Dhaka (AsiaNews) - Thousands of Christians and Muslims fondly remember Fr Angelo Canton, a missionary with the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME), who passed away on 29 July at the age of 89 years. He lived and worked in the Asian country for 57 years, setting up schools, clinics and parishes.
"If it had not been for him, many of us would have remained illiterate," said Robert Cruze, a Catholic from Diocese of Rajshahi. "Not only did he enable us to get an education, but he also taught us how to move in the world," he told AsiaNews.
Born in 1925 in Zoppola (northeastern Italy), Fr Canton arrived in Bangladesh in 1953, two years after his ordination. At the time, the country was still part of Pakistan.
In 1971, during the war of liberation, the missionary provided shelter, food and medicine to those who fought for the nation's independence and to the needy.
"We are grateful to Fr Angelo," said Monir Hossian, a Muslim, "for what he did for our society and his support during the conflict."
Those who knew him remember him as a "devout missionary" who had the courage to "proclaim the Gospel to all, even amid difficulties."
Fr Canton worked mainly in the north of the country, in the dioceses of Dinajpur and Rajshahi, devoting himself to the religious, spiritual and moral care of local communities.
At the same time, he was committed to economic and educational development of the people in his care through co-ops, schools and technical institutes.
"He was a brave and kind man who loved everyone, regardless of faith," Cruze stressed.
"Bangladeshi society will miss him, just like we do", said a young Mintu Peris.