The Beginnings of the La Salette Mission Field in Argentina

Editor: (This is a reprint of an article from “Our Lady’s Missionary of May, 1939.) Fr. Michael Kolbuch, former pastor of St. Mary's, Ware, Mass., and (then) head of our Polish Province, had opened a promising mission field in the Argentine Republic. Like all other enterprises of Father Kolbuch, this pioneering venture bore witness to his indefatigable zeal.
02 Michael Kolbuch MSFr. Michael Kolbuch, M. S. on the S.S. Uruguay, officiates at the Memorial Mass for the late Pope Pius XI

While making his way back to the United States from Argentina on board the S.S. Uruguay, he officiated at the Memorial Mass for the late Pius XI. In March and April of 1938, after having returned to the United States, he spent time preaching several missions and renewing old acquaintances. The following account from his own pen reveals the extent and importance of the new foundation.

Having learned that very many Polish immigrants in Argentina were deprived of spiritual assistance due to the lack of priests, I undertook to make a special survey of religious conditions there in the hope of establishing a few centers of apostolate for our Fathers.

Accordingly, in April, 1936, I set out for that country, taking with me Fr. Father Sudyka who, God willing, would settle at some post awaiting reinforcements. The voyage from Poland to Argentina took twenty-six days. Two more months were spent visiting the country which is ten times the size of France.

It was a tiresome and arduous journey. We were warmly received, however, by their gracious lordships of the Archiepiscopal Sees of La Plata, Rosario, Santa Fe, and Cordoba. In each of these archbishoprics, I was invited to open mission centers as soon as the men and the means were available. Heartened by this welcome, I returned to Poland leaving Father Sudyka at Villa Dominico, a mission post confided to us by the Archbishop of La Plata.

01 Group of Frs and brothers in ArgentinaGroup of Fathers and Brothers in Argentina
In September 1937, six Missionary Fathers and two Lay-Brothers set sail for Argentina from Poland to take possession of other missions entrusted to us by the Archbishops of Rosario, Santa Fe and Cordoba. In Septem­ber 1939, four more Priests and two more Lay-Brothers will go to join the first contingent of missionaries in the field. Our work in Argentina, be it said in passing, is not limited to Polish immigrants only. Moreover, these are quite scattered throughout that vast country. We labor to spread the Gospel to many needy souls in a broad and strangely mixed territory.

From the religious point of view, Argentina still leaves a great deal to be accomplished. The working class especially is sadly lacking in religious care and instruction. It is safe to state that in the Catholic land of Argentina, a very small percentage of the people are faithful to the constant practice of our Holy Religion – we may say 3% of the men and 12 % of the women.

It is a condition of things such as this that caused Our Blessed Mother to shed bitter tears in Her Holy Apparition at La Salette. May she, whose salutary teachings are now being preached in Argentina, bless the Church of that country and revive the service of Christ among its dear people.

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