11/19/2013, 00.00
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Church celebrates Bangladesh's newest parish in Kodbir

by Michele Brambilla
Apostolic Nuncio Kocherry George, Bishop Sebastian Tudu and PIME Regional Superior Fr Franco Cagnasso take part in the ceremony. Tribal Santhals, who are the largest local ethnic group, experience great joy and cheer. Bishop calls on the faithful to pray for vocations.

Kodbir (AsiaNews) - Tribal Dances, songs, washing of the feet and a solemn Mass marked the establishment of a parish church in Kodbir sub-centre. Fr Michele Brambilla, a missionary with the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME), spoke to AsiaNews about the excitement and the joy of the local population, who are predominantly ethnic Santhals. Bishop George Kocherry, the new Apostolic Nuncio to Bangladesh, led the liturgy, inviting the faithful to "pray for vocations" and "not hinder when the lord calls." Here is Fr Brambilla's letter.

Dear friends,

The long-awaited day has arrived. As of Saturday, 16 November 2013, the sub-centre of Kodbir has become a parish in its own right. I shall not hide you my joy and that of the whole Christian community for this event. Archbishop George Kocherry, Apostolic Nuncio to Bangladesh, was our guest of honour.

The parish priest, other priests, nuns and faithful from the parish of Dhanjuri to which the sub-centre belonged welcomed him as well as our Bishop Sebastian Tudu and PIME Bangladesh Superior Fr Franco Cagnasso. They accompanied their guests for part of the way and then handed over the sub-centre to the bishop, as a sign that their task had been accomplished and that the community of Kodbir could now walk on its own feet.

Guests were escorted to the stage amid tribal dances in a welcoming ceremony inspired by Santhal traditions, which included the washing of the feet and a flower garland as a gift.

At the end of the observance we has a first surprise. The nuncio took the floor to speak and at the end of his address he gave the with community a pair of gifts - a chalice and a paten to celebrate the Holy Mass from the Holy Father himself who knows about the new parish.

After the ceremony I was preparing to celebrate the Eucharist when a second surprise came. The bishop told me that he and the nuncio would consecrate the existing church in Kodbir.

We hastily got things together and started the Mass, which the nuncio led, assisted by the bishop and concelebrated by about 40 priests, including some local clergymen, some from PIME and a number of Xaverian Fathers.

Holy Cross and TOR Brothers, as well as a good number of PIME sisters, Korean missionary nuns and many believers were also present.

During the homily, the nuncio mentioned Saint Paul's journey of conversion, his faith and the evangelisation work he carried out. He also stressed the importance of the family and its fundamental role in society. He ended by calling for prayers in favour of vocations, especially in our diocese. He equally urged parents not to hinder their sons if the Lord calls on them.

After the homily, Diocesan Chancellor Fr Marcus Murmu read the decree that establishes the parish, which takes the name of the Conversion of St Paul the Apostle, and appoints myself as its pastor. This was followed by the church's consecration and the blessing of the statue of Saint Paul at the entrance of the building.

The celebration ended with all the faithful receiving a little picture of Saint Paul to mark this historic day. This was followed by lunch with rice, pork, chicken and lentils.

Afterwards, young people from different villages entertained those present for about two hours with dancing and singing.

This day shall remain as a beautiful memory that will accompany us in our missionary journey.

All of us are aware of the new task that awaits us in building together a community founded on unity, peace and love of God.

A hug to everyone

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