|(left) Fr. Joe Silva with his younger
parishioners; (right) Fr. Wladyslaw
Czosnek, M.S., on a visit to a village
Mission work can be slow and difficult but usually in time progress can be measured in very tangible ways, for example, in the Ambatolahy, Madagascar district. Throughout the years its history was very much “stop and go”. At times it would have a resident priest, at other times there would be only an occasional visit from the priest and then because of shortages, no priest at all.
But times have changed. Ambatolahy now has two permanent priests. And practically every year now we have been able to bless a new chapel in the surrounding villages. First there was the village of Antjoa, then there was Janjina and now there is Ambiky. Ambikky is an important village because it is the hub for six other villages. It has no Christians yet but it does have a catechist. And as the church will serve as a school, we hope to have a Christian community there very soon.
Another interesting area is that of Soamazava. Interesting because after so many years of forced neglect there are still many good Catholics there. Fr. Czosnek came there in 1968 and had planned to build a church. Also Frs. Joe Silva and Jack Nuelle had visited this village from time to time. It is amazing to see how the faith has been able to endure even after so many years without a sustained presence.
When Bishop Donald visited this village years ago, nearly one hundred people came to the Mass. Many of the old people fondly remember Frs. Czosnek and Jack. Somehow these simple people kept their faith alive even though there was no Sunday liturgy. Now twenty or thirty villagers will gather every Sunday for prayer.
There is hope that we can keep up the effort to build a solid Catholic community. The challenges are always there from battling bad roads, deep sand and rivers to finding the resources to build a small church and to furnish a catechist.
In 1949, the La Salettes in Morodava, Madagascar were: (seated, from left) Fr. Joseph Ihhof - Superior General; Msgr. Etienne Garon, Raphael Lanfranconi; (standing, middle row, from left) Dorvalk, Bernard De Boisseson, Joseph L’Haridon, Bro. John, Arthur LeBlanc; (standing, back row, from left) Wladyslaw Czosnek, Msgr. Paul Girouard, Pierre Costiou, Cecil McDonald.