Fr. Michele: Christmas Letter from Bangladesh
by Michele Brambilla

Last year, Fr. Michele Brambilla was appointed regional superior. He left Kodbir parish, where he was the first pastor, and moved to Dinajpur. A difficult year, marked by terrorist attacks, nostalgia for the community he left and enthusiasm for his new mission.


Dinajpur (AsiaNews) - 2016 "has been an intense year, where evil seems to have dominated all over the world”, says Fr. Michele Brambilla, regional superior of PIME (Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions) in Bangladesh. Speaking to AsiaNews, he retraces the past year, marked by episodes of Islamist violence, but also emotion for his new assignment. Appointed superior in November 2015, he left the Kodbir parish where he was the first pastor. Now, torn between nostalgia and the knowledge that it was "time to leave the responsibility of the parish to others," he asks us to pray for Bangladesh, so that 2016 is a Christmas of peace. Below his letter to our readers.

Dearest friends,

Greetings from Bangladesh.

For the past few days it is as if I were in Italy. The frost bites and the sun appears for only two to three hours a day. People try to take advantage of these few hours to dry the rice they have just cut to sell at the market.

I am writing from the hospital St. Vincent of Dinajpur which belongs to the diocese where I work. Since the bishop asked me to be Director, I spend most of my time in this facility attempting to manage it as best I can. It's a nice, clean place, where the staff tries to help the sick, with all of the necessary care and attention. There is so much more that we would like to do to help our patients, but our economic resources are limited and cannot cover all of the needs that arise. Our busiest department is the maternity ward. There is no timetable, and most or our staff are concentrated there.

I am gradually taking my leave of the parish. From next January one of the two fathers of PIME in the parish will be named pastor in my place. I will continue to go to Kodbir for a year to follow the credit union and progress on the kitchen and the refectory of the training center. Even if reluctantly, I feel it is time to hand over the responsibility of the parish to others. Both prospective candidates are very good and are working well together. I believe that the appointment of one of the two as parish priest will spoil the harmony that has been created between them. I ask you to continue to support this young parish with your help and your prayers.

Over the year I have had to leave aside this pastoral work to devote myself to my new role as hospital director and superior of the PIME community in Bangladesh. I must say that I miss the work among the people a lot and when I can I try to go to the parish for some priestly ministry. During Advent, I am also going into the St. Joseph parish in Mohespur where a young PIME priest has been appointed  parish priest. I try to help him and this community as much as I can to prepare to celebrate Christmas.

It's been a busy year where evil seems to have dominated all over the world. Even Bangladesh has been hard hit and the tragedy of last July 1, where several foreigners including many Italians were killed, was the most obvious sign of this evil. Since then the situation appears to be improving. We are always escorted by police during our movements, but there are no other reports of individual or collective attacks. We hope that peace will return soon, which is the wish that I make for each of you for this Christmas. May it be a Christmas of peace.

To all of you ... my warmest embrace.