In Bangladesh Catholic families foster priesthood vocation
In Bangladesh, in 2020 26 deacons were ordinated as priests. It is the highest number in the history of the country. The important role of Catholic families in order to share Christian faith and values
In Bangladesh, in one year 26 deacons were ordinated as priests. It is the highest number in the history of the country. In Holy Spirit Major Seminary, country’s only national seminary, the Rector Fr Patrick Simon Gomes shared reason why a height number of priesthood ordination happened. He told Fides News Agency that in 15 years a large number of boys entered in the Seminaries. Out of 26 priest, 18 are diocesan, 6 are Holy Cross, one is Jesuits and one is PIME. “It is the highest number of priesthood ordination in the history in the country,” where the tiny Catholic community has 500,000 Catholic people in the 165 million Muslim majority country.
However, Fr Gomes mentioned that, if in one year a height number priesthood ordination took place, this doesn’t means that religious vocation has increased. He explained, “In a certain time much number of boys entered in seminary and we got its fruits. The height number priests ordination makes us happy, by an individual years number doesn’t says that religious vocation has increased.”
He informed that once from Atharogram and Vhawal region of Dhaka, they obtained much religious vocation, now they are getting religious vocation from tribal areas.” He also informed that from instead of Dhaka diocese they are getting religious vocation from Rajshahi, Mymensingh and Dinajpur, diocese where live tribal Christians and most of them are new believers. Some boys from needy family join Seminaries, but he doesn’t seem it is negatively. Many needy families don’t send their children in Seminary. In future, from tribal priest, national seminary might get first rector as number of tribal priests has been increasing, Fr Gomes said. He recalled, once missionaries from USA and Europe came in this country, now local priests are going abroad as missionary.
It seems boys in Bangladesh join seminaries, because of faith lived within their family. He clarified: “For those boys who are in seminary, I surely can say that family played a keyrole. They obtained formation from family first. I listen testimony from seminarians and they said that their families provided them Christian faith and values teachings. To increase priesthood vocation this approach is very important.”
“Till 15 years ago, families were joint and large. Now family size became small. For living cost, parents don’t want take more than two children. IF this is the trend, how will they allow their children to leave for God’s Kingdom?”
It also seems boys get inspiration to be priest during childhood from family members, relatives, school or college from teachers. According to Fr Gomes, they say that when they expressed the wish to be a priest to thier schoolteachers, they took care and encouraged them. "Some adult people support religious life because these religious people spiritually take care of other faithful and other people. They are genrally considered positive people in the soceity, as they dedicate and offer theri life to others” Fr Gomes noted.
He mentioned responsibility of this modern era’s parents. “Parents should take more than two children, and to be open to offer their beloved children for the other Church,” he said.
Fr Gomes also mentioned that a priest is a blessing of God for the whole family. He revealed important of "joint family": “Grandma or grandpa are grant teacher. They not only give values and religious teaching, but also give teaching about life. Their life’s wisdom, experiences are like jewel,” Fr Gomes shared his experiences living with her Grandma, who was a pious woman and never missed rosary and mass each day. He informed in Bangladesh, nowadays, sister in law’s want how they can be separated fast from their mother in law. It should be changed. A joint family enriches children.
He informed that at present a total of 137 learners, including two nuns, are studying his seminary about theology. Catholic Chruch in Bangladesh runs one national, seven intermediate and eight minor seminaries.
In order to take care of priesthood and religious vocations, beside priests and nuns, lay people also should be actively involves. According to Fr. Gomes, lay people also should be included in pastolar teams that foster religious vocations. These teams should take care of children and teens who desire to enter in religious life. Hence, lay people can take responsibility to raise fund for the seminary and formation house where seminarians and students live. He proposed: “Lay people could give a great contribution by supporting one of two seminarian’s yearly accommodation cost.”
Newly ordinated priests shared about their religious vocation and said how they could confirm their religious vocation.
Fr. Biswajit Bernard Bormon who was ordained last December 2020 told that in his childhood, before seeing Fr. Dominic Sentu Rozario, he thought there was no Christian in Bangladesh because he didn’t see any Christian. He said, “When I saw Fr Dominic’s good and kind work, his sacrifice and holy life, it attracted me. So I entered in the Seminary in order to be a priest. Gradually I could realized taste and beauty of priesthood life. This is how I became a priest”. His family was a hindu Famialy. He received baptism in 2002 from Hinduism while he studied in a missionary boarding in Gazipur. On December 4, 2020, his parents received baptism by Fr Bormon from Hinduism.
Fr. Bormon also said: “God choosed me from womb of my mother to be a priest.”
Fr. Lanard Rozario who is from Tumilia parish of Dhaka Archdiocese said that, while the desider was born in his heart, his parents and relatives encouraged him to be a priest. He said: “Their encouragement helped me to enter in a seminary and I became a priest and I am very happy. My life’s desire has been fulfilled.”
Fr. Richard Babu Halder who is from Barisal diocese of Narikelbari parish, said about his vocation: “I had desire from my childhood to be a priest and I now I am in final stage to reach in my destination. In my life, my mom and grandmother encouraged me a lot. I observed a local priest named Father Sylvester’s holy life and it also inspired me to be a priest". He says he want to spend his life as servant of Jesus Christ. “I will work for all people to take care of their spiritual life” he says.
Another new priest, Fr. Anil Ignatius Marandy from in Rajshahi diocese says that beside pastoral work in parish, he want to hel serving, in the name of Christ, prisoners, garment workers and children. “I will preach to non-Christians and I will work to increase religious vocation,” he also said.
Hence, some Bangladeshi priests and nuns are working abroad as missionary and in future a growing number of them will go to work abroad. In last centruries, this country’s Catholic Church got service by different international missionary groups like PIME, Xaverian, Holy Cross priests and nuns. Now their numbers are few and number of local priests and nuns are majority.
Christians’ existence in this country is like "salt and light" of holy Bible by their witness. Some noted missionary school, college and university service are very popular. In this situation, Catholic priests light society as beacon and a pillars of the society.