The archdiocese of Antsiranana in the extreme north of the island of Madagascar has an area of 37,924 km2 - larger than Belgium and almost the size of Switzerland. Yet with just 1.6 million inhabitants, it is relatively thinly populated. A little over 40% of the population is Catholic, and the 65 diocesan priests and 42 religious priests in the archdiocese have to care for parishes that are in many cases as large as dioceses would be in other parts of the world.
Therefore one of the most important priorities is the training of future priests. Currently, there are no fewer than 69 young men currently preparing for the priesthood in the diocesan seminary of Antsiranana.
(Some of the major seminarains studying at the diocesan seminary of Antsiranana © Aid to the Church in Need)
In this seminary the greatest care is taken to ensure that these future priests are given a thorough and sound formation. Not only is their training intellectually solid but they are also formed spiritually and humanly in character in such a way as to become true shepherds to the Catholic faithful. Everything they learn at the university must be “nourishment for their spiritual life”, as the rector explains. The seminarians must first and foremost be men of prayer, praying the Rosary privately or together in groups, devoting themselves to spiritual reading and to half an hour of silent prayer before Holy Mass. Another vital point is the formation of conscience. They must also cultivate a sense of discipline and duty and a strong sense of responsibility and respect for shared property. In order to strengthen them in this spirit they are given individual responsibility for specific small duties within the seminary. They must also be psychologically well-balanced and emotionally mature.
These young men are being intensively accompanied, intellectually, spiritually and humanly, along their path to the priesthood. The Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need is supporting their formation this year with a grant of $19,000.
The vital work of Catholic charities like Aid to the Church In Need provide a lifeline to the Church wherever she is poor, persecuted or threatened. Please help our work by donating online or send your donation to Aid to the Church in Need, PO Box 7246 Baulkham Hills NSW 2153. Ph: (02) 9679-1929