Two major events mark Fr. General’s agenda for the fifth day (Sunday, October 9th) of his visit to the Island of Madagascar. The first began by the solemn mass he presided in the stadium of College Saint Michel in the capital Antananarivo. The college stadium was packed with some 10 000 people composed of pupils, students, parents, lay collaborators and tens of religious people from various denominations. Fr. General was flanked with some of the superior majors of Africa and Madagascar who are gathered for the JCAM meeting that is due to take place the following days. In his homily based on the story of Naaman the Syrian and the ten lepers, Fr. General’s underscored how the lepers are emblematic of those who are excluded from society today for whatever reason. “We need to open our eyes for the leprosy of our times is the unjust social structures that cause poverty and the accelerated deterioration of the environment,” Fr. Sosa pointed out. One can but be impressed by the effervescence and enthusiasm shown by all participants during the ceremony. It is true that the weather contributed a bit to that as people were blessed with a perfect day, a bit freshy but full of sun.
The second event is the encounter of Fr. General with over 500 lay and religious collaborators which took place in the afternoon. The reports made by representants from the designated entities indicate a gradual involvement of lay collaborators in the Society of Jesus’s work in Madagascar through multiple activities geared towards the 4 Universal Apostolic Preferences. In his intervention, Fr. General pointed out how the issue of collaboration is crucial in the Jesuit way of proceeding. It is hardly a tactical move but deeply rooted in the Jesuit identity. Somehow hammering out some points he already made to lay collaborators in Fianarantsoa some days back, he pointed out how, like the five fingers of the hand, discernment, as a key element, should imbibe the four universal apostolic preferences to which we are all invited to commit. Answering to some questions, he specified how a healthy tension founded on the Jesuit spirituality can help see things: tension of being rooted in a place (or specific work) and having a universal view, tension between the concern for personal achievement and the care for the common good. Everything collapses without that vigorous balance. A group photo followed by a joyful reception cocktail-style closed this busy but rewarding day.