I invite you to take a look at family life in one of our foreign missions, namely the Malagasy Republic (Madagascar). A family is most commonly defined as consisting of parents and their children. There, marriage does not give rise to a new, distinct entity, but serves chiefly to continue the life of the broader family.I have been fortunate in having had the opportunity to speak at length on this matter with five La Salette Missionaries from Madagascar, on different occasions. It provides for a flow of life, that the life received from the ancestors will be passed on from generation to generation.
A “family,” therefore, in Madagascar is much larger than in Europe and America.
This is brought home more forcibly when we learn that the Malagasy language has no word for “aunt” or “uncle” or “cousin." Cousins are all “brothers” and “sisters,” aunts and uncles are “mothers” and “fathers.” Children belong to the whole family, or clan, not more to the parents than to anyone else.
Everyone is related, in the very real sense that all the members in this extended family are truly in intimate relationship with one another.
A child is precious to all, and grows up with a constant and profound sense of being accepted.
In a total population of 8.5 million, there is not a single orphanage!