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Meet Sr. Mila Dela Cruz, SNDS

Sr. Mila Dela Cruz, SNDS, near
of Our Lady of La Salette in
Attleboro, MA.

When I was in sixth grade, the first La Salette Fathers who came to my country used to celebrate Mass in my hometown of Ramon, Isabela, Philippines. The group of La Salette priests serving in my hometown included Frs. Conrad Blanchet, René Bisaillon, Maurice Cardinal, and Gerald Biron.


How I first heard about La Salette

They shared with us the story of La Salette at Mass when they came to visit our barrio of Raniag. Our parents were strongly attracted to the story of La Salette. My family always kept a picture of the Weeping Mother in our home to remind us. Her gestures and her tears continue to touch many hearts and lives.

Whenever Fr. René was driving the children to Mass, he would like to have everyone join in singing some folk songs. My whole family, which included seventeen children and one adopted brother, were close friends of Fr. Blanchet. In fact, during a long drought, he actually helped my father put in a water system on our family farm. He taught my father to do many other things and was often around to help in any way he could. Fr. Blanchet even taught our family how to speak English!

As our farm grew larger, our family become more self-sufficient through the generous help of the La Salette Missionaries. My family will always remember the generous presence and actions of the La Salettes leading all of us closer to God.


Hearing Our Lady’s Call 

Read more Meet Sr. Mila Dela Cruz, SNDS

Meet Fr. Jean-Theodore, M.S.

(left) Fr. Jean-Theodre Randriamahenina, M.S.; (right)
hometown of Faratsiho in the rural region of
Madagascar (photo: © Cirad, A. Teyssier)

Editor: Fr. Jean-Theodore, M.S., was asked to share with the members of the French Province his experience of coming from Madagascar three years ago to serve in France.

A little bit about me…

I thank Fr. Frantz Monnet, M.S., the French Provincial, and his council for asking me to speak to you. I am glad to be with you to share some of the modest experiences I have lived while in France. I do this first and foremost as a Malagasy, proceeding slowly (“moramora,” as we say in Malagasy, slowly but never backwards), then as a religious and priest living in the La Salette French Province.

Here are a few words of explanation about how I came to be living here in France for the past three years.

My Seminary Days

Read more Meet Fr. Jean-Theodore, M.S.

La Salette Sisters in Myanmar

Kachin dancers are involved in the yearly Manaw Festival,
held in Myitkyina and Putao in the Kachin State.

The La Salette Sisters minister in various places in the world, including here in the US (Virginia and Florida). Their expansion to Myanmar was in many ways due to the ministry of Fr. Bernie Taylor, M.S., (his native Myanmar name is Bernie U Thein) who was working in the Philippines.

A few years after the American La Salettes were expelled from Myanmar in 1976, Fr. Bernie went to join the Filipino Province. He returned to his homeland as often as possible and continued to bring the message of La Salette to people there. Some young men wanted to join the Missionaries of La Salette. They went to the Philippines for formation.

There were also some young women who were attracted to the La Salette charism and asked to join the La Salette Sisters. They belong to the Kachin tribe and are located in the northernmost part of the country near China. In fact half of the Kachin people live in China. For their formation these young women were able to go to the Philippines and join the sisters.

Read more La Salette Sisters in Myanmar

Meet Bro Ron Taylor, M.S.

Where were you born and raised?

Bro. Ron Taylor, M.S., celebrating
fifty years of religious profession

I was born on March 19, 1947, and raised in Central Falls, Rhode Island. My father’s name was Russell and he co-owned “Armand’s Café” in Central Falls. My mother, Yvonne, worked for a laundry business and had previously worked in a local fabric mill in Pawtucket, RI. I had a half-brother named Russell Taylor, Jr., an engineer for Texas Instruments, a manufacturing company making computer circuit boards. I went to grammar school and one year of high school at St. Matthew’s School.

How did you learn about La Salette?

I had three life-long friends, a few years older than me, and they entered the La Salette Novitiate in 1960 at Center Harbor, NH. When they came home on vacation, I’d ask what their life was all about as a La Salette Brother candidate. I liked what they said, about working with their hands and doing many things. I loved that aspect of life. Then Fr. Leo Maxfield, M.S., visited our parish and spoke about the La Salette Missionaries, inviting those who were interested. He offered to take us on a trip to the La Salette High School Seminary in Enfield, NH. However he mentioned that he was only taking those interest in the priesthood. Fortunately one fellow couldn’t go, so I took his place.

On that weekend, we visited the classrooms of students and peeked in on the La Salette Brothers who were working in the garage. It was after that weekend that I made the decision to enter La Salette as a Brotherhood candidate. Because I was only in eighth grade, Fr. Roland Bedard, M.S., asked me to wait until I finished my freshman year of High School. After I was accepted at the age of 15, I entered on July 4, 1962, into Center Harbor as an Aspirant.

Read more Meet Bro Ron Taylor, M.S.

Meet Yvonnique Leroy

Yvonnique (right) with other Lay
La Salettes on the Holy Mountain
in September 2011

Editor: Yvonnique Leroy is a member of one of several groups of Lay La Salettes, people from around the world dedicated – along with the La Salette Missionaries – to the mission of reconciliation. She is 54 years old, married, with two children. She lives in the city of Saint-Leu, on the Island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean, off the east coast of Africa.

Where were you born and raised?

I was born on the Island of La Réunion, in the town of Saint-Leu, located on the west coast of the island. My mother had thirteen children, but I have known only six of them. Now my two brothers and I are the only remaining children. I grew up in a family involved in both the Hindu and Catholic religions. It was more or less natural, here, under the colonial influence that sometimes we went to the Hindu temple and at other times went to the Catholic Church. Most of my friends had similar experiences.

What brought you to belief in Jesus Christ?

Read more Meet Yvonnique Leroy

Meet Fr. Almir

What is your family background?

Fr. Almir Urbano, M.S. (center) with other
Brazilian La Salettes: Fr. Manuel dos Reis
Bonfim, M.S. (left), Director of the Holy
Mountain in France and Fr. Isidro Perin, M.S.
(right), Provincial of the Brazilian Province.

I was born in the small town of Apuarema, in the state of Bahia, in northeast Brazil. My father, Dionizio, was a trade worker in a supermarket. My mother’s name is Maria Joseph Santos, who works in our home. I have one brother, Edemir, and my five sisters: Edneide, Marizelia, Rosimeire, Divanei and Deliane. I’m the third oldest. We all still live in the same area.

How did you come to hear about the La Salettes?

I was born and raised in a mission of a La Salette Parish in my area. In September, when I was a teenager, I especially remember our priest showing us spectacular slides of the place of the Apparition and speaking about Mary’s message. I was very impressed that the two witnesses were also around my own age. I noticed that the Mother of God was speaking with poor, uneducated children in their own life-situation – and I was impressed.

Read more Meet Fr. Almir

Meet Fr. Pierre-Jeannot

Editor: Father Pierre-Jeannot Rakonindrainy, M.S., completed not only three terms as Provincial Superior of the La Salette Missionaries in Madagascar but also recently completed a term of six years as Assistant General in Rome. He is now serving in a parish of Croix de Belledonne on the northeastern outskirts of the city of Grenoble (around Omene).

Fr. Pierre-Jeannot
Rakonindrainy, M.S.

How did you first come in contact with the La Salette message?

In the past as a youth, I assisted the La Salette Missionaries as well as the Sisters of Our Lady of La Salette as a volunteer catechist. In 1982 as a youngster in the La Salette apostolic school in Antsahasoa, I was introduced to the event and message of La Salette, thanks to the La Salette Missionaries of Madagascar.

What first struck me was the fact that the Blessed Virgin appeared to two young cowherds. Since they worked for the more well-off farmers of their village, they did not go to school, and only received a bowl of rice as their salary! In my native country of Madagascar, the majority of the population is impoverished and suffers every day from rampant systemic corruption. Mary at La Salette is the image of the love of Jesus who always opts for assisting the poor and the young.

The message of reconciliation is primarily an appeal to be sensitive to the needs of others, responsive to suffering humanity. The challenge is immense and I am proud to be La Salette with a spirit of solidarity with the poor and the helpless.

As a baptized Christian and La Salette religious, I am called to be a witness of my faith and an active minister of Reconciliation – in a sense, an expert in helping humanity! The challenge is immense and I am proud to be a La Salette, living out the spirit of solidarity with the poor and the helpless.

Read more Meet Fr. Pierre-Jeannot

Meet Fr. Tom Puthusseril, M.S.

Fr. Tom Puthusseril, M.S.,
Director of the National
Shrine of Our Lady of La
Salette, Attleboro, MA

What is your family background? 

I was born in Kerala, in the southwestern part of India, on the Malabar Coast. My father’s name is Chacko Puthusseril, and my mother is Mary Kutty, both from Kerala. My older brother’s name is Benny Chacko Matthew. My father worked both in the Rubber industry and farming as well. My mother was a housewife. In my household, "Mother Mary" (Our Lady) was a significant presence in my life, through daily family morning and evening prayers and devotions and daily Mass.

Through my parents and their sharing stories of saints and the challenging life of missionaries with both myself and my brother, I felt called to some special mission for my life. I was a regular altar server and I constantly spoke with the parish priests about my own and other’s questions about our Catholic faith. This education and experience helped concretize my desire to serve the Church and God’s people.

How did you come in contact with the La Salette Missionaries?

I began my seminary life with the Diocese of Kanjirapplly. During my regency, a period of immersion in ministry, I was assigned to a Rehabilitation Center for Prisoners, funded limitedly and quite poor. I saw a calendar on a wall that invited young men to consider a vocation with the La Salette Missionaries. I responded to that invitation by phoning the contact person, Fr. Andrews Kollanoor, M.S. I went to meet with him later and we discussed what my procedure should be for my life and studies.

Read more Meet Fr. Tom Puthusseril, M.S.

48 Hours on Death Row

Editor: Almost ten years ago Staff Writer Mary Frances McCarthy from the Arlington Catholic Herald spoke with La Salette Sister Connie Parcasio about her ministry to a death row inmate in the 48 hours before his execution.

La Salette Sister Connie
Parcasio in the Attlboro
House Chapel
"The traditional teaching of the Church has acknowledged as well-founded the right and duty of legitimate public authority to punish malefactors by means of penalties commensurate with the gravity of the crime, not excluding, in cases of extreme gravity, the death penalty.

"If bloodless means are sufficient to defend human lives against an aggressor and to protect public order and the safety of persons, public authority should limit itself to such means, because they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, Nos. 2266-2267).

On Jan. 24, 1998, Dennis Orbe, during a bout of depression, was nearing the end of a 10-day crime spree. Feeling the need to keep moving, Orbe, without a dime to his name, stopped at a convenience store at Route 17 and Fort Eustis Blvd. in York County at 3:30 a.m., intending to fill his gas tank and leave. Because the pump required prepayment before it would work, Orbe decided to rob the store. Surveillance tape showed Orbe enter the store and brandish a .357 caliber revolver. Store clerk Rick Burnett showed no signs of resistance as Orbe shot him in the chest.

Last month, La Salette Sister Connie Parcasio, Director of Prison Ministry for Catholic Charities of the Arlington Diocese, received a call from Ann McBride, a member of Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. McBride had been writing and visiting Orbe since July 2000. From the first letter he wrote to her, Orbe described how much he loved his daughters and how sorry he was for committing murder.

McBride informed Sister Connie that Orbe was to be executed the next day. The prison had given Orbe permission to call McBride at her house. McBride invited Sister Connie to join her that afternoon to talk to Orbe. The following was taken from Sister Connie’s account of Orbe’s last 48 hours on death row.

March 30, 3:30PM

Read more 48 Hours on Death Row

Meet Fr. Joe Bachand, M.S.

Fr. Joseph Bachand, M.S.,
presently serving as a
General Councilor on the
La Salette General
Administration in Rome

What is your family background? 

I was born in Jewett City, Connecticut, USA, on December 15,1949. I am the oldest of eight children, with five brothers and two sisters. My father was a factory worker and also worked for the U. S. Post Office. He is now 86 years old and was ordained a Permanent Deacon 25 years ago. My mother died three years ago and was a marvelous sign of faith and strength to my entire family.

How did you come in contact with the La Salette Missionaries?

As a child, I was an altar boy and often spoke about the possibility of becoming a priest. My neighbor, who knew this, had two cousins who were Missionaries of La Salette. She and her husband brought me to visit the La Salette Shrine in Ipswich and the La Salette College Seminary in Altamont where her cousins were serving. She also gave me copies of Our Lady’s Missionary to read. There I was especially taken with the photos and stories of the La Salette Missionaries in Burma. Since then I have had the opportunity to meet a number of the men I had read about. Only recently did I have the opportunity to visit the country (now Myanmar) that had first captured my interest in La Salette.

Where did you experience your preparatory studies and priestly ministry?

Read more Meet Fr. Joe Bachand, M.S.

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