Tranquility base here

Tranquility Base is more commonly known as the area where U.S. astronauts landed on the moon and walked its surface for the first time in July of 1969. I prefer to refer to tranquility base as the chapel at the La Salette Retreat Center in Attleboro.

The chapel and the retreat house are celebrating 50 years of providing a haven of peace, comfort, and prayer to thousands of people who have passed through the doors there.

Going to La Salette Shrine is always a treat, whether it be for the Festival of Lights, a simple walk around the grounds, or attending one of a plethora of Spiritual events that happen there. But a visit to the chapel in the retreat house is always my favorite destination.

Last week I went to the house to take some pictures of the center for The Anchor for the story that appears on page one of this week’s edition. I made a point to enter the holy ground of the chapel.

My first visit to the chapel was when I made a Cursillo weekend in October of 1986. On that weekend the chapel became a home away from home. My fellow candidates and the team members shared two very special Liturgies there, and there was time for quiet contemplation on my own. It was truly an oasis in a desert of busyness and sometimes craziness.

I later served on team for Cursillo, and also was a member of the Cursillo music ministry, playing guitar at so many inspiring Masses there I can’t even count them.

Having lived the Cursillo experience as a candidate, team member and music minister, I knew very well the transformations that can take place during three days of intense Spirituality. And the chapel was one of the prime sources.

While on music ministry I couldn’t help but watch the faces of the men and women candidates throughout the weekend Liturgies. Most went from exhibiting a countenance of fear or apathy to that of acceptance, reconciliation and peace. I’ve seen (and shed) countless tears of joy, peace and relief in that special chapel over the years.

I also was on team for a parish Confirmation weekend retreat there. It didn’t matter who my Spiritual companions were, the chapel always welcomed me with open arms.

When I entered the chapel last week all the warm feelings rushed back as I genuflected before the Blessed Sacrament. To me, the small, welcoming chapel has an aura about it. I was alone, on the job, yet was still surrounded by God’s grace and peace.

There are very few places on earth — to which I have been — that have filled me with such emotions.

I wish that everyone, at least once in their existence, can enter a place and come away with a life-altering experience. It’s one of those little gifts from the Father that keeps us going in a world where it’s so easy to give up. 

On July 20, 1969, when Apollo 11 landed on the moon, Commander Neil Armstrong said, “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” But area faithful can enter tranquility base in Attleboro, and be lifted on Eagles’ Wings.

Dave Jolivet can be contacted at davejolivet@anchornews.org.

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