Ankarana Miraihina, Madagascar. On November 9, 2023, Fr. Mathew Vattamattam, CMF, General Superior of the Claretian Missionaries, and Sr. Priscilla Latela, RMI, General Superior of the Claretian Sisters, embarked on a two-day journey to the joint Madagascar mission of the Claretian Family in Ankarana Miraihina under the Diocese of Farafangana[LG1] . Along the way, during their journey, they received assistance from an Italian consecrated member of the Religious of the Assumption in Ambohimahasoa, and on their way back to Rome, they stayed with the Congrégation des Sœurs Oblates de Saint-François. They met with the Bishop, Msgr. Gaetano Di Pierro, S.C.I., upon their arrival and before departing for Rome. They stayed in the area for four days. During their stay, they dialogued with the six missionaries assigned to the joint Claretian Family mission in the peripheries of Ankarana and the people they serve.
The Madagascar Mission is a synodal collaborative effort of the Claretian Family to promote communion, mission, and participation. The mission has several projects in mind, and currently, they are providing pastoral care to a parish that was previously run by the Congregation of the Missions (Vincentians/Lazarists). The missionaries are working hard to understand the reality of the people they serve so that they can provide better assistance. Together, they are looking forward to a brighter future despite the challenges they face. To address these challenges, they have planned several programs, including faith formation in the parish’s twelve active chapels, health, education, integral development of the people, and access to clean water. The missionaries (3 sisters and 3 priests) are passionate about their mission [LG1] and consider it an excellent opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives. It’s a new way of living together in a synodal community, learning to put it into practice.
Madagascar is considered one of the poorest countries in the world, unaffected by ongoing conflicts or political violence. A staggering 75% of its approximately 29 million people live in poverty. The country’s susceptibility to changing weather patterns and frequent natural disasters often exacerbates this condition. Despite the challenges, Madagascar has a strong Christian faith that provides the Claretian Family with opportunities to support the poorest and encourage vocation. Father Mathew observed that the people have distinct cultural elements, primarily influenced by Asia, particularly similar to Indonesian culture, which sets them apart from continental Africa.
Ankarana Miraihina [LG1] is a town and commune in Madagascar. It belongs to the district of Farafangana, which is a part of the Atsimo-Atsinanana Region. The population of the commune was estimated to be approximately 9,000 in 2001 commune census. The Claretian Family joint project in this area started in May 2022.
The two General Superiors left Ankarana on November 16, 2023, and arrived in Rome on November 19.