Thomas Rozario, a local government official, Sister Mary Lillian, of the sisters of Mary Queen of the Apostles (MRA), and two educators, Jyoti F. Gomes and Michael Botlaru, received the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice cross. Card D’Rozario noted that they served Church and nation.
Dhaka (AsiaNews) – The Vatican has bestowed a prestigious award on four Bangladeshi Catholics for their contribution to the development of the Church and of Bangladeshi society.
The four are: Thomas Rozario, a local government official (picture 3); Sister Mary Lillian, SMRA[i] (picture 2); and two educators, Jyoti F Gomes (picture 1) and Michael Botlaru.
The award is the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice cross, also known as the "Cross of Honour", the highest honour a pope can bestow on a Catholic (picture 4).
The award ceremony was held almost a month ago, at Archbishop House in Dhaka. Card Patrick D’Rozario and the papal nuncio to Bangladesh Archbishop George Kocherry were present.
Thomas Rozario, 69, has chaired a Union Parishad, a borough, for 38 years. During this time, he worked as an honest leader, committed to local development, without religious or social bias.
“Receiving this award fills me with honour,” he told AsiaNews. “It pushes me to serve the people of this country even more.”
Sister Mary Lillian, 90, has changed the lives of at least 4,000 women. She runs the Jagorani Training Centre, a showroom and training facility where rural women can showcase and sell their products, such as jute items, terracotta figurines, woven baskets, candles, rings, earrings, hand-painted squares, rugs, wooden trays, handbags, and garments.
The nun dedicated her award to all the women involved in and with the Centre, which allows them to be more self-sufficient.
Jyoti F Gomes, 67, is secretary of the Bangladesh Catholic Education Board. He teaches as well and trains others to teach.
He feels overwhelmed by the honour of receiving an award from the Pope. “I didn't work for the award. This honour will help me do my job for the Church even better””
Michael Botlaru, 76, a retired government official, helped educational institutions run by the Catholic Church meet government requirements.
“These four people did outstanding work for [Bangladeshi] society and the nation,” Card Patrick D’Rozario said. Thanks to “their work, the Church and the country benefited. For this reason, they received this award. By honouring and respecting them, we too are happy.”
[i] Sisters of Mary Queen of the Apostles.