Adapted by AB Griffin, ACN Canada
The parish of Antsohihy, in north-west Madagascar, lies in a region of primary evangelization where the people are only now coming to embrace Christianity. Around 12,000 people in this area are already Catholic; however, most of the population still adheres to traditional pagan African religions. Within the territory of this vast parish there are 26 mission stations with their own simple chapels – in many cases they are no more than straw huts. An underdeveloped region, with no electricity, telephone or postal services, many of the villages lie in the dense rainforest, and only 40% of the children actually go to school.
Most of the Faith proclamation work is provided by lay-catechists who prepare the people for the sacraments of Baptism, Confession, First Holy Communion, and Matrimony. Clearly, it is impossible for the local priest to be in all these villages at once, so each village has its own catechist to give instruction in the Faith and also to call together the people for a time of prayer.
The village of Andrafia, with its 1,400 inhabitants, is no exception. It also has its own catechist, but only the priest can actually administer the sacraments, and therefore, twice a month, a priest comes to visit the villagers. Until recently, Holy Mass was celebrated in a hut belonging to one of the village families, but now, thanks to our generous benefactors and a grant from ACN of $57,000, a more permanent chapel has been built recently in Andrafia, as well as a small lodging for the visiting priest who comes from afar. He will now have somewhere to sleep for the night.
Thank you to all
Father Jean Bosco, the diocesan bursar for the diocese of Ambanja, has written to us to thank all our benefactors for helping to make possible the building of this new simple chapel, a much anticipated one for all the Catholic faithful of the region. “I send my greetings, and thank you all, on behalf of all the Christians in the region who helped so enthusiastically with the building of “their” church. Everybody contributed something towards the building of the chapel, so that now the Catholic faithful can gather on Sundays to pray, sing, receive instruction, hear the Word of God and gather round the Table of the Lord to receive the Bread of Life. The young people carried sand and stones, the women collected water and the children spent their playtime watching,” he writes, and concludes: “I assure you of my grateful prayers and those of all the Christians in Andrafia and in our entire diocese.”