PIME Sisters to bring the Gospel to tribal people in Mymensingh

The new community was inaugurated in the village of Dhairpara on 25 November, feast day of Christ the King. The area is home to Baptists and Catholics, all ethnic Garo. In the past, evangelisation was neglected because of the geographical distance.

Mymensingh (AsiaNews) – Bringing Christ "to a place of new evangelisation and engage in pastoral outreach for a group of Christians neglected in past years" in Bangladesh is the new challenge for the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate, who are linked to the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME).

Last Sunday, feast day of Christ the King, the congregation inaugurated a new house in the Diocese of Mymensingh, home mostly to tribal people, said Sr Annamaria Panza, provincial councillor.

"We opened a new community in Dhairpara, a village where the local clergy came on rare occasions because of the geographical distance and lack of time,” said the nun, eager but tired by the last few days.

“A great challenge awaits us: become stronger in the faith and create a sense of Christian community,” she added.

The nuns accepted the proposal of the local bishop, Mgr Ponen Paul Kubi, who called for a new Christian presence. The choice fell on a section of St John parish, which has just over 3,000 members.

The bishop set up temporary housing for the first three sisters of the congregation, who will be joined by another one in January.

"We don’t have any walls yet, but that's okay because we are not going to stay for a long time,” Sr Annamaria explained. “Within a year we’ll decide whether to settle there or go even more among the people, among those who have greater needs.”

"Baptist and Catholic Mande, i.e. ethnic Garo, live in the area,” she noted. “Most residents are children, youth and seniors since most adults work in the capital Dhaka (about 100 kilometres away).

"There were no permanent priests or religious, meanwhile there is a parish priest since last July. A few priests came on rare occasions to celebrate Mass. Unfortunately, the pastoral care of Christians has been neglected. This is why our first task will be pastoral outreach."

After starting the spiritual service for Catholics in the sub-parish, we want to stimulate interfaith dialogue with Baptists and extend our work to the farthest villages, where priests have never had time to go, where local Christians have neglected the life of faith, prayer," the missionary explained.

The sisters were convinced of the need to open a new mission by "the possibility of going to the remotest villages where no missionary had ever been in order to bring the message of Christ to a place of new evangelisation."

This is not a simple task "because groups of tribal pagans live in the area. They do not enter the church because they believe it is reserved only for the Garo (Mande). This belief is reinforced by the fact that the priests in Mymensingh are all Garo."