Since March 22, Malagasy people have been living in a state of health emergency. Since then churches have been closed, during the most important and central period of Christian faith; the last week of Lent before celebrating Holy Week”, said to Agenzia Fides Fr. Martial Ramiakadaoro, National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies of Madagascar, who describes how the local Church is experiencing the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
One of the consequences of the lockdown directly involved the PMS “that had to send the texts for the animation of the World Day of Vocation Prayer to the 22 dioceses of Madagascar. Shipping was canceled because means of transport were also blocked. We used other means to send the animation texts even though we knew that some regions far from the dioceses could not be reached”, said Fr. Martial.
“In addition, in Madagascar, Sunday of the Good Shepherd is dedicated to fundraising to support the Society of St. Peter the Apostle, but this year it was not possible to carry it out because the faithful are confined”.
With regards to the special PMS fund for coronavirus victims in Madagascar, Fr. Martial says that “in our country, this initiative is difficult to carry out in this period of confinement and crisis. But the PMS national management is advertising the existence of the special fund in the various dioceses through the Bishops. This does not prevent the Malagasy faithful from being in intense communion of prayer with the Churches in the world and united in our local Churches”.
The COVID-19 pandemic, said the PMS National Director does not weaken the faith of the Malagasy. “First of all, the faithful do not question faith in God despite the pandemic. Indeed, there is a reawakening of their faith even if churches are closed. More and more faithful dedicate themselves to personal prayer in their homes, taking advantage of the Marian Month to recite the rosary with the family. This event puts them in search of the presence of God and his power”.
Finally Fr. Martial described how the Church organized itself to assist the faithful from a distance. “Each diocese is organizing itself to spread the Sunday Eucharist through the Catholic media to allow the faithful to follow it as a family. Entertainment programs are broadcast to encourage people to help and support each other, to make gestures of sharing and solidarity. For example: making face masks to be distributed free of charge to the maximum number of people. Distributions of food gifts and assistance to the poor, the elderly, and the weak. Free assistance for all those with coronavirus”.
“The Head of State consults Church leaders in the decisions to be made that affect the life and faith of peoples. Although the consequences of the pandemic influence the social and economic situation of the country, like many other countries in the world, the Church remains a source of life and a place of hope for the Malagasy people”, concludes the PMS National Director.