From very young, I think 6 years old more or less, I felt the call to follow Jesus forever.
I am Father Louis-María Salle, the second child in a large French family. I was born in the big city of Reims about an hour and a half from Paris. My parents always transmitted the love of God to me before all else. I also received three great blessings in my vocational search: first was serving as an altar boy at Holy Mass every Sunday; second was being a member of the Boy Scouts, an incomparable work of formation for boys, founded by Robert Baden-Powell, which through especially Father Sevin, a holy Jesuit teacher, it was made a more Catholic formation; and the third was knowing the Benedictine Abbey of Fontgombault in central France where I have a brother who is a monk. The spirituality, ecclesial feeling, charity, and the liturgy (especially the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite) marked me for life.
When I grew up, I studied History at the university for a year and then entered the Saint Martin of Tours Community. However, after five years of formation they advised me to take a year of discernment to serve street children through a beautiful work of evangelization call “Puntos Corazón.”
This work sent me to Honduras in Central America. It was a year and half of blessings during which I received more than I gave. It was during this time that I received “a call within a call” as Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta would say, a call to serve the poor and the smallest among them, the children. My brother-monk told me about the Missionary Servants of the Poor Movement that worked mostly in Peru. I returned from Honduras in 2001 and spent a few months in France preparing myself to go for a year’s experience in Cuzco, Peru. I was accepted by the founder of the Movement, Father Giovanni Salerno, and began my studies at the Holy Mary Mother of the Poor House of Formation in Ajofrin, Toledo, Spain. I finished my studies in theology and, by the mercy of the Lord, made my perpetual vows and was ordained a priest.
“My greatest blessing was to have been born in a Catholic family by the grace of Our Lord.”
My praise of Jesus would be nothing without the daily celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, without Adoration, without visits to the Blessed Sacrament, and with the prayers of the Holy Office and the Rosary.
It has been nineteen years since I joined the Missionary Servants of the Poor. Today I am living as a religious priest and missionary at the service of several hundred poor children in the City of Boys near Cuzco where the Movement has its main apostolate. Here in the City of Boys we have an orphanage, a school, and a vocational center where the boys discern a vocation to religious life.
I am forming more than fifty altar boys. I also direct a choir of twenty boys, work in the various sacristies of our houses, teach catechism to the employees of this work and to our poor children. We have also formed a spiritual group of scouts with about 75 boys which meets each Saturday. I celebrate Mass for our Sisters, have an apostolate with a group of soldiers in the Peruvian army whose confessions I hear and whom I guide spiritually. I also have missions in five mountain villages every week where we celebrate the sacraments, give catechesis and religious classes, and take care of the poor.
Daily sharing with our children and our poor becomes the oxygen of our lives. It is the smile of God on earth, as Mother Teresa of Calcutta used to say, against the demon of routine and selfishness.