St. John Paul II Parish in Morodava – The History

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Parafia Morond Hist11 Parafia Morond Hist10Our delegation to the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in Madagascar responded positively to the request of Marie Fabien Raharilamboniaina, the Bishop of the Diocese of Morondava. On November 25, 2012, we began work on a new Oblate mission in the diocese. The new foundation has two stages: first is the creation of a new parish in the city, and then the care of the bush mission.

Morondava is a city with 24,000 inhabitants (the number grows to 70,000 inhabitants when taking into account those living in the peripheral districts) located along the Channel of Mozambique on the west coast of Madagascar. There is no industry in this region. Most people are fishermen while others are cattle and goat herders. The land in the Morondava region is very fertile. Unfortunately, the lack of water does not allow for good use of this fertile soil.

For many years, the Morondava Diocese was very isolated from other regions because of the lack of roads. Since four years ago, the road to the capital is made of asphalt which allows for better commute and transportation. This new road attracts new people who want to settle here.

There are not many Christians in the Diocese of Morondava (known as the Menabe region). The Sakalava tribe that lives here is very attached to their traditional religion. Most Christians in our local parishes come from other parts of Madagascar.

On November 25, 2012, the feast of Christ the King,  during Holy Mass at the cathedral, Bishop Marie Fabien Raharilamboniain welcomed the Oblates to the diocese. Christians from one of the districts of this city called TSIMAHAVAOBE, where a new parish was created under the patronage of St. John Paul II, sat together in one row of pews in the church. As a sign of welcome we received from them a sheep, several plates, forks, spoons and a dozen envelopes with money.

Together with the bishop and two diocesan priests, we established the boundaries of the new parish. In addition to the Christians who live on the outskirts of the city, where the land for the new church is located, a part of the Tsimahavaobe district has been incorporated into the new parish. Until now it belonged to the cathedral parish of “The Queen Mary” and the parish of “St. Theresa of the Child Jesus”. All in all, our new parish takes up a lot of space.  

It can be said that the beginning of our work was better than what we thought it would be during exploratory visit. Prior to arriving in Morondava, we thought the number of our Christians would be around one hundred. On Sunday, December 2, 2012, 232 Christians came to pray and on Christmas Day 328 people have arrived. Not many children were present then, because until the end of the catechetical year 2012/2013 children still had to pray in the two preceding parishes. There are about 120 of them.

Every Sunday we prayed outside. On Saturday morning and Sunday morning we prepared a place for Mass. During the first Mass that we celebrated outside, after only 40 minutes, the sun was so strong that we had to change the placement of the altar and the seats for the Christians.

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Seeing the large number of Christians coming to Mass and their zeal and difficulty in celebrating an outdoor Mass every day, we have decided to build a new chapel to have a roof over our heads .

On Tuesday, December 11, 2012, we began building a new chapel. Its size: 10 meters wide and 15 meters long. My desire was to have this chapel be at least 5 meters longer, but we did not have the financial resources to do so.

We needed this chapel to calmly pray without risking the great Morondava heat (37 degrees), to organize committee meetings and various parish movements. The small sacristy (4x4 m) also served as my office when I met with people.

My associate pastor and I, Father Léonce Andriamananten Riri, live in a house rented by a bishop. It serves as a temporary house for the Oblate community until we build our own home on the parish grounds.

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Four times a week, at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, we visit families together with the parish committee. During these visits we talk to the families, there is mutual introduction, and finally the blessings of families and their homes. We invite them for group prayers and catechism in the new parish.

 

 

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Apart from working in the parish, I was appointed a hospital chaplain in Morondava. I visit the sick in the hospital. At the end of every visit, I celebrate the Holy Mass in the hospital hangar. Unfortunately there is no other place to do it. I am also responsible for spreading the cult of the Divine Mercy initiated by Sister Faustina, which is well rooted in Madagascar.

 

 

Father Riri is responsible for the youth movement in the diocese and is also the pastor of the disabled. Also, he is often invited to preach a retreat in various parishes.                                           

Father Mariusz Kasperski OMI