Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres
The love of Christ impels us to manifest His tenderness and love.
In 1953, the Assumptionist Fathers arrived in Tulear and sought a Religious Congregation to continue the work begun by the Vincentian Fathers and Daughters of Charity. And so they invited the Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres, who, true to their origins responded positively because " ... ... they shall never forget that their community has been established only to do what other more important Communities in the Church cannot undertake by way of instructing the children and caring for the sick - they are only to glean after those Communities, so to speak. " (Draft of a Rule, Chapter I)
On February 28, 1955, after a meeting with Father Provincial, Mother Marie-Paul BORD, SPC Assistant General, flew from Orly to Tulear where Father Michel Canonne, Superior of the Assumptionist Fathers waited for her. He wanted her to see the vast track of over 250 km of land burned by the sun, dotted with thorny trees, giant cactuses, tamarind trees and interspersed with huts inhabited by some 250,000 Malgash in extreme poverty.
From Tulear the Sisters went to the South: Betioky, Ampanihy, then further north Androka Ankililoaka. There is no water in these areas. The water beds of major rivers are dry for nine months, and people suffer from famine periodically. Finally, the Sisters went beyond the diocese which is 500 kilometers away from the East Coast, the forest region of Ifanadiana and Mananjary.
Then vocations started to germinate… Young Malgash came each year to see the Paulinian Family. The sisters saw the need to accommodate them so:
•a house for the young Malgash was opened on January 25, 1961
•a Canonical Novitiate was built on October 7, 1960
The Malgash people are largely animists and very attached to their ancestral customs. These cause a big hindrance to their development. They also have this fear that they are surrounded by hostile forces against which they are powerless. That's why they resort to sorcery and witchcraft to find out who cast an evil spell to them if they get sick, or who was the evil spirit that set fire to their homes, destroyed their crops, etc...? Alienated by the weight of these beliefs there is a need for them to know the Savior who can liberate them, the God their Creator who is not far from them and their everyday life.
Twenty five per cent of Madagascar's population is Catholic. There are few Protestants, but there are many cults emerging. Catholics are mostly found in the Central Highland regions. The Malgash have been evangelized since the early 19th century, however in the South there are only 5% to 7% baptized Christians.
Heal, educate, fight against premature death and learning to live more humanely, are the tasks of the Sisters, who later spread out across the region because of the need to put up primary and secondary schools; set up child care and education of mothers in the bush and in the clinics, and the care of patients in hospital and in care centers. Patients with leprosy and tuberculosis are very numerous and so they are housed in six centers and three centers for Specialized Care respectively.
The Province of Madagascar has 17 communities of Sisters of St. Paul performing various apostolic activities and 3 formation centers for the Aspirants, Novices, and Juniors.
The Sisters established:
* 11 primary schools
* 3 high schools
* 6 mobile teams of women promotions and catechesis in the bush
* 1 Centre for the Disabled
* 1 Centre for catechetical formation
* 6 clinics
There are also 3 sisters working at the Public Hospital of Tulear
* Catechesis is provided by the Sisters in the city and in the bush as well as the spiritual animation for the young people’s movement.
* The Friends of St. Paul, is a group of Christians gathered together as an association, in communion with the congregation's charism and spirituality. They engaged themselves in the mission of the Church through our congregation . More and more, they are happy to grow in the spirituality being shared to them by the Sisters and become a part in their apostolate.
The Sisters of St Paul from the time of their arrival in Madagascar adapted a way of living close to the people. Each local community has its own microprojects such as: plantations, animal husbandry, craft industries, and sale of harvests to support themselves.
Through their self-sacrificing work in the apostolate, by their love for the least and the poor and by their entire life, the Sisters of Saint Paul reveal Jesus Christ and awakens in others the desire to know him.
In 1972, the Daughters of Charity arrived in Tulear in Southern Madagascar. There, they established a school, a workroom and a dispensary, and also worked in the public hospital in the region. Forced to withdraw to the south east of the island with the Vincentians Fathers, they hoped and waited that another congregation would come to take their place.
Sr. Marie Noël Lapel, SPC with her patients