Madagascar – Learning About Community

The La Salette Formation Residence of Fenomanana opened in October 1983. On April 25, 1984 it was inaugurated. In an article for Les Annales de La Salette, Fr. Dominique Rakotondrazaka, M.S., the first director of this scholasticate, wrote:

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Fr. Dominique
Rakotondrazaka, M.S.
(1938-1999)

"Now we face the task of building our religious and community life. Little by little we are learning to recognize our hunger for prayer, silence and community sharing. Fortunately our resources contain more than mere human qualities. Our unity stems from our La Salette vocation, which is to follow Christ in the spirit of Our Lady. The real differences that exist among us become the source of mutual enrichment. Our charism as reconcilers is lived in the nitty-gritty of everyday life."

These prophetic words continue to direct and inspire our young men in formation. We see our community life as a growing process tirelessly pursued. Ours is a community life in which each professed is co-responsible for specific areas of service wherein he ministers to the community: the liturgical committee, organizing and animating our prayer life, especially in our simple, modern and tastefully decorated chapel; the library (we are always in need of books!) and health services; the house stewardship ministry whereby everyone becomes acutely aware of the price of our daily subsistence; the maintenance crew for upkeep and decorating of common rooms; the recreation committee for sports and fun times; and the welcoming committee (we are pleased to have our fathers and brothers from active ministries visit and share with us).

All these activities are important so that co-responsibility and joy may be experienced in this young community, a joy that reflects the Spirit and our mutual love. Such an organization is necessarily democratic. Each ministry requires decision-making and initiative. Each enjoys a certain autonomy. And all this is coordinated by the local council, which consists of myself and two councilors, perpetually professed scholastics.

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Fr. Yves Pleyber, M.S.
(born in 1926, ordained in 1952)

These internal community ministries, coupled with the rigorous study schedule at the ISTA (Higher Institute for Theological Studies), would be incomplete and rather self-centered without outside ministries. These are carried out at local parishes: teaching catechism, animating youth groups and scout troops, visiting the prison, etc. They are usually done on Thursday afternoons or on weekends.

Christmas, Easter and summer vacations are spent partly in helping our fathers and brothers throughout the island in their missionary ministries, partly at home with their families. It is important for them not to break off ties with their roots and also to remain in first-hand contact with the real living conditions of the country.

Community life is demanding. It calls for self-sacrifice. It is also enriching because it can bring out the best in each person. It is the sign of the presence of Our Lord among us, and of Mary, Mother of the Church (to whom our Province is dedicated), and Reconciler of Sinners. We all are sinners, but also a Christian community daily living reconciliation, our special dimension of the Cross.

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(left) Students at Mass; (center) students with Fr. Pleyber, M.S., in 2003; (right) students on duty as dishwashers.

 

(from Les Annales, no. 80 and Salette Info, #11, 1992)



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