04/06/2010, 00.00
BANGLADESH
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Catholic worker centre open to Protestants and Muslims

by William Gomes
The Jesus Worker Centre was set up in 1995 in an industrial district about 100 kilometres from the capital through the initiative of PIME missionaries. Hundreds of faithful meet there to pray and share their experiences. The centre’s long-term plans include serving as “ecumenical place”, with a church, a school, a medical dispensary and a technical centre.
Dhaka (AsiaNews) – More than 300 Bangladeshi Christians observed Good Friday at the Jesus Worker Centre, which is located inside the Jirani Export processing zone (EPZ), in Savar Upazile (district), about 100 kilometres from Dhaka. Young Christian workers from different dioceses, including those of Dinajpur, Mymensingh, Chittagong and Rajshahi, meet at the centre to pray and share their experiences.

Edward Hazda, a young Catholic worker from Dinajpur, told AsiaNews that he moved to Dhaka for a better life, but found himself “isolated among Muslims,” feeling “helpless”. However, the presence of missionaries from the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) and the centre’s activities helped him realise that he was “not alone”.

The priests celebrate Mass every Friday, the Muslim day of rest according to the Muslim calendar.

Paulus Marandi, who works for the Atomic Energy Commission, said that he is preparing his “three-month-old daughter’s baptism”, a step made possible by the centre, because he cannot “go to the parish in the capital after working hard all day.”

Father Dominic, a diocesan priest, created the Jesus Worker Centre with the help of Fr Carlo Dotti, a PIME missionary, said Ft Luca Galimberti, himself a PIME missionary from Como (Italy).

Both Frs Dominic and Carlo decided to dedicate some of their time to EPZ workers. Since its inception, the local Catholic community has grown. “This past Christmas, more than 600 people came together for the various functions.”

Now Catholic workers meet for open-air prayers because the centre’s headquarters cannot fit them all.

“We are working on building a church but need about 150,000 taka (US$ 2,300) for the first floor. So far we have raised about half that amount,” Fr Luca said.

The final plans for the centre include a school, which would be open to Muslim children. The centre itself would operate as an “ecumenical place” for Catholics, Protestants and Muslims, based on love, sharing and mutual respect.

A medical dispensary would also be built beside the school, and a technical centre is planned to help people learn about new technologies and get a job.

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