On Holy Thursday, the Church in Bangladesh also celebrates the day of priests with the faithful paying tribute to them. Father Emanuel Gomes is the first priest from Bangladesh to join the Third Secular Order. He lives a happy life serving the “people of God”. But priests can only live their mission to the full with prayers and support of the laity.
Dinajpur (AsiaNews) – In churches around the world, including in Bangladesh, Holy Thursday is the day dedicated to the priesthood, a day in which the faithful pay tribute their priests with floral gifts during Mass.
Father Emanuel Gomes, a member of the Third Regular Order of St Francis of Assisi, spoke to AsiaNews about his experiences as a priest
“Today, as a Catholic priest, I am very happy,” he said. “On this day, Jesus established the Holy Eucharist. For this reason, it is considered the day of priests.” And “As a priest I offer the Eucharist with joy and I can serve Jesus Christ and the people of God.”
Fr Gomes is 77 years old and lives at the seminary in North Gobindopur, Dinajpur, in the northern part of the country.
He was the first friar from Bangladesh to become a priest in his order and was also the first priest from the Mariabad Borni parish in Natore, the community where he was born.
His ordination took place on 14 November 1972 in India and his family will soon celebrate the golden jubilee of his priesthood. For almost 50 years, he enjoyed a priestly life, a joyful journey accompanied by Jesus' blessing and love.
As a priest, “I have always liked religious life,” he explains. “Through my ministry I can transform the faithful, taking spiritual care of them. I have received so much love and respect from the faithful and this gives me so much joy and satisfaction”.
Speaking about the way he discovered his vocation, Fr Gomes said: “I was studying at St. Phillip School in Dinajpur in the 1960s. I saw the life of the priests and nuns closely. Their holy lifestyle and behaviour touched me. Later I felt like I too should be a priest.”
After meeting Franciscan friars, he entered the seminary in India; at that time, the congregation was not present in Bangladesh (then called East Pakistan). He made his first vows in India in 1965. He returned to Bangladesh in 1976 and began serving and preaching.
Bangladesh currently has eight Franciscan friars who are priests, a deacon and five seminarians. At present, the friars of the Third Regular Order operate in northern Bangladesh and Dhaka, explained Fr Gomes, a pioneer of the order in the country.
On this day of priests, he also noted the responsibility that the laity have towards their priests. “Today the laity should pray for their spiritual mentors. Priests work for lay people. Without their support and prayers, priests cannot carry out their mission properly. The faithful must also fulfil their mission by living as Christians and bearing witness to Jesus.”