Δευτέρα 7 Σεπτεμβρίου 2015

The Orthodox Christian Church in Madagascar

Orthodox Christianity in Madagascar

From Wikipedia


Christianity in Madagascar was spreading slowly. First, because of the people being faithful followers of the tribal religions. Even converted followers may show great influence of ancient tribal worship. Also, many settlements are isolated, so that missionaries can't visit them very often and locals may return to their cults.
For many African countries, Orthodoxy was brought there by Greek traders. In 1953 in the capital Antananarivo, Greek colonists built an Orthodox Christian temple. After the 1972 military coup, the church's priest was deported together with other foreigners.
Orthodoxy was first brought for the local population here in 1994 by hieromonk Nectarios (Kellis) who arrived from Australia. After 5 years here, there were more than 12 thousand Orthodox Christians and those preparing to be christened.
In Antananarivo, the capital, the temple of the Assumption of Mary was built, together with eparchial directorate and orphanage for several hundred children.
On 26 of March 1995, during the Cross-Bow Week, in the Assumption Cathedral, Metropolitan Zimbabwean Chrysostom ordained deacon Ioann Rikotondrazafi as a presbyter. He is the first Malagasy priest. He became a deacon in the capital of Zimbabwe, the city of Harare. He studied the ministry for three months before that.
The other local resident, Jean-Kristos Tsakanias, was sent to study in the seminary in Nairobi, Kenya.
On the island by 1995 were 63 Orthodox parishes, seven schools and 12 priests who were locals. The Orthodox Church was recognized by the government of Madagascar.
With the blessing of Patriarch Peter VII on 23 of September 1997 the Holy Synod of Alexandria Church elected Father Nectarios the first bishop of Madagascar. Madagascar became the independent eparchia, before that it was part of Zimbabwean metropolia.
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.

Photo from here
Later a medical ambulatory clinic was built on a plot of land gifted by Greek Consul. Here also the hierarch Nectarios planned to build a temple, a seminary, a woman cloister, and an eye clinic.
Bishop Nectarios also ordained the first Malagasy nun named Christodula.
Orthodoxy is most frequently accepted by poorer people. In the villages and settlements people live in huts made of palm leaves; chapels and temples are usually of the same material. Local priests serve in these temples and chapels straggled in rural areas.
In the missions there is a lot of work, and lack of workers. Orthodox missions are the poorest in terms of the resources, but they try to participate in aid programs.
Father Nectarios died in a helicopter crash together with Patriarch Peter VII and 15 other people on 11 September 2004. They were heading to the Holy Mount Athos on board a Greek Army helicopter.


See also

Nectarios (Kellis) of Madagascar

Fr. Nektarios Kellis, the first Bishop of Madagascar (from here)

Bishop Nectarios was a priest in Australia when he read an appeal in a church magazine for missionaries to revive the Orthodox Church in Madagascar. There had been two Orthodox Churches in the country, mostly supported by Greek expatriates, but a military coup in 1972 had resulted in the expulsion of the clergy.
Nectarios pleaded with his bishop (the Bishop of Adelaide) to let him go to Madagascar, but the bishop at first refused, saying that he was too useful to him where he was. Eventually, however, the bishop relented, saying that he knew Nectarios would just be miserable if he were forced to stay.
Nectarios made contact with the publisher of the Greek magazine that contained the appeal, and asked who had written it, and was rather taken aback to learn that it was not an appeal from Orthodox Christians in Madagascar asking for a priest, but that the publisher himself had thought it would be a good idea. Nectarios realised that it would be pioneering missionary work.
Nevertheless he went to Madagascar, which is part of the Greek Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa. He made contact with the families who were looking after the church buildings, and took the son of one of the families with him on his missionary journeys, travelling around the island to villages where there seemed to be no churches, and arranging with the headman of the village to preach the gospel there if anyone was interested. In this way he established several parishes. He sent the young man who had first accompanied him to the theological seminary in Nairobi, and established a school and an orphanage.
On 11 September 2004 he was killed in a helicopter crash along with Petros VII, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and all Africa, and several other clergy.[1]


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Orthodox Archbishopric of Madagascar

From to the official web site of the Orthodox Holly Diocese of Madagascar 
"The Holly Spirit guides the Orthodox Mission's course and Christian Love tears down walls, barriers and nationalistic tendencies. The love of Jesus embraces human pain. Knowing sorrow, sickness and human pauperization guides to the exit of self-sufficiency and shelfishness walls. The joy of Joinning our brothers is a double joy. For those who can hope and those who can offer."
Mission history

The First Orthodox Temple dedicated to Virgin Mary, was founded at Antananarivo in 1947  from the local Greek community.
In 1964, the Temple's operations stopped. In 1994, Bishop Nektarios Kellis and his sister Nektaria Paradisi, commenced their missionary efforts. 
From here: The Diocese of Madagascar was established by Patriarchal and Synodal decree on September 23, 1997. Prior to the formation of the Diocese of Madagascar, the territory of the diocese was part of the Archdiocese of Zimbabwe. During the November 21, 2012 Fall meeting of the Holy Synod of the Church of Alexandria the Diocese of Madagascar was elevated to the Archdiocese of Madagascar. Its territory includes the parishes and missions located in the nation of Madagascar and the Islands of Mauritius, Reunion, Comores, and Maillot [our note : or Mayotte?].
In 1997 the Bishopric of Madagascar is founded having Nektarios Kellis as it's first Bishop, who exhaustlessly and with studiousness, served for ten years. After his sudden death, his beatitude Pope and Patriarch Alexandria and All Africa Theodore II and the Holly Synod of Alexandria Patriarchate in 2004, have elected father Ignatios Sennis to be the Bishop of Madagascar, an experienced missionary due to his service in Calcuta, India. November, 14th 2004 he was consecrated Bishop in Alexandria from his beatitude Pope and Patriarch Alexandria and All Africa Theodore II. His enthronement in Madagascar's Bishopric took place in November, 28th 2004.

Father Ignatios Sennis, Bishop of Madagascar

Spiritual Work

At the moment there are 15 priests and 3 deacons. There are new candidates waiting to be consecrated.

A true light are for Madagascar the 40 temples (whilst 3 are under construction) built in distant villages away from the country's capital, thanks to the love of Christians from all over the world.

Many days of travel are required for the priests to move from one village to another. In some cases they are compelled to travel 1.500 Km of harsh road and extreme conditions.

An ecclesiastical school have been established, with a 2-years course for candidate priests.

Every month the Bishop is giving a 3-day seminar for priests.

A 2-months period seminar is taking place every August for all Orthodox catechists in Madagascar.

There are service and other spiritual books already translated to the local language (Malagasy).

Joy in heaven and on earth for our 5000 baptized brothers.

Spiritual preparation for the 300 catechumens, waiting their baptism.

Holly ceremony is performed in the local language (Malagasy).

After baptism, married couples proceed to the marital ceremony. You can really feel the solemnity of prime Christian years in these ceremonies.

Philanthropic Work

"Walking many times through the villages, I see nothing but poverty and misery. Hovels made of mud or clay, no toilets, no water, no electricity. Children covered in dirt and dust wearing rugs. Young children and adults are reaching out asking something we disregard, because it is simple, ordinary and of no value to us, a sugar-candy.

(Ignatios, Bishop of Madagascar)


For many children their breakfast is the first and only meal of the day. Naked, barefoot and tympanized bellies of hunger, many of them are babies barely walking. Every day the number of children asking for breakfast is increasing and can't refuse.

Every morning more than 800 children are having breakfast in the Bishopric premises. They patiently wait their turn for a cup of hot milk and some biscuits.

Every Monday 600 families, carefully selected, come to the Bishopric premises for food. They are poor and exhausted. They walk for many hours or days to get some basic foodstuff absolutely necessary for their survival.

Regularly they are given basic clothing items.

Every year, containers arrive from Greece and Australia full of goods.

The Orthodox mission organizes regular trips to distant villages scattered all over Madagascar, distributing food and clothing. Bags with clothing, food, stationery, shoes and medicines are given to people who need it the most.

Greek Orthodox Church, associations, individuals, from Greece, Australia and America, collect and send us all these items and money motivated from true love and interest.


By the Bishopric premises, we operate a Medical Center, which  includes pathology and eye-clinic, dentist, gynecology clinic and microbiology lab. The latter, although fully equipped is not yet operating.

Every day 40 patients are examined, and free medicines are provided to them from the clinic's pharmacy. The mission covers the hospital treatment fees for patients that need surgical treatment. We schedule for the future to establish and operate clinics to distant villages. Patients here, don't have enough money to pay doctors, medical examinations and medicines. Free provision of all these is a real salvation to them.

One of the mission's greatest concern is the education of the children. For that purpose 8 primary schools have been established and are being maintained whilst more are being build. Most children are poor and can't afford school training. There are areas with no elementary training at all. Building schools is imperative to cover the educational needs of the children and reinforce their Orthodox faith in these areas.


A big nursing home was recently completed next to the Bishop's residence. The nursing home premises include library and also an events room.

Mission's prospects

One of the primary targets of the Mission is to build an orphanage for girls. For that purpose a land of 80 sq. Km has already been bought in 2006 just outside the city of Antananarivo. The orphanage premises will include: A Church, Surgery, High School (Junior & Senior), Labs.

Also, during 2006 another land was bought in Antananarivo to host the Bishopric premises.

The mission helps poor families, pays the rent and constructs houses for families that live in clay hovels and shacks.

Mission people also visit prisons and help prisoners in any way they can.

During this period 30 Temples are being renovated and equipped. It is an expensive and time consuming work.
Volunteers from Greece, Australia and America support Orthodox mission's efforts. Mission's revenues mainly come from the Church of Greece, Dioceses, Monasteries and donations from associations and individuals from Greece, Australia and America. However, there is still an enormous amount of work to be done. Priests, doctors, nurses, civil engineers and every single volunteer are needed to come in Madagascar and help us in that difficult and laborious work.
So we appeal to your love.


Compiled by Archimandrite Markos Theodosi

Patriarchate of Alexandria

On 3rd June 2015, the Patriarch flew to Manakara where he was welcomed by the district commissioner and crowds of people. The Alexandrian Primate visited the offices of the district commissioner where he offered spiritual words to the people of the area and told them to have patience for a better future in the difficult circumstances under which they live, as the people live on what nature produces, in some of the rarest flora and fauna in the world.
At the Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity in Manakara, the children and the packed crowds welcomed the Patriarch with a doxology and gave His Beatitude traditional handmade gifts.
The day ended with the inauguration of the first Orthodox University in Madagascar, under the auspices of the Holy Metropolis. The Alexandrian Primate conducted the Service of Sanctification. Present were the Representative of the Madagascar Parliament, the Mayor of Manakara, the District Commissioner, the local Metropolitan, clergy from the Metropolis and the people of Manakara. His Beatitude spoke with affection and love to the people saying that this facility will be for the children of Manakara, who are the future of the country. He also expressed the wish that more philanthropic institutions would be established for the benefit of this very poor country. Addressing Fr Apostolos he prayed that a monastic centre of care and contribution to the people would grow there too. There were tear-filled eyes when the National Anthem of Greece was heard and the Greek flag raised.
The University is a donation by Archimandrite Kyriakos Tsolakis from Karditsa and the Patriarch spoke of him with gratitude. Manakara is a city on the Indian Ocean coast.

See also

Orthodox Mission of Madagascar | Facebook
News & articles from the Orthodox Church in Madagascar here & here.

The videos from Orthodox Missionary Fraternity

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