The 12th of October is a unique holiday in Marana. It is a liturgical commemoration of Father Jan Beyzym, who has been serving the lepers on Madagascar for more than 13 years. He served the poorest of the poor, the outcasts, people deprived of the human dignity and marginalized. It was Father who built the leprosarium more that a hundred years ago. The hospital still functions and helps all, who suffer from the horrible illness.
UNEXPECTED CROWDS OF BELIEVERS
Since the time of Father’s beatification in 2002, every year on the 12th of October in Marana there is celebration of memory of a great, noble Pole with boundless heart, the man, who let people experience the love of Christ. This year was no exclusion. It is worth to be added that Marana has never seen such a big amount of pilgrims before. There were more than 4 thousand people coming for the celebration. Who and where were those people from?
YOUTH EUCHARISTIC COMMUNITY
The Youth Eucharistic Community (Fitambanana Eokaristia Tanora) is very active on Madagascar. It includes secondary school and university students. In Fianarantsoa, where Marana belongs, this movement is very strong. Such communities exist in every parish of the missionary district. (There are 36 districts in the diocese). There is a chaplain responsible for the movement in every diocese and every parish has a responsible priest too. The general leadership of the Fitambanana Eokaristia Tanora activities is done by the Jesuit Fathers.
Fitambanana Eokaristia Tanora on Madagascar is very large. More than 4 thousand girls and boys in Fianarantsoa belong to the community. This year we will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the community establishment in Fianarantsoa. The diocesan Eucharistic Congress was held on 10th – 14th of October for the occasion of the anniversary. Because of the fact that on the 12th of October we celebrate the liturgical memory of Father Jan Beyzym, the Congress organizers decided that the Congress participants should take part in Marana celebration. And so it was.
St Francis Xavier School and the Jesuit Community in Fianarantsoa were responsible for the festivity preparation. The invitations were sent in advance to parishes, religious houses and schools. More than 4 thousand people applied for participation. Pilgrims went to Marana on foot. As true pilgrims they came to Marana with songs and prayers. Some of them had to go 8, or even 10 kilometers.
CELEBRATION IN MARANA
Marana is too small to accommodate such a huge amount of people. We managed, though. The Holy Mass was celebrated in the courtyard of the Sisters of St Joseph of Cluny by the field altar. It lasted more than 2 hours. The Mass was celebrated by Father Otto Andrianarisoa, responsible for all the Communities in Madagascar. Together with Father Fala Soloniandry, who is responsible for the diocesan Communities, 10 priests from different parishes and Marana chaplain took part in the Holy Mass celebration. Sister Sabine, the Head of the leprosarium, talked about Father Beyzym and his deeds. The Homily was preached by Father Guillaume Rakotonandratoniarivo, St Francis Xavier School in Fianarantsoa Headmaster. He talked about the tasks and goals of the Youth Eucharistic Community. He also referred to Father Jan Beyzym and four apostolic preferences of the Society of Jesus set for the next 10 years by the Father General.
It was boiling hot (about 30ºC). But it did not distract young people, who were concentrated on the Mass. There was a lot of prayer, singing and liturgical dances. Young people vowed to participate in the Eucharist every day and pray in the intentions of the Holy Church and Holy Father.
VISITING FATHER BEYZYM
After the Holy Mass the pilgrims visited the chapel, where the sarcophagus with Father Beyzym’s mortal remains is kept. They prayed by the sarcophagus in different intentions asking Father’s intercession with God. A lot of the pilgrims left their pleas in written form. Then the pilgrims visited the local museum of Marana Creator. It was the first time that some people heard about the outstanding missioner and were fascinated by his life and work among the lepers.
In the afternoon, at 4 p.m., young people and Marana inhabitants prayed the Rosary together. They have a tradition in Marana to pray Rosary at that time every day. They pray in different intentions. Their prayers are thanksgiving as well, as they thank all the benefactors of Marana.
The pilgrimage to Marana was a unique experience for the young people. It will be long remembered. The participants will definitely share their experience of “meeting” Father Jan Beyzym with their families and friends. It is delightful as the memory of Polish Samaritan will last. And that also gives the hope that Father Beyzym will be remembered not only in Marana, where he testified of God’s merciful love with his life, but throughout the whole island.
Fr Joseph Pawlowski SJ
Chaplain, Marana leprosarium
THE PRAYER FOR THE CANONIZATION
Father of mercy and God of all comfort!
Through the agency of Your Servant Jan Beyzym
You bestowed mercy and consolation
On the most miserable of the miserable,
On the forlorn and outcast,
On the separated off the human society
With the wall of fear and scorn.
By Your mercy in him
And his intercession
Make us the instrument of Your Providence,
Kindness and consolation for all,
Who need it.
And if it is not against Your will,
Deign to include him among Your Saints,
And graciously grant us,
What we sincerely ask You for
With the desire for Your glory
And our benefit.
Through Christ, Our Lord. Amen