Dhaka: Waiting for Pope Francis, Catholics recall John Paul II’s visit
The Polish pontiff went to the capital of Bangladesh on November 19, 1986, and ordained 19 priests. Some of them recall the moment of consecration, embrace, and touch of his hands. "He preached a society free from violence."
Dhaka (AsiaNews) - In expectation of Pope Francis, who will arrive in Dhaka on November 30, Catholics recall John Paul II, the first - and so far – only pontiff to bring Christ's message to Bangladesh. The Saint visited Dhaka on November 19, 1986. On that occasion, he ordained 19 priests. AsiaNews spoke with one of them, Fr. Xavier Purification, now incardinated in the Archdiocese of the capital. He remembers: "I am the first priest of the Nagori parish. I was thrilled when Pope John Paul II ordained me and then he embraced me. "
The priest continues: "I was so happy when John Paul II was declared a Saint! At that moment my thought was: 'I was ordained by a saint!' The Polish Pope’s arrival in Bangladesh has blessed this country. " Father Xavier believes that Catholics will be encouraged by the visit of Pope Francis. He also hopes that even the Argentinean Pope will be raised to the altar of Saints "after his death, for his outstanding service to the Church and the people in need in the world."
Fr. Boniface Murmu, of the diocese of Dinajpur, was also ordained by Pope John Paul II. "I cannot forget - the moment - when the pontiff put his hands on me. With his touch I felt immense joy and peace in my heart. " According to Fr. Boniface, "the Pope's speeches impacted not only Christians but also Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists. He was a Pope for all people. Many in Bangladesh keep his teachings in the heart. " "I think Pope Francis, too, has touched the hearts of people of different faith. I like his teachings. His life is really simple and he does what he says. "
Noel Gomes recalls "when I touched and kissed the hand of Pope John Paul II. It was so soft, and his smile was like that of a child. He preached a society free from violence, encouraged people to build a harmonious society. "
Fr. Bulbul Augustine Rebeiro, director of the Christian Communication Center, reports that "31 years ago when he landed at the airport, John Paul II kissed the soil of Bangladesh. That gesture won the hearts of people. He preached peace and encouraged forgiveness. He made the Catholic Church of Bangladesh more mature ". Fr. Bulbul hopes that the same will happen with the imminent pastoral journey of Pope Francis.