In Bangladesh, many women work with the Church full-time, visiting remote villages to proclaim the Gospel and prepare adults and children for baptism. “As a Santal I can speak to them in my language and reach deep into their hearts,” said a 40-year-old Santal widow. “I'd like to continue my whole life as a catechist.”
Naogaon (AsiaNews) – For catechist Maloti Hembrom, this is an intense time. Hundreds of people in Bhutahara parish in Naogaon will receive baptism at Easter and she is taking care of them.
“I'm a full-time catechist,” the 40-year-old Hembrom told AsiaNews. “My responsibility is to teach the Gospel to adults and children who want to receive Jesus Christ as their Lord. I also help priests and nuns in liturgies and prayers in remote villages.”
In Bangladesh every diocese has catechists who work with priests and nuns in providing this service. Their active contribution makes it possible to increase the number of new Christians every year. Women have a very important role in this ministry.
Currently, Maloti Hembrom is following groups of catechumens in 11 villages who will receive baptism in the future. She visits them often to teach and preach.
Hembrom is an ethnic Santal, a widowed mother of two. She studied in a hostel and was brought to Christianity by the life of a PIME missionary in Chandpukur parish.
“Since I was a child, I liked Christians,” she explained. “Later, in 2016, I was baptised and since then I decided that I would dedicate my life to proclaiming the Gospel. After me, my parents also received the baptism.”
She started out as a volunteer catechist, then in 2020 this became a full-time commitment, in the past month she spent 12 days away from home preaching and teaching the faith. Her children live in a church hostel.
The catechist loves this life. “Every day I visit new villages and I stand among tribal people who worship nature, trees, and Hindu deities. I share with them the story of Jesus and the life of Christians.
“I never openly say that others should welcome Jesus. It is they who voluntarily ask to receive baptism. I realise that to touch their hearts what counts above all is our behaviour and the Spirit who works through us.”
Maloti Hembrom reports that non-Christian tribal communities like Catholic life and prayers. She explains that being a woman has not created particular difficulties for her in this task.
“I usually visit people who do not know Jesus, but are thirsty to know. As a Santal I can speak to them in my language and reach deep into their hearts. I'd like to continue my whole life as a catechist.”
Father Swapon Martin Purification, priest of Bhutahara Parish, admires Maloti Hembrom and the other women catechists.
“From our point of view, they are very reliable,” he said. “They don't drink, they don't smoke, and they spend more time on their work than their male colleagues.”