Working Sisters of the Holy House of Nazareth
March 8, 2024
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Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette (MS)

In a series about the Religious Congregations living and working in the Diocese of East Anglia, Fr Karol Porczak MS, Vicar for the Religious, introduces the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette in Peterborough.

This Congregation came to life after the miraculous apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary at La Salette village in the French Alps on September 19, 1846.

A Beautiful Lady gave a singular Message to Melanie Calvat (15) and Maximin Giraud (11) which She had told them in tears. Part of the Message was: “How long have I suffered for you! If my Son is not to abandon you, I am obliged to entreat him without ceasing. But you take no heed of that.” The Message also included two secrets, given to both children separately, and has never been any part of the legacy given to the Congregation of the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette.

The event has drawn the attention of multitudes of people who have climbed to the altitude of 6,000 feet, in order to reach the scene of the apparition. In 1951, the Bishop of Grenoble, Philibert de Bruillard, took action in recognising the apparition as true and trustworthy, and requested members of his clergy to assist with the pastoral care of the sheer numbers of pilgrims visiting the place of the apparition. In 1958, Bishop Ginoulhiac accepted the religious vows of six priests from Grenoble diocese for the new Congregation dedicated to the Reconciliation in the spirit of the Message of La Salette.

The French revolution forced the religious orders of France to move abroad. One of the destinations for the La Salettes was North America, where two missionaries started their work in Hartford, Connecticut in 1892. There, vocations for four large Provinces quickly developed. Soon, England became the missionary area, and as a result of that in 1927, the La Salettes from America were welcomed by Bishop Arthur Doubleday of Brentwood. Two of them started work in East London parishes in Dagenham and Rainham serving the Catholic workers of the new Ford Motor Company.

In 1991, due to a decline of vocations in the Americans Provinces, it was agreed that the Polish Province would take over the mission in England.

Today, eight Polish Missionaries are in charge of four parishes in Brentwood Diocese and since 2014 three more missionaries work at the parish of St Peter and All Souls in Peterborough.

The Congregation of the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette in the world now reaches over 900 members in eleven Provinces on all continents, the General House being in Rome.

Pictured above, from left to right: Fr Waldemar Smialek MS, Fr Adam Sowa MS (Superior) and Fr Karol Porczak MS, VR.