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Centenary of the arrival of the Brothers in Madagascar

22/11/2011: Madagascar - Photo gallery

« Marista mitondra aina vaovao » (Marists, bearers of new life). This is the slogan for the celebration of the arrival of the Marist Brothers in Madagascar. One hundred years of work and sacrifices in the service of evangelisation. One hundred years of education and, above all, presence among young Malagasy! Such an occasion deserves to be marked not only to celebrate the anniversary but to recognize the mission accomplished by the Brothers during all these years on Malagasy soil. It is, above all, a time full of thanksgiving for the whole course run since the arrival of the pioneers in 1912. Saint Marcellin Champagnat, our Founder stated it well: « If the Lord does not build the house, the builders work in vain » (Ps. 126).

Antsirabe and Betafo are the centres where the different events took place from 13 to 15 August. More than 500 people took a direct part in the celebration. Each of the seven  Marist schools sent representatives, principally students, teachers and Brothers. The classrooms of the private Lycée Saint Joseph of Antsirabe and those of the Collège Saint Louis of Betafo served as shelter for the pilgrims.

Betafo was the first mission station of the first Marist missionaries sent to Madagascar. The Brothers worked there up to 1976. At present, the Salesian Fathers run the school and the parish. They collaborated with the Brothers in the organisation and holding of the jubilee.

The carnival around the city of Antsirabe, the Antsirabe-Betafo pilgrimage (a distance of 23km) and the Mass of Thanksgiving in the Cathedral of Betafo on 15 August, were the highlights of the celebration. The Bishop emeritus of Antsirabe, Mgr Félix Ramananarivo, presided at the Eucharistic celebration, accompanied by a number of priests, among them the parish priest of the Saint Louis de Gonzague parish of Betafo, his curate, and other priests, close collaborators and past students of the Marist Brothers. After the Mass, the guests came together in the main hall of the Collège Saint Louis for a fraternal meal to mark the event. The afternoon was devoted to cultural activities: the students from the various schools presented dances specific to their region. Through their dances, speeches and choreography inspired by their regions of origin, the students succeeded in expressing their joy and gratitude towards the Marist Brothers for their total devotion to the Christian education of youth.

The celebration of the centenary of the arrival and the presence of the Marist Brothers in  Madagascar is spread over a year. Different manifestations and activities are planned to mark the 100 years of Marist presence in the great island. In fact, courses, exhibitions, conferences, debates and many other events are among the activities destined for the celebration of the anniversary.

May the celebration of this jubilee help the Marists of Madagascar to become more attentive to the calls of the Holy Spirit in order to become better engaged in their  mission. Let us also pray that they have enough courage and audacity to « go in haste with Mary to new lands » to make Jesus known and loved by other young people.

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RAZAFIMANDIMBY Maminiaina Michel, fms
Province of Madagascar

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