An ethnic Orao, the Salesian nun hails from the Diocese of Mymensingh and has always served economic migrants in the big cities. She organises catechism lessons for workers' children, talks to employers to let their workers to attend Sunday Mass, and visits the most remote hill areas.
Chattogram (AsiaNews) – Sister Zita Rema is a Salesian nun originally from the Diocese of Mymensingh, northern Bangladesh. She has always worked in large cities to bring the Christian message to internal migrants. After years in Dhaka, she moved to Chattogram, in the south of the country. She spoke to AsiaNews about her missionary experience ahead of the Extraordinary Missionary Month of October 2019.
"I really enjoy my missionary work, to help transform our people,” she said. This includes “those who moved away from the Church. I work as a bridge for them.”
As the Extraordinary Missionary Month draws near, she feels “an even greater responsibility to respond to Pope Francis' call to do mission work. Although I am already doing it, this month will help me realise myself as a missionary and teach people to do the same.”
Sr Zita belongs to the Congregation of the Salesian Sisters of Mary Immaculate and is an ethnic Orao. She dedicated her whole life to the care for migrants. Currently, she is involved in teaching the children of Christian workers who emigrate in search of a better life in the Chattogram[*] port area.
"I conduct catechism lessons for migrant workers’ children and distribute free catechesis booklets,” she said. “I observed positive change among Catholic children and adult migrants. This gives joy to my religious life.”
The biggest problem for her is that “many of them cannot go to church on Sunday since it is a working day”. Hence, “they are disconnected from the Church and don’t get spiritual care,” she laments.
So many Christians work in factories, NGOs, beauty parlours or as medical representatives and she visits them. She also talks to employers so that workers can get time off to attend Mass. This is not an easy task.
“Sometimes, I reach remote area by bus, three hours standing,” she noted. At least once a month, she travels to the remoter villages in the Hill Tracks area on the border with Myanmar. Here, “the cost of preaching is high”. It takes more than a day of travel. “I need a week minimum to complete the visit, crossing hills, rivers and forests”.
In some remote areas, children do not speak Bangla, but she teaches about Jesus Christ through songs.
“Missionaries need Catholics to spread Church values and teachings.” For this reason, “we also invite children and young people to enter religious life.” Some come to her convent, see how the nuns live, how they pray, how they rehearse songs for hours, and become inspired.
Unfortunately, abductions by gangs occur in the area. “We feel fear, but confident in God, we continue our work,” she said.
[*] Formerly known as Chittagong.