Bishop Shorot Francis Gomes takes over a diocese created by Benedict XVI in 2011 that is home to tribal people employed in tea plantations. Interfaith dialogue, participation of the laity in Church activities, and growth of religious vocations are the new pastor’s priorities.
Sylhet (AsiaNews) – Shorot Francis Gomes, the new bishop of Sylhet, made his official entry in the presence of the apostolic nuncio, Archbishop George Kocherry.
Appointed by Pope Francis on 12 May, the new bishop was set to take office on 2 July, but the ceremony had to be postponed until today, when it could be held in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Lokhipur, because of the pandemic.
A few bishops, priests and worshippers were able to take part in the event, while most people followed it via live streaming.
Bishop Gomes, 55, succeeds Bishop Bejoy N. D'Cruze, who was appointed Archbishop of Dhaka in November.
“Preaching the gospel is our crucial responsibility as baptised,” said the new bishop in his address.
This “diocese is fertile ground for preaching the Good News. Let all the faithful preach the Good News so that we can take care of God's people and those living in utter poverty. Let us love them and heal their pain.”
Bishop Gomes cited interfaith dialogue, the participation of the laity in Church activities, and the growth of religious vocations as his pastoral priorities.
Many members of the diocesan community congratulated the new pastor. Thomas Pohdung, a local Catholic, said: "We are with him. We shall surely listen to him and follow his guidance."
Pope Benedict XVI created the Diocese of Sylhet in 2011. It has seven parishes and about 19,500 members, 98 per cent of whom belong to tribal communities employed in local tea plantations.
The area is a frontier for missionary outreach, home to many people who do not yet know the Gospel.
Mgr Gomes is the second bishop of Sylhet. A native of the parish of Hashnabad in Dhaka, he has already served as auxiliary bishop in the capital.
He currently chairs the Commission for Seminary of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Bangladesh, and is the chaplain for the Bangladesh chapter of the Marriage Encounter Worldwide movement.