Khulna (AsiaNews) - "He taught us how to explain the catechism to children and parishioners with expertise. To be simple, pious and honest people, like him. He understood our needs and our sorrows: he loved our country and our people so much". Speaking to AsiaNews Lucas Halder, catechist of the parish Baniachor (diocese of Khulna), remembers Fr. Pio Mattevi, Xaverian missionary in Bangladesh for 48 years. The Italian priest died on February 21. On 12 March, more than 700 Catholics, including a bishop and 23 priests, commemorated his memory with a special Mass in the Cathedral of Khulna.
Born in Italy in 1938, Fr. Mattevi belonged to the Pious Society of St. Francis Xavier for Foreign Missions (Xaverian Missionaries). For most of his life, the priest lived in the diocese of Khulna, where he devoted himself to teaching catechism to priests, nuns, catechists and youth. Here was also director of the National Social Catechetical Training Center (Nsct). Today, the diocese can count on 52 catechists.
During his homily, Msgr. Romen Boiragi, bishop of Khulna, said: "Fr. Pio was the longest serving Xaverian missionary in our diocese. We will remember him forever for his sincere pastoral work and for his teachings. He carried out each task with great commitment and was a great missionary. " After the war of liberation from Pakistan in 1971, said the prelate, "he also worked for the refugees, helping them to gain housing and minimum necessary for their survival."
Fr. Joseph Noren, a local priest, says: "Father Pio worked in the parish, school, training center, in the hospital and in the bishopric. But he will remain in our hearts for his love for Bangladesh and for the Church. He was a responsible person who carried out all his tasks with loving kindness. "
"During the Liberation - Richard explains Arup Halder, a layman - his contribution was very much appreciated. I was a freedom fighter and I saw how much he did thanks to his pastoral zeal and his apostolic work. May the Good Lord give him eternal rest. "
Limon Biswas, another faithful of the diocese, remembers him as "a great missionary. We should all follow his example in our lives. I pray for his soul." "He has done so much for our people - says Lili Gomes - he will remain in our hearts. We will miss him."