12/09/2015, 00.00
BANGLADESH
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Dinajpur celebrates Sister Gaetanina, 50 years in the service of the Bengali Church

by Sumon Corraya
The religious belongs to of Catechist Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Queen of Angels founded in 1951 by then Bishop Joseph Obert, PIME. For 16 years, she led the sisters, pushing for more education and a greater role in society. In a male-dominated society, she managed to hold fast to her vocation and boost the contribution of women to the Church and the country.

Dinajpur (AsiaNews) – After 50 years of consecrated life, "I especially feel so much happiness. I was a very simple girl, but Jesus chose me to serve in His kingdom and that fills me with joy. I always prayed to Christ before the challenges of my life, and He has always answered,” Sister Gaetanina Corraya told AsiaNews.

The 73-year-old nun belongs to the Catechist Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Queen of Angels (CIC), a religious congregation founded in 1951 by then bishop, Mgr Joseph Obert, of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME).

Today the CIC has 167 sisters in Bangladesh, the second largest religious group in the country, and Sister Gaetanina led them as superior general four times.

"Those 16 years were demanding,” she remembers. “My first thought was to provide the sisters the best education. Now most are graduates. Our times are very competitive and it is crucial to count on adequate means.”

As superior, she had the joy of inaugurating seven convents. "I believe women religious choose this life to serve others. But I also think that it is necessary to provide them with decent housing and the ability to have access to food. The same goes for remuneration.

“I think it should be a little more dignified, whether the sisters are called to serve the Church or the country’s religious fathers. Because at present it is impossible to live without economic support."

Sister Gaetanina’s vocation was sparked by a teacher in her elementary school, Peter Peries, who "encouraged us to listen to God’s call. Even my parents supported me on in this journey.”

“Still, our male-dominated society brings many challenges. I thank God that despite everything I was able to hold fast to my vocation and boost the contribution of women to the local Church and civil society."

Sadly, these challenges have led to a decline in vocations. "The Bengali community is not as strong in faith as before, and that worries me. Fortunately, the tribal community still provides a lot of support. I think the first engine of change should be the family – reciting the Rosary, and teaching catechism to children is the parents’ duty."

After her long journey, Sister Gaetanina is first of all happy. "I was a very simple girl, but Jesus chose me to serve in His kingdom and this has filled me with joy. I always prayed to Christ before the challenges of my life, and He has always answered."

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