Mgr Howlader is the new Archbishop of Chittagong (Chattogram)
by Sumon Corraya

Appointed in February, he had to postpone his installation due to the pandemic. He served as auxiliary bishop of Chittagong from 2009 to 2016, and later as bishop of Barisal. Speaking to his community, the new archbishop said, “we should focus on Jesus Christ and preaching the Gospel. Because Jesus solves our problems.”

Dhaka (AsiaNews) – Mgr Lawrence Subrato Howlader, a member of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, is the new Archbishop of Chittagong (Chattogram).

Archbishop Bejoy N'D Cruze of Dhaka presided over the ceremony held last Saturday while the new archbishop led the Eucharist.

Pope Francis appointed Archbishop Howlader on 19 February; he was scheduled to be installed on 9 April, but the pandemic delayed the event until it could be held in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary in Chattogram.

The service took place in the presence of a limited number of bishops, priests and faithful, while most Catholics followed the celebration live on Facebook.

Archbishop Howlader was born in Nobogram, Diocese of Barisal, on 11 September 1965.

Ordained priest in 1994, he served as Auxiliary Bishop of Chittagong (Chattogram) from 2009 to 2016, when he was appointed Bishop of Barisal. He also chaired the Episcopal Commission for Youth, Clergy and Religious.

In his homily, the new archbishop said: “Problems will exist in our lives and in the Church, but we should focus on Jesus Christ and preaching the Gospel. Because Jesus solves our problems.”

“In our life, preaching the Gospel is our main responsibility. The word of God can form and prepare the mind of human beings. All kinds of problems can be solved by the Bible. We can realise God's plan by holding it.”

Archbishop Howlader urged the faithful and religious to “emphasise preaching the Gospel in our diocese and become witnesses of Christ”.

He also mentioned the religious and lay leaders who contributed to the life of this archdiocese, starting with his predecessor Archbishop Moses M Costa, also a member of the Holy Cross, who passed away from a stroke on 13 July 2020, at the age of 70.

During the ceremony, the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop George Kocherry, called on Catholics, priests, men and women religious to help the new archbishop. Acknowledging their hard and active work, the nuncio added that through “their collaboration and participation, this archdiocese will reach new goals.”

Addressing Archbishop Howlader directly, he told him “to be the best shepherd. Through your inspiration, your faithful will be the best witnesses of Jesus Christ.”

Catholics number 29,760 in the Archdiocese of Chittagong with 11 parishes, 4 mission centres, 15 sub-centres, and 262 villages and districts. It has 23 priests, 13 religious brothers, 69 nuns and 177 catechists, with 27 seminarians training for the priesthood.

The first Catholics arrived in Chattogram in 1518. The diocese was founded in 1927 and elevated to Archdiocese status in 2017.