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Madagascar has known a great intensity of Marist life

 

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Perpetual profession and jubilee of religious life

14/09/2006: Madagascar - Photo gallery

Throughout the month of August the Province of Madagascar has known a great intensity of Marist life with moments of joy, but also an unexpected mourning.
Towards the end of the month, the 24th and 25th August, there was a meeting of various representatives from eight colleges of the brothers for the synthesis of reflections of the Marist International Mission Assembly. The great majority of laypeople contributed a great deal of enthusiasm and showed themselves to be happy to participate so closely to the mission of the brothers in the sharing of the same charism.

The moments of joy came with a perpetual profession and the jubilee of religious life of eleven brothers.

On the 15th August, feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, Brother Jean-Luc Randriatahina made his perpetual profession in his village, Ambohimandroso Atsimo. The young people of the village had been trained in the hymns and the dances for nearly a month. Also the Mass was very alive, with powerful hymns and elegant and dignified dances. In a packed church, Brother Jean-Luc pronounced his perpetual vows before his dad, mum, and his two brothers Modeste and Alexandre, already Marist Brothers. A moving moment was when his dad and mum put their hands on Jean-Luc’s head asking for God’s blessing on him. For these people of the countryside, it was a unique opportunity to see how a man commits himself definitively in his gift to God and certainly that many young people are called to question the direction they are going to follow in their lives.

The joy was even greater on Sunday 27th August when eleven brothers celebrated their jubilee of religious life. The ceremony took place in the cathedral of Antsirabe during the nine o’clock Mass in the morning. In a cathedral filled to capacity with nearly three thousand people, each brother, after the offertory, came to the altar, turned towards the people and then renewed his vows in a slow, strong voice. Each brother was given a papal blessing. Then we were all turned towards the people holding the blessing. The faithful of Antsirabe had never seen a papal blessing, let alone so many in one day. During one of the talks at the end of the Mass, the president of the parish said that never, in her twenty years of presidency, had she been part of such a ceremony and received such a great testimony of fidelity to God.

When we left in procession, crossing the central nave, the faithful had the opportunity to see the papal blessings close up and outside the cathedral many friends, former students and parents greeted us in a very touching way. They were deeply touched by this testimony of fidelity.

The brothers who celebrated the jubilee of fifty years of religious life are: Brothers Maurice Rama, Alphonse Willig, Lucien Razafindrainibe, Norbert Razafindralambo, Emmanuel Ramaroson, Denis Rakotoarivony, Marc Razafintsalama and Giovanni Maria Bigotto. Those who celebrated forty years of religious life are Brothers Bernard Razafimandimby, Jean Léonide Rabemahasoa and Émile Razakaharijaona.

Three brothers, however, were absent: Brothers Maurice Rama, ninety-three years of age, due to his age and health, Alphonse Willig, in France, and Bernard who had died on the 16th August.

Bernard had celebrated his sixty-second birthday on the 13th August in his community of Fianarantsoa. On the 14th, he took a minibus to be present at the celebration of Brother Jean-Luc; he made his way from Fianarantsoa to Antsirabe, 240 kilometres. But when leaving the town of Fianarantsoa a bus from the town crashed into the minibus violently. The brother who was seated in the rear of the bus was thrown forward and gravely injured. The hospital in the town had neither the means to do radiography nor an ambulance to take him to Antananarivo. On the 16th August, the decision was taken to move him to Antananarivo to the clinic of the Sisters. But he died on the way. The funeral was celebrated on the 18th August. In Brother Bernard, simplicity and joy were remarkable. He always taught the younger classes and showed his enthusiasm in organising sports for the little ones.

The month concluded with two sessions of Mariology. The first was given to twenty-two sisters in Antsirabe. The second brought together a group of about forty people: brothers, sisters, Marist teachers, former students, Catholic and Protestant friends, and took place in our Immaculate College also in the town of Antsirabe. The twenty-hour sessions focussed on the passages where the Mother of the Lord is present in the Gospels in the hope rediscovering the roots and the justification of our devotion to the Mother of Jesus. For all, these were moments of rediscovered joy.

These first days of September are days when classes start again. All of our eight schools are full: 1500 to 2000 students, with, sometimes, classes above sixty students. Our schools are situated at Antsiranana (Diego Suarez), Antananarivo, Antsirabe, Fianarantsoa, Ihosy and Betroka. Besides our schools, we take care of the national direction of Catholic schools with Brother Léonide Rabemahasoa, several thousands of schools, and the diocesan direction of schools in the diocese of Ihosy, sixty-nine schools, as well as the mission of Ihorombe, twenty-schools, with the nomad tribe of the Bara. It is Brother Tiana who is the soul of this mission.

The brothers of Madagascar send their greetings to all the brothers of the entire world.

Brother Giovanni Maria Bigotto

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