Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Parishes Host First LaSalette Lay Ministry Summit

By FATHER RON GAGNE, MS Special To The Bulletin | Published August 18, 2011

Three parishes in the Atlanta Archdiocese staffed by priests of the Missionaries of LaSalette collaborated to host the first LaSalette Lay Ministry Summit July 20-23. Events held at St. Ann Church, Marietta, St. Thomas the Apostle Church, Smyrna, and St. Oliver Plunkett Church, Snellville, drew nearly 2,000 attendees, including staff members, lay associates, pastoral assistants, volunteers and parishioners who minister alongside the Missionaries of LaSalette across North America.

The priests and their lay coworkers traveled from as far as California, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and North Carolina for this celebration of faith and prayer, an opportunity to learn about crucial topics and a chance to simply get to know one another.

The LaSalette Missionaries, who have ministered in North America since 1892 and have shrines and parishes across the country, came to the Archdiocese of Atlanta in the summer of 1969 and have served in several parishes. Their community charism of reconciliation was a recurring topic during the summit.

Father Joseph Bachand, provincial superior of the North American Province of Mary, Mother of the Americas, explained the main content of the summit, noting that “the three keynote speakers on Thursday, Friday and Saturday mornings were challenging and encouraging in their messages on lay ministry, the Church’s social teaching and catechesis. Dr. Marti Jewell, Jack Jezreel and Mike Patin, all nationally (if not internationally) known, were well-versed in their respective topics and dynamic in their presentations. They had an obvious love for the Church and the Gospel, and hit just the right note for this gathering. All three were very encouraging in our providing such an opportunity.”

He added, “Workshops and experiences centered around the topics of liturgy and worship, social outreach and hospitality, lay ministry, as well as parish ministry and catechesis.”

Each parish hosted a unique portion of the summit. St. Ann opened the event on Wednesday evening with Father Bachand’s keynote and a reception. Thursday concluded at St. Ann with a concert led by Ed Bolduc and Graham Kuhn. Nearly 1,000 people attended.

St. Thomas the Apostle in Smyrna then held a prayer service, which included members from the Smyrna First Baptist Church, who, during a Christian song, proceeded to quickly paint, on the spot, an eight-foot-high, twenty-foot-wide five-panel figure of the Crucified Lord, which served as the backdrop for the second half of the service. The evening’s meal concluded with ethnic dances from Mexico, India and Ireland.

St. Oliver Plunkett offered many workshops during the day at the Snellville parish and concluded with a Mass presided by Bishop Luis Rafael Zarama. His homily touched upon his own efforts in the area of reconciliation.

Father Bachand was enthusiastic in his praise of this first LaSalette Lay Summit: “Our praying together in every venue, the concert, the dance presentation, and the Mass with Bishop Zarama allowed us to grow in our awareness of our connection to God and to one another. Such variety! Such richness! Let us all give thanks to God for this graced opportunity and rejoice that God continues to use us to promote the message and work of reconciliation.”