Dinajpur (AsiaNews) – For Fr Michele Brambilla, PIME* regional superior in Bangladesh, the past year has been spent, as always, between the needs of the community of missionaries and the care of the sick. However, 2017 was also marked by an exceptional event, Pope Francis’s visit to Dhaka, during which he brought the message of the universal Church to one of the "peripheries" of the Christian world.
The clergyman, who lives in Dinajpur, runs the St Vincent Hospital, the local diocesan medical facility where "I realise more and more of how, in addition to medical treatment, patients want people who are close to them, who make them feel at home."
On 2 December, he met the pope in the Holy Rosary church in Tejgaon, during the gathering reserved for the country’s consecrated Catholics. For him, the pontiff "came to this land of mission to confirm us in the faith." His Christmas letter follows:
as Holy Christmas approaches I decided to write to you to say a few things about myself. As you know, I have two major tasks in Bangladesh: I run the diocesan hospital and head the community of PIME missionaries.
In the hospital several people serve with me in various capacities, doing most of the work with the sick. I realise more and more of how, in addition to medical treatment, patients want people who are close to them, who make them feel at home.
I believe that our hospital, even though it is an institution, has a family touch that has become rooted over time, ever since Father Bonolo began to welcome some ill people and unaccompanied children in 1957 alone.
Perhaps even he would never have thought that it could become a hospital recognised by the government that continues to treat everyone, especially the poorest.
The very diverse PIME community experienced a special period during the visit of our Superior General who travelled to all the places where PIME missionaries are present and listened to each of them.
At the end of his visit, a three-day regional assembly was organised during which we shared pleasant and friendly moments.
However, the event that most touched each of us was the pope's visit. Once again, the Holy Father did what he preaches. He reached out to one of the peripheries of the Church, a land of mission, to confirm us in the faith.
I think that many of you saw the images on TV and I will not got into the details of what happened. For my part and that of many others, we are grateful to the pope for meeting us in the church of Tejgaon, Dhaka, and for his words and encouragement to continue our missionary work.
To each of you I send my best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
A big hug to everyone.
* Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions