15 November 2023
15 Nov 2023

Formation: a priority for Dehonians in Madagascar

The Superior General recently visited the region of Madagascar, a few weeks after the fifth Regional Chapter was held. Interview with Father Jean Léonard Ramarofanomezana, Regional Superior, about the Chapter and the Superior General's visit.

by  Boris Igor Signe, scj

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Reverend Father, from October 08 to November 05, 2023, the Superior General visited the region of Madagascar. How did the visit go overall?

We thank God that, in general, the visit went well. There were no problems, and Father General and his councilor were able to visit all the communities except one, which we didn’t include in the program because of the difficulty of the road.

What can you say about the Madagascar Region at the time of the Superior General’s visit? 

The Madagascar Region is getting ready to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Dehonian presence in Madagascar, because if history is anything to go by, the first Dehonian missionary from the Province of Southern Italy landed in Madagascar in 1974.

Dehonian priests have been involved in three areas since their arrival in Madagascar: Direct pastoral care before 1990, training after 1990, and socio-educational pastoral care after 2000.

The Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus are present in seven dioceses in Madagascar, divided into 13 houses. I would like to point out here that there are houses that do not yet meet the requirements of being a community: there are still those that depend directly on the Regional House, and the missionary districts are grouped into territorial communities.

The Madagascar region has 82 members, including 2 bishops, 33 priests, 1 brother and 46 scholastics.

The Superior General’s visit comes on the heels of the fifth regional chapter in Madagascar last September. In your discussions with the Superior General, did you go over the main points of the chapter?

Even if there was no direct discussion with Father General on the subjects addressed at the regional chapter, it has to be said that they were automatically addressed, as these are the areas in which the SCJs of Madagascar work in.

Your chapter has taken decisions particularly in areas such as parish ministry, vocation ministry, formation and involvement in the social and educational sector. Which of these areas do you think the Superior General is most interested in?

Because the General Government is particularly interested in formation. That’s the aspect I can see him putting particular emphasis on: whether it’s initial formation or ongoing formation. The preparation of confreres as formation directors and the organization of ongoing formation are of great importance in this respect.

Father General is also interested in the social and educational sector, as it is part of our charism and our history,” he declared. Collaboration with other entities and the preparation of confreres for involvement in this field also play an important role.

What are the current challenges facing your region?

The current challenges facing the MADA Region are as follows:

  • Particular attention to initial and ongoing formation
  • Administration of assets to achieve self-financing
  • Special care for the community
  • Sharing the charism with the laity
  • Mastering the use of technology (Facebook, Internet…)

Do you think the Superior General’s visit will give new impetus to the confreres’ missionary commitment?

The visit brings us closer to the confreres. Father General listened to the confreres, encouraged them and shared their joys, worries, anxieties and concerns. I think all this is a new force that will give a new dynamism to the confreres’ missionary commitment.

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