By the grace of God and with the blessing of His Beatitude Pope and Patriarch Theodore, our Church’s mission and charity work progresses to the glory of God and to the salvation of His people. The words of the Lord referring to the Gospel are always contemporary in our minds as well as in actual practice.
It is our love for our brothers that makes us want their evangelism and the salvation of their souls and it is this love that always keeps us alert and in readiness. With the eyes of our soul, we see in depth the holy mission of our Church spread the sacred Gospel so that these people become real children of God by grace through the Holy Sacraments.
Last September, many people who had been catechized before, partook of the first Mystery of our Church, Baptism. “Joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth”. The church fonts as well as the rivers become the Siloam’s fonts that regenerate our newly-illumined brothers. This joy gives us strength to defy the troubles, discomforts and dangers that we encounter and continue our struggle in distant Madagascar.
We felt the same joy when we finished the construction of a middle school in Mahasolo village, where several years ago we built the sacred church of the Holy Trinity. I remember old Abraham and his wife Sarah, full of enthusiasm and love for Orthodoxy, becoming Orthodox and building a church-a mud hut at the beginning. Since then, he has been keeping a guest book, and every time we go there, he reminds us which priest celebrated the Divine Liturgy the previous time and when-that is, the exact date, and his signature underneath. Indeed, what a moving thing to do!
After the school construction was finished, the Consecration and Opening date was set with the participation of political authorities, the schools of the surrounding areas, as well as the Orthodox school, which is temporarily housed in an old building. The celebration began with the rise of the two flags (of Greece and Madagascar), and our emotion culminated when the national anthem of Greece was heard. With their work, our missionaries far and wide are worthy representatives of our small but honored homeland.
There were speeches given by many people about the nice work that will offer the poor children of this remote village the chance to attend school tuition-free and help them further their education so that they will become people useful to the society. Here we would like to express our deep gratitude to the school donor for his generous support in memory of his late daughter Despina. Eternal be her memory!
The missionary struggle continues in the charity field as well, with the female orphanage being the first and most important project. The orphanage has been operating since last year and today it hosts 50 orphaned girls. We earnestly thank the anonymous donor of the Orthodox Missionary Fraternity for the orphanage’s interior equipment. Several beds have been built on the first floor as well as wardrobes. Also on the ground floor there is a refectory with several tables and seats for approximately 150 children. We praise God for His providence and His care not only for the construction of the building but also for its interior fittings.
There are two problems that we have had to face for the last two years. The first is the typhoons, which leave considerable damage on their way. Due to landslide, two churches in different villages have suffered great damage and have been rendered non-operational. The sacred services take place in schools next to the churches. Since this has been going on for quite some time now, the Orthodox Christians are, in a way, complaining and are asking for a new church to carry out their worship duties. We earnestly appeal to the Orthodox Missionary Fraternity and to all Christians to help us rebuild these sacred churches. We are well aware of the crisis that our country is going through, as well as most people’s narrow resources. However, we believe that when we give from the little we have, this money is blessed by God, therefore the new sacred church will eventually be blessed and rebuilt. Severe weather conditions cause big damage to buildings (churches and schools), with a resulting need for constant repairs and maintenance. Strong winds blow off buildings roofs, as the day before yesterday the mighty winds ripped off St. Christina’s church roof-top in the Tulear region.
The second problem started at the beginning of October. Since then, the capital city of Antananarivo has been infested with mice. The people are terrified as there are many victims of the infectious diseases that mice carry and spread every year. All schools are closed.
The construction of the Ascension Church in the Tulear region has been completed, and will soon be consecrated. This was another great blessing coming from a donor of your Fraternity, whom we are grateful to. What is pending though, is the completion of the interior equipment. Once again, I appeal to your kind heart for support- to the extent this is possible- so that the churches can operate regularly and the faithful can perform their duties unhindered.
Finally, we would like to express our sincere gratitude to the Orthodox Missionary Fraternity, which always stands by our missionary work by implementing new projects and by providing financial support for the general needs of the Mission.
† Ignatius of Madagascar