Madagascar - Diocesan synod at Fianarantsoa

From the 5th to the 11th of September 2016, in the Diocese of Fianarantsoa, a Diocesan Synod took place following preparation by all the Christians since 2013. he theme was: ‘‘a family that lives its faith well is the base of education’’ The aim of the synod was, among others, ‘to journey together towards a communion of faith.’

This Synod began with a solemn opening mass, celebrated by the Archbishop of Fianarantsoa, accompanied by many priests who work in the Diocese but also with the participation of religious and laypeople from all the districts. The participants, numbering more than 600, represented various movements, services etc. I was invited to participate as representative of the women religious of our parish. 
 
The themes to be discussed were: The family, education, development, globalisation, management and the pastoral ministry. 
 
We worked in a very agreeable atmosphere, with good participation on the part of each person there – all could express themselves, with full freedom. The laypeople were able to state their desire to see the life of the priests renewed, to be more consistent, as well as their wish to work together so that the decisions would not be taken only by the priests. All this took place in a spirit of listening and dialogue, with great respect. 
 
What interested me was the possibility of listening to the people and their desire for a change in the Church which they wish to see more ‘in the field’, and closer to the people. They expressed their desire that the priests would go out to meet people, visit the families. There was discussion about finding a new way to proclaim the gospel. 
 
There was also the desire to go further in knowledge of the Bible and the life of the Church. 
As a LSA, I felt that our charism entered well into the project of the Church, a Church that seeks to give priority to the poor and to find the means to help them emerge from poverty. Knowing that, as a LSA, I am already living what the Church is seeking to live: ‘‘to go into the field’’, gives me the strength to continue to live the mission, invites me to go further. I no longer feel alone because I feel that the Church is ‘‘waking up’’ in the sense of going towards the people, of finding the means that help to promote the development of the families and the young people.
What was new for me was to see the Church that was opening to other religions, that seeks to be closer and to work together without exclusion, with others, with all those who are working with respect for humanity.
 
With regard to justice and peace, it was reaffirmed that the Church is called and sent to participate in the complete development of the person, and to help the person to emerge from every type of poverty: human, intellectual, spiritual; to struggle against non-respect of life, insecurity, corruption. In all these fields, the Church must assume its responsibility.
 
Concerning the theme of management, there was discussion about the need for transparency in management, as much for the priests and religious as for the laity. That links up with our efforts to be self-financing as LSA in Madagascar. It is not possible to remain in the spirit of receiving all (providence) but we must seek on the basis of our own potentialities. 
 
I feel that the most important thing for us is to continue what we are doing while being open to updating our charism. I feel confirmed in our mission with the families. 
This synod is a call work at all that builds the family in this new evangelisation, a call to be a witness so as to announce the Good News, a call that is for all the baptised. 
Personally, I am happy to have been present at this Synod; I have had the good fortune to hear the cries and the desires of the Christians with regard to the life of the Church, family life, social life and the consecrated life. 
 
Sister Charline, Ampopoka Community 
19/01/2017
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