The Apostle of Prisons

LatasteImage via Wikipedia
Why have I been so discombobulated, today?  It's because my mind's been on the Apostle of Prisons.  Every since I've learned that Pere Marie Jean Joseph Lataste, OP has been favorably considered for beatification, I can't wipe the smile off my face.  I'm so happy!  All we "Latasties" are celebrating.

My "cloistered brothers," and others who follow the spirituality of Pere Lataste are thrilled.  The Dominican Sisters of Bethany, (Lataste founded them) I'm sure, are planning a party.  And I want to go.

Who is he?  Pere M. Jean-Joseph Lataste, O.P. was a French Dominican Friar who lived in the nineteenth century.  He had a vision for the rehabilitation of prisoners through God's love.  He saw something marvelous happen during the first retreat that he gave at Cadillac prison in 1865.  He saw redemption, not as an abstract concept, but right in front of him.  The Holy Spirit not only touched the women prisoners, but also his own heart.  You can see the tone of his retreat change, as he nears the middle of his talk.  He was one of the converts, himself!  

Since the time was the nineteenth century, his converts had a hard time finding work, once released from prison.  What jobs could women do then?  They didn't want to go back to the old ways of life that had landed them in prison.  They needed a community for support.  Hence, the Dominican Sisters of Bethany was born.  And it wasn't easy.  I can just imagine the look on the Dominican friars' faces, at Lataste's proposal: "What!  You want to put a prostitute in a Dominican habit!"  Pere Lataste had what my "cloistered brothers" would call "theological cojones."

But you know, if it's the work of the Holy Spirit, it will happen.  And so it did.

My "cloistered brothers" tell the same story when they tried to set up a Lay Dominican Chapter.   They still have the "cease and desist" letter from the Archdiocese of Boston, in their archives.  There's an online book about my brothers' journey called A Word of Hope, if your interested.

Everyone who follows Pere Lataste's teachings is known as a Latastie.  We Latasties are celebrating now.  We have been praying for Pere's beatification for awhile.  He already was made venerable in 2007.  In fact, I made up a prayer, for his beatification   

O Lord of all that is good and holy. You see those of us who love and serve You faithfully. If it be Your Will, I ask you to glorify Your faithful friar, Father Marie Jean-Joseph Lataste, O.P. He exemplified Jesus' teachings on mercy, forgiveness, and love. He taught the forgotten, the poor, the marginalized, and the imprisoned, that all Your people are loved equally by You. Pere Lataste said that the prisoner was loved the same as a priest, in Your eyes. His clear and courageous preaching of Your Truths converted many hardened hearts to embrace the Faith. His love for the Blessed Mother moved many to love Your Son. He inspired the lives of the women prisoners in Cadillac, France, to establish the Dominican Sisters of Bethany. He gave his all for You, zealously bringing people to You. His will was to do Your Will.
Lord, if it be Your Divine Will, I ask you to glorify Your loving and faithful servant, Father Marie Jean-Joseph Lataste, O.P. I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord and Savior. Amen

Deo Gratias!  It is God's Will.

Providentially, the Dominican Sisters of Bethany have constructed a new chapel for Fr. Lataste's remains.  He is buried there and pilgrims can visit.  MMmmmmm.......wouldn't that be the perfect place for a celebratory ceremony?
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