Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Gabriel Randrianantenaina bishop of the diocese of Tsiroanomadidy in the region of Bongolava. Four years ago, Mgr Gustavo Bombin Espino, former bishop of this diocese, was appointed bishop of Maintirano so the diocese in question did not have a bishop. The episcopal ordination took place on Sunday July 11, 2021 at the Public High School of the city Tsiroanomandidy.

The reception of the new bishop with his escorts was made three times by the Christians and the inhabitants of Tsiroanomandidy, in a solemn manner, on Saturday July 10, 2021. The first entry was on the Sakay river, a river that separates the regions from Itasy to that of Bongolava, and portal to enter the diocese of Tsiroanomandidy. The second reception was a speech by the Head of the Bongolava region (General ...), in the city center of Ankadinondry Sakay, followed by dance and traditional musical instruments. And the reception ended with the cries of joy of the young people and the people, accompanied by speeches related by various officials and leaders of the church, held at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Good Remedy in Tsiroanomandidy.

The Sunday of consecration was preceded by a vigil of prayer. Beginning with the prayer of Vespers, followed by the sharing by Bishop Gabriel on the stages of his response to the vocation. This moment of sharing was alternated with songs prepared by different groups such as: members of the bishop's families, Christians from the dioceses of Moramanga and Ambatondrazaka from where he came and worked, the large Salesian family who practice spirituality of Saint Francis de Sales, to which the bishop is a member, and his collaborators in the episcopate. The prayer vigil continued until the morning and the various choirs belonging to the diocese animated this moment.

At the end of his presentation, Bishop Gabriel explained the coat of arms he had chosen to sum up his life and his challenges:

The cross symbolizes Christ whom the bishop follows; the Eucharist is the center of the life of Christians and of the bishop; the dove, signifies the illumination of the Holy Spirit, who helps to discern the will of God. The image of the Virgin Mary and of Jesus the Good Shepherd represent the two models par excellence for the accomplishment of the will of God. The world map represents the field of the mission and there is an image of an ox which represents the region of Bongolava. The fish and the rice symbolize the region of Alaotra Mangoro, region of origin of the bishop. And the inscription: "Non mea voluntas sed tua" which means "not my will but yours".

Mgr Philippe Ranaivomanana, bishop of the diocese of Antsirabe, consecrated the distinctive attributes used by the bishop and explained their meaning: The "Miter" or the pointed hat placed on the bishop's head in the form of a book open, is a symbol of the Old and New Testaments or the Word of God which should fill the head of the bishop, with the tradition of the church that he is to pass on. The cross or stick attached to the end of a stick symbolizes Jesus Christ, in whom the bishop trusts and on whom he leans; the cross expresses what he should say as a pastor representing Jesus the Good Shepherd. The cap or the little round cap placed on the bishop's head - anointed with oil - reveals the Holy Spirit. The pastoral ring placed in the right ring finger signifies the authority and dignity of the diocese in the hands of the bishop, so that when Christians kiss the ring, they honor the diocese. The ring is also a symbol of the bond between the bishop and the Christians of the diocese. The ring also functions as a seal.

Three bishops consecrated the new bishop on Sunday July 11, 2021 with as first consecrator Cardinal Mgr Désiré Tsarahazana, archbishop of Toamasina and president of the Episcopal Conference of Madagascar, assisted by Mgr Paolo Rocco Gualtieri, Apostolic Nuncio, representative of the Holy Father the Pope in Madagascar, and Mgr Gustavo Bombin Espino, bishop of Maintirano that Mgr Gabriel succeeds Tsiroanomandidy.

In his speech, Mgr Fabien, vice-president of the Congregation of Bishops of Madagascar and bishop of the diocese of Morondava, underlined that the appointment of Monsignor Gabriel coincides with the announcement of the Blessed Virgin Mary to become Mother of God. And just like the joy announced by the angel Gabriel at the birth of Jesus, the diocese was delighted to have a new bishop. He claimed Bishop Gabriel is part of Pope Francis' generation, which means he should be a shepherd going out in search of the needy and marginalized. He is also part of a bishop of the Covid-19 generation, so must stand in solidarity with his suffering people.

The celebration ended with a series of speeches given by, first of all, the representative of the diocese and his family, then by Bishop Paolo Rocco Gualtieri who congratulated Bishop Gabriel as shepherd of the diocese. Finally the new bishop thanked the faithful, then he particularly thanked Monsigneur Paolo Rocco Gualtieri, Apostolic Nuncio, the first reliable guide throughout his responsibility, he also thanked Cardinal Désiré Tsarahazana, who directed the Holy Mass and who was for him a spiritual accompanist in his previous office as Coordinating Secretary of the Conference of Bishops of Madagascar, he finally thanked Bishop Odon Marie Arsène Razanakolona, ​​Archbishop of Antananarivo, who carried the homily and explained the responsibilities and challenges that await the bishop.

The hope of having found a confident father has been traced on the faces of every devotee.


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