In order to prepare for the Centenary of the Pasch of Blessed Brother Charles de Foucauld and the next Continental Assembly of the lay fraternities of Africa, in regard to which Madagascar figures as one of the proposed countries to host it, the six members of the of the national team from six groups of the Spiritual Family in Madagascar (three laity: two men and one woman, a religious sister and two priests) met in an extraordinary meeting over three days, the 25, 26 and 27 February 2015.
At the end of the meeting, the laity were charged with transmitting the results of our exchanges and reflections at their next assembly as rapidly as possible to the continental Responsible, in the form of proposals,. I, for my part, would simply like to share our projects for the celebration of the centenary of the death of Brother Charles. We hope that these projects do not deviate from the line advocated by the message of the International Team of the Priestly Fraternity: ‘Everything, by sharing with the most humble, must be a celebration in the style of Nazareth, far from any expression of triumph or grandeur’ (Courrier des Fraternités, Edition nationale, N° 221 – Janvier 2015, p. 4).
The actual celebration will practically cover the whole 2016 centennial year and will include for us two specific, complementary and inseparable, objectives: firstly, to reinvigorate existing fraternities, because they are fledgling fraternities, still fragile fraternities, searching for ways for their testimony of life; and secondly, to create awareness of Brother Charles de Foucauld now beatified, as well as of his message, his charism, to show his relevance in full daylight. It will begin on Sunday 15 November 2015, the anniversary of his beatification, and will close on Sunday 4 December 2016. For the opening celebration, each base fraternity is encouraged to arrange, with the agreement of the parish priests, a celebration of the Eucharist that they will endeavour to prepare, in the spirit and spirituality of Nazareth, as well as possible. For the closing celebration, we will organise for the priests a week’s retreat from Saturday 26 November until Sunday 4 December 2016, in the spirit of Nazareth. We propose holding in this final week the continental meeting of the African Lay fraternities in our country, so as to lend a more universal dimension to the closing Mass of Sunday 4 December. It will be celebrated in one of the capital’s parishes and it will see the presence of all the fraternities of Madagascar that can come. It will be followed by a fraternal agape which we will have the joy of sharing with the delegates of the fraternities of the other countries of our continent.
During the year 2016, we foresee having some activities from the perspective of the two objectives that we have set ourselves. For the existing fraternities, we aim to send them four sets of questions for them to address each quarter, not only to keep them awake during the centenary year, but also to help them to launch very simple local activities, activities specific to their level, without ever losing sight of their link to other fraternities. On a national level, we aim to organise a radio broadcast per month on Radio Don Bosco (RDB) which covers the whole of the country by relay with the numerous diocesan radio stations. Through these programmes we aim to raise awareness of Brother Charles’ life and the relevance of his message. We plan to record these programmes during the month of July 2015, in order to have sufficient time to copy them and distribute them by CD to the different base fraternities. Songs composed by major seminarians of ours on Brother Charles will be broadcast at the same time as the programmes and provide quality musical support, with a singing of the prayer of abandonment already widely known in our fraternities.
Our desire to make Brother Charles known does not stop there. A play about his life and the relevance of his message is at present being drafted by one of us and will be staged during the centenary year: indeed, performances constitute for the simple people amongst us, a privileged means of transmitting a message. Along the same lines, reports will be given of today’s Malagasy fraternities, in order to show, by means of their regular meetings and different commitments, how the message of Brother Charles is beginning to be gradually received on the great island.
As the majority of the Malagasy people, especially the most humble, listen, watch and admire much more readily what they read, we have decided to prioritise the audio-visual aspect of communication. However, we also are publishing some articles in newspapers or in specialist magazines, to make Brother Charles and his spirituality in intellectual circles or in certain particular strata of the Malagasy population better known.
We entrust all these projects and all these activities to one another’s prayers, so that with the grace of God and the support of Brother Charles himself, they may bear abundant fruit for the fraternities and the whole Church in Madagascar!
Have a good road to Easter!
brother felix RAJAONARIVELO