room
The ten days of activities and fraternity marked the life of each participant. The moments of prayer, reflection, sharing, questioning and integration brought everyone together. The organization of the Encounter into three “methodologies” made it possible for everyone to follow the steps and understand the objectives.
We sought to take advantage of the many physical spaces at the shrine that lead pilgrims into the experience of La Salette. Not everything happened in our meeting room (the Schumann Room). We spent time on the hillsides, and prayed at different spots: the site of the apparition, the font of water, Mount Planeau, the “Rencontre” chapel and the Basilica.
While many of our activities were specific to our group, at times we participated in activities with the pilgrims on the mountain. The transmission of parts of the Encounter on Internet made it possible for people far away to participate with us.