National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette, Attleboro, Mssachusetts, USA


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Mystery Worshipper:
Church: National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette
Location: Attleboro, Mssachusetts, USA
Date of visit: Sunday, 28 April 2019, 12:10pm

The building

The shrine church is a hideous modern structure made out of cinderblocks. It was built to replace an older edifice that had been destroyed during a 1999 fire. It is configured in an in-the-round style with a central altar that is approached by numerous aisles. There is no organ, but a small inset in the wall where the choir sets up, to the left of the altar, appears to have been designed for an organ console. The tabernacle, rather than being placed behind the altar, is in a small room to the right that is visible from most of the pews. The shrine itself dates to 1952 and consists of a retreat house, outdoor grotto, Rosary walk, gift shop and priests' residence.

The church

The Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette is best known for its immense Christmas light display that brings people from all over New England and beyond. It is a family tradition for both Catholics and non-Catholics alike to visit the lights during the Advent and Christmas seasons.

The neighborhood

Attleboro was once known for its place in jewelry manufacturing, but over the past several decades has evolved into more of a bedroom community for Providence and Boston. Although the city is closer to Providence than to Boston, home prices there are relatively affordable, and many residents commute into Boston by rail.

The cast

There were two priests and a deacon, as well as several extraordinary ministers (so many I lost count), a parade of flag bearers, a piano player, a guitarist, and a choir consisting of several women.

What was the name of the service?

Mass for the Second Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday).

How full was the building?

Overflowing. It was a special mass being celebrated in honor of the Catholic devotion to Divine Mercy as well as being attended by a well known healing priest who held a healing service afterwards.

Did anyone welcome you personally?

Just before in the start of the mass they asked everyone to greet each other.

Was your pew comfortable?


How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?

It was generally quiet except for the choir warming up. There were a few people chatting in hushed words.

What were the exact opening words of the service?

‘Good morning’ and then the priest introduced himself.

What books did the congregation use during the service?

The standard OCP (Oregon Catholic Press) worship resource with the readings near the front and hymns at the back.

What musical instruments were played?

Piano and two guitars.

Did anything distract you?

The sheer number of individuals who processed in at the start of the mass – I lost count! They included the two priests, a deacon, some altar boys, some readers, some extraordinary ministers, and some flag bearers carrying red and white flags on poles that I just couldn't figure out.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?

A bit in between. It followed the order of the mass, but the hymns were the terrible campfire songs that so many Catholic church musicians have become enamored with.

Exactly how long was the sermon?

16 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?

9 — The priest is a well know preacher and he was very good. One thing that struck me is that it was very clear how much pain he was in. It is known that he suffers from several health problems, but he still makes an effort to get out and speak to crowds. In fact, he had a man helping him walk and stand.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?

Divine mercy and how we all need the mercy of God.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?

Truthfully, the effort the priest was clearly putting into being present for people. He was sacrificing his personal comfort for the people he had come to preach to.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?

The campfire songs and the greeting. I am not talented enough to sing campfire songs and I like the flow of the mass – so anything that disrupts that, I have some trouble with.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?

There was a healing service after the mass. Mrs Devote and the little Devotette, and a couple of others in our party, went up for the laying on of hands. One of my friends – a tall man, and large – fell, whether by accident or slain in the Spirit we couldn’t tell – but we took that as our exit cue.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?

Not applicable.

How would you feel about making another visit (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?

5 — I enjoy visiting the shrine around Christmastime – it’s a family tradition. However, I like my liturgies to be a bit more traditional than today’s service.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?

Yes. The older priest and his obvious devotion were quite edifying.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time ?

My friend falling and hitting the ground pretty hard ... no, he wasn't hurt.

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