10/24/2017, 16.12
BANGLADESH
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Fr Marino Rigon, a Xaverian 'friend of Bengalis', has died

by Sumon Corraya

Fr Marino, 92, spent 60 years in Bangladesh as a missionary. During the 1971 Liberation War he gave shelter to injured fighters. He was famous for translating the works of Nobel Prize winner Rabindranath Tagore.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) – Bangladesh mourns Fr Marino Rigon, the Xaverian missionary who was a "great friend of Bengalis".

The clergyman passed away last Friday (20 October) in Italy; he was 92, 60 of which spent in Bangladesh as a missionary.

Fr Pietanza Domenico Mimmo, a confrere and head of the Dialogue and Ecumenism Centre in Khulna diocese, spoke to AsiaNews about him.

“Fr Marino was a Xaverian pioneer in this country,” Fr Pietanza said. “He came in 1953, just a year after the arrival of the first Brothers. He made a tremendous contribution to the Catholic Church of Bangladesh."

Fr Marino was born in Villaverla, Vicenza (Italy) in 1925. In 1953, he settled in the village of Haldibunia, under the diocesan administration of Khulna.

In the past he had expressed a desire to be buried in Bangladesh, the country where he chose to live, a decision that “is up to our regional superior,” according to Fr Pietanza.

The Italian-born missionary "preached the Gospel among Catholics using the local language, Fr Pietanza noted. “He was a great writer and translator and for this reason he received many literary recognitions when he was alive."

Fr Marino was a great expert on the Bangladeshi poet Rabindranath 1913Tagore, Nobel Prize for Literature, and translated 40 of his works in Italian.

In 1971, during the liberation war of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) from West Pakistan, the Xaverian clergyman gave shelter to wounded fighters, which won him “the heart of the population".

In 60 years of mission, he played a key role in fighting poverty, expanding education, offering medical services, and helping poor women. Thousands of women still benefit from the assistance programme he helped set up.

In 2009, the government granted his Bangladeshi citizenship, a privilege reserved to few foreigners.

In 2012 Fr Marino was one of 61 non-Bangladeshi recognised by the government for their outstanding contribution to the birth of the nation.

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