AFRICA/MADAGASCAR - Appointment of the Rector of the "Saint Paul Apotre" Philosophical Seminary in Antsirabé

Vatican City - On 1 March 2019 Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, appointed Rev. Jean Nicolas Rakotojaona, of the Archdiocesan clergy of Antananarivo as Rector of the Saint Paul Apotre interdiocesan major philosophical seminary in the diocese of Antsirabé, Madagascar.
The new Rector was born on 18 January 1973 in Anosy Avaratra and was ordained a priest on 3 August 2002 in Faliarivo Ambanidia. He went to the minor and preparatory Seminary of Ambohipo, then studied philosophy at the "Saint Paul Apotre" major Seminary in Antsirabé and theology at the Sainte Thérèse de l'Enfant Jésus major Seminary in Faliarivo. He continued his studies at the Catholic University of Madagascar and at the University of Friborg, obtaining a degree in Philosophy and a doctorate in theology. Since his ordination he was engaged in parish ministry, professor in various training courses for lay people. Since 2017 he was Vice-Rector of the "Saint Paul Apotre" Seminary of which he was appointed Rector.
ASIA/PAKISTAN - The celebrations for the 800th anniversary of the encounter between St. Francis and the Sultan comes to an end: a peace commitment in Pakistan

Lahore - With a joint reading of passages from the Holy Bible and the Koran, the closing ceremony of the celebrations commemorating the 800 years since the conversation between St. Francis of Assisi and Sultan Al was held in recent days in Lahore-Kamil, which took place in 1219: the eighth centenary of that historic meeting had wide echo in Pakistan throughout 2019. The closing of the special Jubilee was celebrated in Lahore, in the presence of numerous Christian and Muslim leaders.
As Fides learns, among those present, Archbishop Christophe Zakhia El-Kassis, Apostolic Nuncio in Pakistan, stressed that "the encounter of St. Francis of Assisi with the Sultan occurred in an atmosphere of fear and danger, but that fear turned into dialogue which led to peace and friendship". "We can learn to promote peace and coexistence from Saint Francis of Assisi and the Sultan", he added, promising "support for the promotion of peace, harmony, tolerance in society".
Beside him, Mgr. Sebastian Francis Shaw, Archbishop of Lahore and President of the National Commission for Interreligious Dialogue and Ecumenism, within the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Pakistan, agreed stating that "it is necessary to accept each other in society as Saint Francis of Assisi and Sultan Al-Kamil did, to promote peaceful coexistence".
Among the civil authorities, Ijaz Alam Augustine, Provincial Minister for Human Rights and Minorities and Minister of Interreligious Dialogue in Punjab, said he "appreciated the significant ceremony" by noting that "the government promotes tolerance and harmony in society and intends to continue developing a policy of inter-religious peace and harmony in order to promote the spirit of coexistence in society".
Numerous Muslim and Hindu religious leaders attended this ceremony, ensuring their commitment "to support the cause of humanity for a prosperous and harmonious society in Pakistan, bearing in mind the peace initiative experienced centuries ago by St. Francis of Assisi and of the Sultan".
In the assembly there were students from different schools who presented a theatrical performance inspired by the prayer of peace of Saint Francis of Assisi and the Pakistani song "Is percham k saye talay eik hain - We are one thing". The youth of the Capuchin Franciscan student residence in Lahore presented a dramatization of the encounter of Saint Francis of Assisi and the Sultan. The ceremony ended with a solemn commitment by all those present to be "instruments and peacemakers in Pakistan".
AFRICA/NIGERIA - "We are under siege" says the Archbishop of Kaduna where 4 seminarians were kidnapped

Abuja - "No other Country will tolerate this type of insecurity without calling for mass protests. Definitely our country is under siege", said His Exc. Mgr. Matthew Man-oso Ndagoso, Archbishop of Kaduna, Nigeria, the archdiocese where on the evening of January 8 four seminarians were kidnapped in the" Good Shepherd" Major Seminary of Kakau along the Kaduna-Abuja highway .
"This is the third time kidnapping is happening directly to our diocese", said the Archbishop. "I can't sleep at the thought of the conditions that the four students are experiencing," added Archbishop Ndagoso.
"People can no longer sleep with two eyes closed, yet our leaders have the courage to say that there is security in the Country", said Archbishop Ndagoso, who adds that the population seems to be resigned to growing insecurity. "I think people now seem to have given up on the security situation because there is nothing they can do, they just resigned to fate".
The Archbishop wonders why security cannot be restored in the area because "with the technologically developed security gadgets in the 21st century, there is nowhere in the world, even underwater that criminals cannot be traced or tracked". "But security agencies keep on saying that they are on top of the situation".
After saying that "security measures were strengthened in the seminary" in order to protect other students", Archbishop Ndagoso concludes saying that "we will continue to pray for the kidnapped seminarians, until they are freed. We keep hoping that God will expose those behind the insecurity in this Country".
OCEANIA/PAPUA NEW GUINEA - Jubilee of the beatification of Peter ToRot, an example for everyone

Kavieng - "The defense of the sacrament of marriage as a way of conjugal holiness was the main motivation that led to the beatification of Peter ToRot", said Mgr. Rochus Tatamai MSC, bishop of Kavieng - Lorengau and president of the Episcopal Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, on the occasion of the celebration of the silver Jubilee of the Blessed and martyr, raised to the glory of the altars 25 years ago, lay and first blessed of Papua New Guinea.
In his homily, the Bishop spoke at length about the life and martyrdom of Peter ToRot, pointing out to all the faithful as an "example of Christian life" to follow. From his story, the Bishop drew useful ideas for catechists, talking about the sacrament of marriage and family life, and focusing on the relationship between faith and culture.
The Jubilee Mass was a moment of great devotion and participation of the faithful: the choir and a group of young women led the offertory procession with a traditional dance and melody of the Duke of York Islands, in the province of eastern New Britain . Participants also included a large group of faithful from the parishes of the archdiocese of Port Moresby and members of various religious congregations. The main Jubilee celebrations took place in the village of Rakunai on Friday 17 January 2020, and were coordinated by the "Blessed Peter ToRot Foundation Inc", a lay organization founded in 1996 to promote the life and work of the Blessed and to support the archbishop of Rabaul in the cause of canonization.
The presence and message of the Blessed also crossed the borders of Papua New Guinea and arrived in Australia: on January 19, Cardinal Ribat blessed a chapel dedicated to Peter ToRot in the Shrine of Our Lady help of Christians in the Marian Valley, in Brisbane.
Blessed Peter ToRot, catechist in the village of Rakunai on the Gazelle peninsula, eastern province of New Britain, was killed by the Japanese in 1945, towards the end of the Second World War, for refusing to stop his catechist and witness of the faith activities. In particular, ToRot defended the sanctity of marriage, thus challenging the practice of polygamy, authorized by the Japanese. Pope John Paul II officially declared him a martyr on January 17, 1995 during the beatification ceremony in Port Moresby.
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