Fr Cyprien is a member of the Society of Jesus. He is a graduate of the Université Catholique d’Afrique Centrale and entered the Jesuits in 1984. He holds degrees in Theology, Philosophy and Social Anthropology.
He has served as parish priest in the Madagascan capital, Antananarivo, and in rural area of Belamoty in the Southwest of the country.
He has also served as a university chaplain and in youth ministry. He is currently the Director of the Arrupe Centre Madagascar, a social and environmental centre.
The theme for this year’s Season of Creation is ‘Let Justice and Peace Flow’. The prophet Amos uses the powerful imagery of a river, saying, ‘Let justice and peace flow like water and uprightness like a never-failing stream’.
True peace is rooted in true justice, which in turn reflects God’s will. In our context here in Madagascar these qualities are seen in the relationship between humans and the environment.
Justice not only pertains to the relationship between human beings, but between humans and nature. Creatures live as they are created. However, free will, means that humans are able to adopt a contrary path and turn away from God. Our selfishness, our sin causes us to ignore God’s plan. This can manifest itself in our relationship with God, our fellow human beings, and with the created world.
In the Spiritual Exercises St Ignatius says, ‘Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his soul. And the other things on the face of the earth are created for man and that they may help him in prosecuting the end for which he is created.’
This dynamic reminds us of the need to behave with creatures in an evangelical way. However, in order to embrace this approach, we first have to turn away from a traditional anthropocentric view which sees us as dominating creation, to the view held by St Francis of Assisi and spoken of in Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudato Si’, namely a view that sees all humans and the created world as integral to God’s creation.
Pope Francis says, ‘Everything is related, and we human beings are united as brothers and sisters on a wonderful pilgrimage, woven together by the love God has for each of his creatures and which also unites us in fond affection with brother sun, sister moon, brother river and mother earth.’[iii] This understanding leads us to build friendship with nature, to do justice, and to establish peace.
Centre Arrupe Madagascar is animated by a faith that does justice. Its vision is to create a fairer society, a more viable world and a more liveable environment. This has resulted in a concrete approach through our partnership with Jesuit Missions which has led to the creation of Life and Environmental Education (LIFEE) which focuses on youth formation and research on how to care for our common home.
Our programme looks to young people and provides environmental and leadership skills education. More than 300 young people have participated in the programme. Activities include:
- Conferences which look at how we are called to ecological conversion
- Workshops looking at alternatives to charcoal for cooking
- Strategies for green entrepreneurship
- Training of young environmental leaders
- Creation of the mini-series documentary Together, let’s create a better world
- Scientific research on how private companies can contributes to the fight against climate change
Our work exists within the framework Jesuit Universal Apostolic Preferences
- Showing the Way to God
- Walking with the Excluded
- Journeying with Youth
- Caring for our Common Home
Our Team at the Centre Arrupe seeks to create a future where we work together to restore the environment and create a world where justice and peace flow.
A prayer on Creation, from Pope Francis
All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe
and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love,
that we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live
as brothers and sisters, harming no one.
O God of the poor,
help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this Earth,
so precious in your eyes.
Bring healing to our lives,
that we may protect the world and not prey on it,
that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.
Touch the hearts of those who look only for gain
at the expense of the poor and the Earth.
Teach us to discover the worth of each thing,
to be filled with awe and contemplation,
to recognize that we are profoundly united
with every creature as we journey towards your infinite light.
We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle
for justice, love and peace. Amen