Many countries are saving up to send a group of young people who will be able to tell their experience afterwards

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Madrid, December 10, 2010 – Madagascar’s youth are counting down the days left until they will travel to Madrid for World Youth Day. What once seemed an impossible dream, going to a World Youth Day, has become reality. Today, the country is making heroic efforts to send two representatives of each diocese, who will be able to tell of their experience upon their return. They will come to Europe to offer their spiritual wealth and will return to their island nation spreading the joy and hope of their experience. WYDs prove that, despite their being among the world’s developing countries, there’s something that places them on par with the rest: faith in Christ.

Madagascar has never “officially missed” a WYD. But, it was following WYD in Paris in 1997, when the Catholic Church in Madagascar and its young people truly discovered the greatness of this event. Upon their return to the island, they launched what is now known as the WYD-MADA, a national gathering led by young people who have attended the most recently held World Youth Day. You could say that WYD-MADA was a success from day one. In 2006, 6,000 young people attended and in 2009, the figure rose to 10,000! These events have obviously had a great influence on Christians in this country.

2 Un momento de las celebraciones de las JMJ-MADA

According to Cocken Razafiarison, President of the island’s Catholic Youth Group, participation in WYD has a dual mission. First, the Christian faith is reinforced: “Thanks to WYD, many discover the richness of our faith and the universality of the Church, in which social, economic, and political differences are by no means an obstacle or hindrance to perceiving our unity in Christ.” WYDs also give young people a more dynamic spirit, contributing to the improvement of youth ministry. “We have met young people who are proud to be both Malagasy and Catholics. Not only have they learned that the Church and society have something to tell them, but they have also seen that they have something to tell society!”

WYDs have an influence in many ways: Pierrot Razafindratandra and Françoise Reliny and met at World Youth Day in Sydney. Each came from different parts of the country. A beautiful friendship blossomed and they were eventually married this past August!

Los jóvenes tienen actividades deportivas, dan catequesis, asisten a retiros…Getting to Work!
There are still several months left until WYD in Madrid, but it’s time to get down to work. The Malagasy youth are preparing for the meeting with the Pope by reflecting on his Message, through retreats and prayers. Young Christians are taking on a very active role in social assistance. For example, they are working in the awareness and fight against poverty, helping the elderly, fighting AIDS, organizing vaccination campaigns… In addition to all this preparation for WYD, they will also hold sporting events at their parishes, in their districts and dioceses, and even on a national level. The cultural entertainment activities are also popular, for example, music, singing, and dancing.

Like the Early Christians

We could say that the Church in Madagascar is in its early stages. The first Christians to land on the beaches of this island were Protestants and did not arrive until 1817. The king, opposed to any foreign influence, soon threw them off the island. After the Protestants, came Catholics, who were also expelled. It was then that lay Malagasy natives, who did not renounce their faith, took the initiative of founding churches, giving catechism classes, helping the needy… and in the end, there were Christians everywhere. Their number doubled! Today, the Church of Madagascar is now in its fourth generation. Hopefully, the upcoming WYD in Madrid will give additional momentum to the Church in this country!

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