16 January 2018
AsiaNews.it Twitter AsiaNews.it Facebook
Geographic areas

  • > Africa
  • > Central Asia
  • > Europe
  • > Middle East
  • > Nord America
  • > North Asia
  • > South Asia
  • > South East Asia
  • > South West Asia
  • > Sud America
  • > East Asia

  • » 12/07/2017, 17.37


    Mirpur’s Mary Queen of the Apostles parish an 'oasis of peace for children' (Photos)

    Anna Chiara Filice

    The church was founded in 1994 by PIME missionary Fr. Gianantonio Baio. Today the parish priest is Fr. Quirico Martinelli. There are playgrounds for children and swings. In the school of St. Theresa, 495 children study: "a concrete example of inter-religious harmony". From our correspondent on the ground.

    Dhaka (AsiaNews) - In Dhaka, in the district of Mirpur-2, there is a veritable "oasis of peace for children". It is the parish of Mary Queen of the Apostles, founded and run by the PIME missionaries (Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions). On the opposite side of the street stands the school of Saint Teresa, where 495 children, mostly Muslims, study. The two places are a concrete example of missionary witness and religious harmony, where children of different faiths study and play together, learning to love and respect each other as brothers and sisters.

    The parish was born from the work of Fr. Gianantonio Baio, then rector of the Pime House of the capital, who bought land in 1994 and gave it to the church. Instead the school was founded 10 years ago on the initiative of Fr. Gianpaolo Gualzetti. The Mirpur-2 neighborhood is a maze of dusty, semi-asphalted streets, with stalls full of spices, food and various utensils on both sides of the road.

    In the midst of all this confusion, the Catholic mission, where the hawkers shouts, the car horns and the rickshaw bells are a distant sound. AsiaNews visited Fr. Quirico Martinelli, the parish priest, who immediately showed us the small garden adjacent to the parish. Here two swings and a slide are available for children to play. All around, beyond the walls protected by barbed wire, 10-storey buildings rise up against each other. Fr. Quirico says: "In a neighborhood like this it is not common to have a garden for children. Many have suggested I sell the land. Once a gentleman told me: 'Father, why does not he sell it? You could earn a lot of money! " I replied: 'But then where would the children play?'. And he did not understand, he looked at me with a lost look, amazed at the fact that the children had the right to play ".

    Inside the church, where the classic wooden benches for the faithful are replaced by carpets and mats, it is all a work of decorations. The missionary reports: "We are preparing the altar for Advent. On the front, we placed four candles cut out of polystyrene (corresponding to the Sundays of Advent), to which we will add the flame every Sunday, to symbolize the passing time".

    On the back of the parish, a three-storey building houses a youth hostel, "which we can call aspiring PIME seminarians. In all there are 12, and they are preparing for a journey of vocation ". In addition to the hostel, the facility serves as "shelter for special sick people who come to Dhaka to treat serious disorders and undergo risky operations that are not carried out elsewhere in the country".

    The Saint Teresa school is a five-story building. Fr. Martinelli explains that "the first three are destined to the school, where children from pre-school (kindergarten) up to the eighth grade study. On the fourth floor live the nuns of the Luigine di Alba Order, who run the structure. The top floor instead is used as a hostel for working girls, who come to Dhaka in search of a job, but at the beginning do not know where to go to reside. Here they find a safe place for the initial period, then they move elsewhere ". Eva Uzinia Barman, 22, is one of them. She comes from the diocese of Dinajpur (in the north of Bangladesh) and her father is a village catechist. "One day I want to become a nun," she tells  AsiaNews. "All right, but first you have to finish your studies", replies Fr. Quirico. "I will be what God wants of me," says the young woman.

    The structure also houses a recovery and rehabilitation center for the disabled. The missionary reports that "every day 20 come from all over the city. The assistants take care of them, helping them draw, write and play. They hang some of their drawings on the notice board, on the ground floor of the building ".

    Walking around the classrooms we meet the teachers: 16 women and a man. They tell us that "today [December 3] is an important day for children, because they took the end of year exams. They are all awaiting their results ". Sr. Sonali Dofanar, the principal, reports that 495 students are enrolled in the institute, of which 315 are Muslims, 75 Hindus and the remaining Christians. The teachers add that "the classes are mixed. Males and females of various confessions study together. They are separated only during religion classes, during which everyone learns the teachings of their faith ". "Even parents respect and collaborate with educational institutions. This is a true example of inter-religious harmony ".

    As we are about to leave, some children come to meet us and kneel before the priest. Then they touch both feet and touch their hands on their heads. "In a symbolic way, they carry the dust from my shoes to their heads. For them it is a blessing ", he explains. One of the girls moves from Fr. Quirico and repeats the same gesture before the AsiaNews correspondent. "Now they believe that you will bring him luck", reports the missionary.

    Missione del Pime a Mirpur-1
    Missione del Pime a Mirpur-1

    Missione del Pime a Mirpur-2
    Missione del Pime a Mirpur-2

    Missione del Pime a Mirpur-3
    Missione del Pime a Mirpur-3

    Missione del Pime a Mirpur-4
    Missione del Pime a Mirpur-4

    Missione del Pime a Mirpur-5
    Missione del Pime a Mirpur-5

    Missione del Pime a Mirpur-6
    Missione del Pime a Mirpur-6

    Missione del Pime a Mirpur-7
    Missione del Pime a Mirpur-7

    Missione del Pime a Mirpur-8
    Missione del Pime a Mirpur-8

    Missione del Pime a Mirpur-9
    Missione del Pime a Mirpur-9

    Missione del Pime a Mirpur-10
    Missione del Pime a Mirpur-10

    Missione del Pime a Mirpur-11
    Missione del Pime a Mirpur-11

    Missione del Pime a Mirpur-12
    Missione del Pime a Mirpur-12

    e-mail this to a friend Printable version

    See also

    29/09/2010 BANGLADESH
    In Dhaka, Bangladeshi nuns treat the sick with loving smiles
    Following the example of Mother Teresa, Sister Mary Orpa of the Sisters of Mary Queen of Apostles, helps children hospitalised in Dhaka irrespective of caste or creed. For her, “If you treat a patient with a smile, loves spreads everywhere”.

    07/11/2016 13:27:00 BANGLADESH
    A nursing home in Gazipur for elderly and sick "Tumilia sisters"

    Called ‘Shanti Bhavan’ (House of Peace), it is home to ten patients. Some of them have lost their hearing; others are bedridden; all have served in hospitals, schools and parishes. “Each congregation should open a nursing home for its members, old and sick, so as to give them hope that they will be cared for”.

    27/03/2008 BANGLADESH
    Muslims and Christians to discuss letter of 138 Muslim intellectuals
    For the first time in the country 35 Christian experts and 35 Muslim experts meet to dialogue. They were moved by the letter 138 Muslim intellectuals wrote to the Pope and Christian religious authorities. The event is scheduled for 18 April in Dhaka.

    19/02/2014 THAILAND
    PIME's first 40 years in Nonthaburi devoted to mission, dialogue and social work
    Inaugurated in 1974, the church run by the missionaries of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions has had many important results, such as greater involvement of the laity and missionary work "open to universality." Much more still needs to be done in a place where Catholics are but a thousand out of 500,000.

    11/10/2013 BANGLADESH
    PIME priest: Rosaries 'for all continents ' and a new parish for Bangladesh
    In a letter Fr. Michele Brambilla speaks of the new initiatives launched this October. A parish will be erected in Kodbir , a small sub-center. Throughout the month, young Catholics will recite the rosary each week dedicated to a different continent.

    Editor's choices

    North Korea will send a high-level Olympic delegation to Pyeongchang

    After two years of tensions, the first meeting between delegations from North and South Korea. Seoul proposes that North and South athletes march side by side in the opening and closing ceremonies of the Games (February 9-25, 2018).

    Pope: respect for the rights of persons and nations essential for peace

    In his address to diplomats, Francis asks for the solution to conflicts - starting with Syria - and tensions - from Korea to Ukraine, Yemen, South Sudan and Venezuela - and augurs that migrants and the "discarded" be welcomed, like unborn children and the elderly and respect for freedom of religion and opinion, the right to work.


    AsiaNews monthly magazine (in Italian) is free.


    News feed

    Canale RSSRSS channel 


    IRAN 2016 Banner

    2003 © All rights reserved - AsiaNews C.F. e P.Iva: 00889190153 - GLACOM®