The La Salette Missionaries are selling land in Enfield, New Hampshire, on which they have kept a shrine to Our Lady of La Salette since early in the 20th century, following announcement of their decision to close the shrine due to lack of priests.
Reported this week by the local Valley News newspaper, the sale of the property will be to the adjacent Shaker Museum. Neither party has disclosed the sale price, but Valley News reported that the museum has announced plans for a $3 million capital campaign ahead of the sale, which is slated to close at the end of September.
The shrine announced its decision to close earlier this year, in a letter signed by the La Salette provincial, Fr. William Kaliyadan. Excerpts of the letter were posted to social media on May 2nd.
“The difficult decision to close the shrine and its ministries is because of the declining number of vocations in the La Salette community,” the announcement said. “We hope the La Salette mission and charism will continue somehow in the Upper Valley,” i.e. the Upper Connecticut River Valley in central New Hampshire, “through our La Salette Laity and Associates.”
Kaliyadan told the New Hampshire Union Leader newspaper they would disclose details of the sale including the purchase price in late October. He described the development as “a beautiful conciliation between the Shakers and the La Salettes who share a long history.”
It was from the neighboring Shaker community that the La Salette Missionaries first purchased a sprawling plot overlooking Mascoma Lake in Grafton County in 1927. The Shakers sold the property to the La Salettes in order to ensure “the continued tradition of spiritual, communal life on the site,” according to lasalette.org.
The shrine was dedicated in 1951, and the La Salette missionaries continued to make active agricultural use of the land, as had the Shakers before them.
The shrine complex boasted a high school seminary facility, the first freshman class of which came in 1928. The school closed in 1974, due to a combination of rising costs and declining vocations to La Salette life from the student body. A group of private investors purchased several of the buildings and grounds in 1985.
The La Salette Missionaries decided last year to dedicate more resources to their National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette in Attleboro, Massachusetts, some 160 miles southeast of the Enfield shrine in central New Hampshire.
The last Mass marking the Feast of Our Lady of La Salette at the Enfield shrine dedicated to her will be this September 19th.