Lay sisters bear witness to Christ among Muslims in Dhaka slum
by Sumon Corraya

The women belong to the Secular Institute Believers in Christ Community. The archdiocese of the capital has provided them with a home to live together. The lay sisters are active in teaching children and providing spiritual care to the sick.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) – The lay nuns of the Secular Institute Believers in Christ Community have dedicated their lives to bearing witness to the Gospel in slums and among Muslims. They teach catechism to Christian students and pray for the healing of the sick.

"Even the [consecrated] sisters appreciate our work,” said one nun, “because we tirelessly preach Christian values. Every day we renew our vows of poverty, chastity and obedience."

Fr. Frank J Quinlivan, Holy Cross missionary, established the institute of Catholic lay women who chose the Ordo virginum, i.e. the special form of consecration that allows women to continue their regular life without the obligation to wear the veil or live in a community. Recently the archdiocese of Dhaka gave them a house that can house five people. Before that, they stayed in a rented flat.

Sobita Gomes, 76, is the group coordinator and runs a school for slum children in Dhaka’s Tejgaon district. “As a child I wanted to sacrifice my life for Christ,” she said. “I wanted to be a nun, but I couldn’t make it. In the end I entered this community."

For her, “Our way of life allows us to reach many more people and win their hearts. We can go where we want, we do not have a 'dress code', we can earn money from our profession. But like consecrated sisters, we work for Christ and are ready to sacrifice our lives for him."

Like Sobita, Asha Rozario, 70, loves “this life. This way I work for Christ directly. In addition to my main profession, I teach catechism to Catholic children in the church of Tejgaon and prepare them for the sacraments of the Eucharist and confirmation."

In addition to teaching, the sisters are active in spiritual outreach for the sick. They lead the Rosary recitation in different Catholic areas of the capital and are part of the Liturgy Commission of the Archdiocese of Dhaka.

The group has very specific plans for the future. "We would like to extend the teaching of the Christian religion to Catholic students in Muslim schools,” said Sobita, “because they do not receive adequate religious education there. The parents asked us."