Παρασκευή 25 Σεπτεμβρίου 2015

Madagascar : "My son! Please... dedicate yourself entirely to ministering to this poor people"

Photo from here
"...The Orthodox mission guides several villages and settlements, some of them are fully converted to Orthodoxy. One of them is the village Ambovandramanesi. It is one of the first villages visited by Father Nectarios. It has one of the strongest Orthodox communities. This is confirmed by a case which happened here. Once there came to the village two American Baptist missionaries. They sermonized for three days. Finally they promised to build a church, a school, and a hospital if everyone were converted. But the elder of the village speaking for all of the locals answered them: "We could demand your departure at the very first day, but we listened to what you wanted to say. Now, when you have finished your sermon, we ask you to leave our village and never come back. We don't need your churches, schools and hospitals as we are Orthodox Christians". The locals were not christened at the time and had not given a promise to build something..." (from here)
Priestmonk Polycarpos of Saint Anna 
During the past month of May our Holy Metropolis here in Madagascar was honored with the visit of the Venerable Primate of the Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa, His Beatitude Theodoros.
The program that followed was admittedly quite exhaustive as he wanted in this short tour in our country, to cover the widest possible range of visits to His beloved flock regardless of cost, conditions and personal physical fatigue.
On Friday afternoon June 5th he arrived in Toliara, the capital of the broader region in the southern part of the country. There he received a very warm reception perfectly and earnestly organized by the whole body of clergy and the people of Toliara. At St. Andrew’s Cathedral he was addressed in the local language by the chancellor of our Holy Metropolis while the crowds of believers accompanied him with enthusiastic applause, an expression of deep emotion and love for their Venerable Primate.

In the Toliara region he also inaugurated the new wing of the Orthodox medical clinic in Betanimena which has been erected courtesy of an anonymous lady-donor from Greece and the overall concern of the Cyprian monk Anastasios, who, with the help of donors from Cyprus, provides full coverage for the maintenance of the clinic in terms of medicine and medical equipment. It is a project that relieves the suffering of the poor in our region since with minimal contribution on the part of the patients it covers the costs of diagnosis and treatment for our sick people in pain and distress. The ceremony was followed by festivities, where His Beatitude the Patriarch was warmly welcomed and addressed by representatives of the state and the local authorities who accompanied him throughout his visit to our town and who expressed their deep gratitude and appreciation not only to His person but also to the Orthodox Church as a whole for their continuous presence and interest in the poor of South.
The events culminated with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy at the Indoor Stadium of Toliara, where both State and Church representatives as well as crowds of clergy and faithful sang and praised God in the first outdoor Patriarchal Divine Liturgy in southern Madagascar.
One of the most emotional moments was when the Venerable Primate of our Patriarchate censed the crowds of believers, who were attending the Divine Liturgy with reverence from the stands of the stadium.
The Patriarch was offering the incense and was blessing the world, the Stadium, our faithful, the clergy, our city…

The journey of our Venerable Primate has come to an end. Now we are sitting with Him by the sea, where the famous Mozambican channel with its angry waves joins our world, the land of Madagascar, with the other similarly unfortunate Mozambique world, the land of Africa. His eyes, when gazing at the ocean, sometimes shed a tear and seem lost in thought. Sometimes they come alive again and talk to you through the serene smile on His face. They tell you about tomorrow, about the missionary vision, about expectations.
He turns to one of the people present and with a deep and heavy tone in his voice utters the great and ultimate address. Not from a piece of paper, but from the bible of the heart; a big heart, full of love and compassion for our fellow man.
My son! Please, have these people at heart and provide for them! Take care of the poor of the remote and isolated regions of Toliara. Care about the faithful of our cities. Make our church shine through this city. Forget anything else, any other possibility for your life and dedicate yourself entirely to ministering to this poor people.
My child! … Safely graze my sheep! And always bear this Cross with love and patience. The Cross whose roots go very deep and meet our sweet basil. The basil that reveals our primeval past and our primal roots. The roots of Orthodoxy, the roots of Faith, Hope and Love in this poor world.
But above all the roots of Love; such a kind of Love that did not hesitate to offer itself in sacrifice for the brother and the fellow man, and is eager to do it again if necessary. Look at the predecessor at the helm of this Holy Metropolis and remember this name forever: Nektarios! He passed on in the deep waters of the Holy Mountain and gave his martyred blood for his last mission in this world. His blessings will always follow you and his life will light your way and guide you!

But my child, bear in mind that the blessings and wishes of a Patriarch will always follow you!
Do not leave, my son!
If you love me, feed my sheep. Be a shepherd for my flock… And I am with you always, even unto the end of the world…
My son! I am going back to Alexandria, but my wishes and my prayers remain with you forever.
My children! I always remember you in my prayers.
May God and our Lady be with you.

Patriachal journey to the largest island of Africa
† Ignatios of Madagascar (from here)

Dear Friends of the Mission,
It is with great pleasure that I communicate with you in order to inform you of the official visit of our Prelatic Shepherd, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa Theodore, to Madagascar last June. This visit was planned long ago, so by the grace of God and the blessing of our spiritual father it was a great success. We praise God and thank everyone who contributed to the good organization of the visit of the Primate, clergy and laity. All of us tried to do the very best we could for the glory of God and our Church.
The venerable Primate with his entourage arrived at the airport on 29th May. There he was welcomed by a large crowd of young and old, all dressed in traditional costumes and holding in their hands small flags of the Patriarchate and of Madagascar. Also present were representatives of the state, ambassadors and other important agents. At the entrance to the Church priests and people were waiting lined up in two rows and chanting «It is truly meet». They all went to the church, where a doxology was performed and speeches were given respectively. His Beatitude thanked everyone for the warm welcome they had reserved for him.
The next day, the Saturday before Pentecost the inauguration of the girls’ orphanage was held on a privately owned Mission land of 10,000 sqm in a suburb of the capital. The construction of the building had begun a long time before with major funding coming from Australian expatriates, with the blessing and support of the Archdiocese of Australia. A wing was funded by the lady donor Mrs. Sarafoglou in memory of her husband Nicholas, through the Orthodox Missionary Fraternity.

The new Girls’ Orphanage of our Mission in Antananarivo

By the grace of God the construction work ended, except for a few remaining details and the interior equipment. The orphanage was a dream come true by the grace of God and with the people’s assistance. In my humble opinion, charity work should be interrelated with missionary work in these countries. The orphanage will be home to both orphaned girls and abandoned ones and will provide these children not only with shelter, clothing and education but also with a bright future and integration into the society.
The opening ceremony took place in a spiritual atmosphere with rich decoration, crowds of people and participation of politicians and other ecclesiastical authorities. The inauguration of the Sacred Church of the Theotokos, which is located within the premises of the Orphanage, was scheduled for the day of Pentecost. The church was built in order to meet the spiritual needs of the children that will be accommodated in the orphanage, but it will also serve as a parish church. It is situated in a good location close to a main road.
The opening ceremony was held with all due solemnity and reverence, while the Archbishop explained the meaning of each moment. The service was a long-lasting one, but the world and the officials stayed till the end. Subsequent to the service, there was a fellowship dinner for the entire congregation accompanied by a rich program of traditional music and dance.
On the Monday of the Holy Spirit there was a Divine Liturgy celebrated at the cathedral, where His Beatitude honored clergymen for their significant contribution to the Church and to the missionary effort as well as laypeople for their selfless love and genuine interest in the Church.

After the Divine Liturgy, His Beatitude met with all the priests of the H. Metropolis, heard their problems and gave them counseling and guidance for their spiritual growth.
The next day, His Beatitude met with the President of the Republic of Madagascar. The meeting was attended by His Excellency the Ambassador of Egypt, the Honorary Consul of Greece and Cyprus and clergymen of the H. Metropolis. His Beatitude informed the President about the missionary and charity work done by our Holy Metropolis.
The event scheduled for the next day, 3rd June 2015, was the opening of the University in Manakara. This town is 600 km away from the capital and is located southeast of the country. The university construction was funded by Christian donors from Karditsa, Greece, upon the initiative of The Very Reverend Archimandrite Fr. Kyriakos Tsolakis, and was built at the request of the District Governor in order to meet basic needs of agronomic nature regarding tropical plants and other types of surveys.
Upon arrival in Manakara, the Patriarch and his entourage as well as all the faithful went to the Holy Trinity Church, a donation of your Fraternity, where a doxology was chanted. His Beatitude spoke briefly to the flock and then, all together, arrived at the university premises, where many people, including official agents, were gathered waiting for their Spiritual Shepherd. The opening ceremony was attended by enthusiastic crowds and a multitude of students. The State Representative thanked His Beatitude for this great contribution of the Church to the Government and conveyed the appreciation and gratitude of the country’s President.

On June 4th there was a scheduled visit of His Beatitude to Arany village for the opening of a high school. The village is two hours away from the missionary center. Schoolchildren in traditional dress holding flags in hand were singing traditional songs. The bells were ringing joyfully until we arrived at the church. Next, we all went to the high school, which is situated beside the church, for the conduction of the Water Blessing ceremony.
On Friday 5th June 2015, His Beatitude with his entourage arrived in Toliara, the biggest town in the southern part of the country. The church was filled with people of all ages, young and old, who had come from the villages to welcome the Patriarch. His Beatitude thanked them and spoke with spiritual words about the salvation of the soul.
The schedule for the next day included the opening of the medical clinic at the missionary center. In this region of Toliara there is a clinic with a lot of departments. The person in charge, Fr. Anastasios from Cyprus, monk and physician, considered a good idea to have hospital-level upgrades for the clinic by creating more departments. The project was completed thanks to the generous donation of an anonymous lady, and on June 6th the inauguration took place. His Beatitude officiated at the Blessing Ceremony and then was shown around all the wings of the clinic.
On Sunday, June 7th, His Beatitude along with the priests celebrated the Divine Liturgy at the indoor stadium of Toliara, which had been properly equipped with a raised platform, a large altar, icons, a throne and all the things required for the celebration of the D. Liturgy. Crowds of faithful as well as officials had been gathering since the morning, Our Christians had arrived by bus in time for the event, even those from the most remote villages. Soon the stadium was filled to capacity.
Everything was marked by the majesty and the splendor of the Eucharist. The Patriarch and the priests as well as the dances created a spiritual atmosphere.
In the end, His Beatitude preached the Word of God, administered Holy Communion and after the dismissal he distributed the holy bread to the people present. Everyone rejoiced and enjoyed this spiritual feast, praising the name of the great God.
Returning to the missionary center, a fellowship meal had been prepared for all the faithful, as it was getting late, and many of them had to take the way back home to their distant villages.
The visit of the Patriarch was a blessing for the Metropolis 0f Madagascar. The presence of His Beatitude was necessary because it gave us courage to continue our struggle, overcome the difficulties and the problems we encounter, communicate with him like a father to his children, talk about our problems freely and unreservedly and make decisions on new projects together in the future. This communication is essential because we are confronted with plenty of difficulties and problems, which requires the mediation of our Patriarch with his long and varied experience.

Please, see also
The Orthodox Christian Church in Madagascar
Orthodox Mission of Madagascar | Facebook
News & articles from the Orthodox Church in Madagascar here & here.


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