Fr Dominic Monto Hasda is PIME’s first tribal priest. For the past three years he has been on mission in Papua New Guinea, in charge of the protection of minors, education, evangelisation, and teaching the Christian faith, especially to young people.
Dhaka (AsiaNews) – Fr Dominic Monto Hasda, missionary with the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) “found Jesus” in Papua New Guinea. A nurse by training, he was ordained priest in 2015.
Sent to Papua three years ago, he serves at a local school, in the parish and in a hospital. "When I serve others,” he explained, “I get twice as much back, both in terms of love and respect. I am very happy to be a missionary.”
Fr Dominic is currently in Dhaka on a break, but will go back to his mission on 2 May. He is PIME’s first priest from a tribal background in Bangladesh.
He is the chaplain at the St Miriam Secondary School and assistant parish priest in the parish in Watuluma. He is responsible for the protection of minors, education, evangelisation, and teaching Christian values, especially to young people.
Speaking of young people, he says: "When I arrived on the island, I did not expect to see so many men and women living together outside of marriage. Sexual promiscuity is very high and the sacrament of marriage is not widespread among young people. I am trying to change this and some have understood that it (being unmarried) is not a good practice."
Integrating into his new country, he admits, was not easy. "There are 800 ethnic groups, each with its own language and culture, even if English is used by everyone. People lead a very simple life, but prices are very high. This is why so many struggle to make ends meet.”
The land frightened him at the beginning. "Papua is an island and I can't swim. I am afraid of water. I was also intimidated by the jungle, but then when I arrived it felt like I was in Heaven! Mountains, clean water, trees everywhere: I was fascinated.”
Although the country is predominantly Christian, "there are not many religious vocations. In society, 'payback' is a common practice, whereby parents raise their children and then expect them to be paid back in terms of assistance and money. This prevents many young people from entering the seminary until they have repaid the debt. This tradition is a real obstacle."
The lack of vocations means few priests are serving local Catholics. "In my area there are 4,000 Catholics, but besides me there is only one other priest, also a missionary."
With regard to the missionary vocation, " Bangladesh has many vocations,” Fr Dominic notes, “but usually parents do not think of their children as missionaries. This is wrong. We too can be one and relatives should encourage us."