A home away from home: Father Madiela, new Seychellois citizen
Father Madiela said that at each praise and worship, an effort is made to remind the participants of Christian values and fundamental human values. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Father Pierre Madiela was among the six religious leaders granted citizenship by the Seychelles’ President last month.
Madiela, vicar of the Ste Therese Church in the district of Plaisance, is from Congo-Brazzaville in central Africa.
Aged 50, Madiela, who comes from a family of seven in a mountainous village, came to Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, in 2010.
SNA met with Madiela, who is based at the Ste Therese parish in the central district of Plaisance, to know more about his plans now that he is officially a Seychellois.
SNA: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
PM: I was born in September 1967 in a small village, called Taboulo in Bouenza, a department in the southern part of the country. My father was a mason and my mother was a housekeeper and she also kept the family garden.
I did my primary schooling in our village but for my secondary education, I had to leave my beloved village. After my diploma, I went for post-secondary education for three years. Growing up we were happy, we had good times, we had education and we prayed a lot.
SNA: When did you get the calling to become a priest?
PM: Religion was a part of my daily life and we prayed a lot. I studied psychology for a year at the University of Brazzaville. After that, a priest arranged for me to study in Libreville, Gabon and another year in South Africa. Finally, I studied theology for four years at the University of Cameroun.
I was ordained at home in front of my family and people but was very sad because my mother had passed while I was still in training. I had lost my biggest supporter. My mother was all for our education and our personal development and she was an ardent Catholic. She always said be careful of what you do, because God sees everything.
SNA: What were your first pastoral duties after your ordination?
PM: In 2003 I was posted to the Democratic Republic of Congo where I met Father Louison Emerick Bissila, who is the also in Seychelles serving as Parish priest of St. Esprit at Ile Perseverance. I also met Father Guy Inkumene, of the St. Jean Baptiste parish at Glacis and Father Landry Mukoko Maketa at the Ste Therese Parish.
After a year, I was given the post of Director responsible for training the young people who wanted to join the priesthood. In 2010 -- Father Louison proposed that we continue our mission in Seychelles. I remember how reluctant I was as at my age I did not want to move. He persisted. And I gave in and in December of that year, I landed here. I do not regret coming to these islands. My moving here was the work of the Holy Spirit.
|At Plaisance church, the parishioners were like family, but we felt that something was lacking and that is when we started the praise and worship, said Father Madiela. (Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
SNA: What was your first impression of Seychelles?
PM: The warm welcome of the Seychellois people. I felt immediately at ease here. It was as if I was home away from home. I never felt like a stranger. At Plaisance church, the parishioners were like family, but we felt that something was lacking and that is when we started to praise and worship. We started by having two per month, but now we do it every month.
SNA: What is the role of praise and worship in the life of Christians?
PM: People need to know how to pray. In fact, a lot of parishioners have asked me to show them how to pray. Each praise is done with a theme and through them, we learn about God, the church, the Bible and society. There are basic Christian values and fundamental human values which have been forgotten. At each praise and worship, we make an effort to remind the participants of these values.
SNA: We can see that more priests coming to Seychelles are from Congo Brazzaville. Is there a reason for it?
PM: We all come from the congregation of the Holy Spirit, and we are organising ourselves so that we can work in close collaboration with fellow priests in Congo. For a while, we are working with young people so that they can join the priesthood. We have three so far and they are showing promising signs.
Romeo Bonne is on attachment in Congo Brazzaville, Emmanuel Boniface in Tanzania and John Labonte who is based at the Grand Anse Praslin parish. We are not discouraged because God will send his children to serve his church.
We are raising funds to build a house right here behind the Ste Therese church to be used for young people who have completed post-secondary education and showing interest. Each year we will mentor two youths and then send them to either Africa or Europe for further studies. God willing in 10 years time, we will have new Seychellois priests in the Catholic Church.
SNA: Did you expect one day to become Seychellois?
PM: Again the Holy Spirit at work! I think President Faure was inspired by God. I never thought that I would one day become a citizen of Seychelles. I think the work we are doing here is appreciated by the population. The President has seen that what we are doing is for the betterment of the people and country. We will continue with our mission for our beloved Seychelles. I would like also to thank the President for this.
|Father Madiela told SNA that "the President has seen that what we are doing is for the betterment of the people and country." (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
SNA: Father Pierre, what is your take on superstition, something which is present in many societies?
PM: Superstition is within people of every country, it is enshrined in culture, a culture which we have inherited. People need to realise that superstition is an ancient thing. Coming from Congo I can say that I was born into superstition but when the church came, superstition disappeared. People believe in God, in his words, in justice and in what the Bible is saying. In Seychelles, people are praying more. These irrational beliefs are wrong. I know that slowly with prayers, superstition will one day become a thing of the past.
SNA: What are your plans now that you are a Seychellois citizen?
PM: Education is my target. I am going to work hard in this sector because this is the foundation for everything. The future of our country is in the education of our children.
SNA: Seychelles is being affected by social ills, how do you think this can be tackled?
PM: God will always give all of us the capacity and strength to change our country for the better. Slowly with God’s grace things will happen. What is happening here is not an isolated case -- the world faces similar issues. We will need everybody to do their bit, every day as change will take time to happen. We need to pray every day. And I am confident that we will see better days.
SNA: Finally, what is your vision for your parish, Ste Therese?
PM: In our parish, we are one big family. We do a lot for the people in our neighbourhood, we visit the sick, the elderly and have different sessions to strengthen their faith. Our parish is a strong one.
My wish is for the Seychellois families to become strong. I hope that our children get to learn at an early age the good human values and that they inculcate these in their daily ways so that they get to live these values. They also need to learn the value of praying, so that they start to pray when they are small and do it on a daily basis, attend mass and live their lives as Christians should.