|Very Rev. Fr. Jeannot Pierre
Rakotonindrainy, M.S., Provincial of the
La Salette Missionaries in Madagascar
Where were you born and raised?
I was born in Antsirabe, Madagascar, the second largest city, in the center of my country, situated on a high plateau, 170 kilometers from Antananarivo, our capital. My father’s name was Rapetera. My father was a originally Protestant and his baptismal first name was Peter. When he converted, he changed his baptismal name to a more Malagasy form of that name. My mother, Henriette, was from a solidly Catholic family and was the President of the Legion of Mary in my local parish. I am the oldest of fourteen children. We have ten boys and four girls and, at that time in the countryside, this was quite normal. I have a lifelong love of soccer. I watch lots of games and play whenever I can.
How did you first hear about La Salette?
In the main church in the center of my local district, which was comprised of 25 churches, the young pastor was a La Salette Missionary, Fr. Raphael Rakotonoeliarimanana, M.S. When I was in seventh grade, I volunteered to teach catechism in my local parish. Each month, we all went to the center parish to take classes in teaching. There I met five La Salette Scholastics who came to give us various experiences, including how to teach, giving religious singing classes, etc. One day, as I was listening to one of the La Salettes, I noticed that he had such a nice voice and was so motivated that I just wanted to be like him. He touched my heart and I felt that I would love to be like him, to become a La Salette religious.
|Medallion signifying the 100th
anniversary of the Madagascar Mission
But I didn’t know to whom I could talk about this desire in my heart to become a La Salette. I talked to a candidate of the Sisters of Fatima about this. She brought me right away to the Bishop of Antsirabe, Bp. Jean-Marie. He was a La Salette but suggested that I first go to the diocesan seminary. When I went to my pastor with my application for the seminary, I spoke instead with Sr. Victoire, former Superior General of the La Salette Sisters. She spoke with me and said that she “saw in me the profile of a missionary” and, after speaking with her, I decided that God was calling me to be a La Salette Missionary. In 1982 I entered the La Salette Apostolic School (High School).
Where have you served as a La Salette?
|Fr. Jeannot and his student body at the
Apostolic School in April, 2004
After my ordination in 1992, I was appointed as associate pastor at the Cathedral in Antsirabe, Paroisse de Notre-Dame de La Salette. After two years, I was assigned to the LA Salette House in St. Louis, Missouri, to learn English and also to experience the mission of the La Salettes in the U.S. I also took preaching classes at a nearby university. Our community life was wonderful. They all supported me while I learned the language and culture. Our regular religious schedule and meals were very helpful to me. The members of my house were so very welcoming to me and I felt very much at home with my extended La Salette family.
When I returned to Madagascar in 1997, I was appointed as Assistant Director of the Scholasticate in Antsahasoa. The following year I became Director of Postulants. Then I became Director of the Apostolic School as well as Director of Lycée Notre Dame de La Salette (Regional High School). Rapidly following these appointments, I was then made Director of the Spiritual Centre and responsible for those receiving Perpetual Vows. Then, in 2006, at the age of 44, I was elected Provincial of our Province and also became a General Councillor.
What is your most impressive experience of the charism of reconciliation?
|A general view of the city of Antananarivo, Madagascar|
In my 6th grade, my mother was hit by a motorcycle, and she was hospitalized for six months. The man who hit her was sent to prison. Me and my younger brother were very angry with him for hurting our mother. After he was let out of prison, he wanted to visit our mother. He was an alcoholic.
My brother and I collected some stones to repay him for what he did. Our mother was very suspicious when she saw that we had collected these stones. She asked us about them. We replied that “when he comes, we will hurt him because of what he did to hurt you.” Her response was: “You really don’t know what you are doing. I am willing to forgive that man when he comes to see me. I want you to do the same! Now throw away your stones.” And we did as she asked.
A few minutes later, the man came to our house. After he greeted our mother and us, he knelt in front of our mother and asked: “Please forgive me.” My mother was crying, and said: “I forgive you totally. I am Christian. I have told my sons to forgive you also.” My brother and I were crying. I will never forget this event for the rest of my life. It taught me what forgiveness is all about. Even though it is painful to forgive, it also makes us free! From that time on, I have kept this event close to my heart and my ministry as a La Salette Missionary.
See professional pictures of the people of Madagascar, taking by a friend of La Salette (click here)