Madagascar: A living and flourishing novitiate

The number of novices entering the Society of Jesus worldwide varies greatly from one region to the next. In this context, the Conference of Africa and Madagascar has the highest growth rate. But within the Conference, Madagascar stands out. Seventeen novices in this single country is a clear manifestation of the dynamism of the Society. Father General visited the novitiate in Analamahitsy, near Antananarivo, the capital of the country. He was able to talk with these young Madagascans who have been called to the Society of Jesus; he also met with the formation team.


Father General prayed with the novices in the chapel of the novitiate.

Some testimonies follow. The first is from the novice master, Arthur Niry Lanto.

It is a signal grace from God for our Province to receive a fairly large number of young men into the novitiate. They come from a number of regions, which range from the north to the south of the island, in fact, from nine of the country’s twelve dioceses. They have usually had some contact with Jesuits in the parishes of the interior - “the bush”, as we call it. Quite simply, these vocations are the fruit of the testimony of Jesuits, of both those who laboured here in the past, and those who are carrying out their mission today. Some of the novices come from urban parishes, but it is rare for young people, who have passed through our schools, to enter the novitiate.

Many challenges face these young men on the road to religious life. To help them, the novitiate programme provides for ongoing accompaniment, and formation in fidelity to the spiritual life. We are aware that, since Madagascar is a country affected by poverty, entering an international religious order can be seen as a way of escaping difficult living conditions. It may therefore happen that young people come to us looking for a way to further their studies and ensure a personal future. As formators, we need to take time with each candidate, to get to know them before they enter the novitiate. This is the purpose of the probationary period we offer, and of the two year pre-novitiate period. These provide an opportunity for these young men to cultivate their motivations. For formators, it is an opportunity to discern, together with the candidates, whether the foundations of a true vocation are well grounded.

Once the novices reach the novitiate, I emphasise that our spiritual approach brings them closer to the Malagasy reality rather than distancing them from it. They really cultivate a preferential love for the poor, the sick and the afflicted.


Donald Ramiandrisoa, 2nd year novice; Michel Fanambinantsoa, 1st year novice.

Two novices also shared with us what motivates them.

I can say without hesitation that my life in the novitiate is indeed marked by the spiritual life. In fact, what has marked me most, has most touched me and transformed me, are the Spiritual Exercises. Then, there has been the experiment - the practicum - in a hospital. These two experiences allowed me to recognise who I truly am. I was also able to realise how important the sacrament of reconciliation and the place of devotions are in the spiritual life. Humbly, I think I have a predisposition to care for the sick. I believe that what I have experienced here will bless my future.

Donald is a second-year novice

I am happy to have passed my first year in the novitiate, and I consider that it has graced me. The commitment to my responsibilities in the community, and the accompaniment of the formators have really marked my life. The spiritual activities of the novitiate are shaping me to become a holy and happy religious who finds joy in following Christ. The community, as well as the apostolic and intellectual dimensions of the novitiate help me to grow in maturity so that I will be able to witness to Jesus both in my everyday life and in the mission to which I will be called in the future.

Michel is a first-year novice

The 2nd year novices give a mini show at the end of the meal with Father General.

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Posted by Communications Office - Editor in Curia Generalizia
Communications Office
The Communications Office of the General Curia publishes news of international scope on the central government of the Society of Jesus and on the commitments of the Jesuits and their partners. It also handles media relations.

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