07/03/2018, 11.13
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PIME Superior: the missionary challenge among young people and workers in Bangladesh

by Anna Chiara Filice

Michele Brambilla arrived in the Asian country in 2007. The two most important tasks for the local Church are "the question of the workers and pastoral work in parishes". About 70 million young people are "a huge potential".

Rome (AsiaNews) - In Bangladesh young people "are a huge potential" and the workers, the driving force of the country, represent "the greatest challenge for the local Church" says Fr. Michele Brambilla, regional superior of the PIME (Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions), who is currently taking part in formation courses for the superiors of the institute.

He has found time to talk to AsiaNews about the challenges posed to the Catholic Church in Bangladesh and the responses from the missionaries. In particular, he identifies two key categories: young people and workers. Among them, he says, "missionaries work immersed in reality, following the principles of the Gospel".

Fr. Brambilla, 46, has been in Bangladesh since 2007. He has worked in the tribal villages of the north of the country and today is involved in the management of the diocesan hospital in Dinajpur, St. Vincent Hospital. "I am here - he reports - because the Lord wanted it that way. This was what he chose for me. I do nothing but say 'yes' every day ".

The aspirations of the workers, pastoral care in the factories

The PIME regional superior explains: "Work is the main concern of every family. This is why the work carried out by the Girani center on the outskirts of Dhaka is of fundamental importance. The capital has now become the largest industrial centre in the country. The hostel run by Fr. Gian Paolo Gualzetti hosts young workers, mostly tribal Catholics, who we also follow them from the spiritual point of view. For example, Mass is celebrated every day ".

In addition to hospitality, he continues, "we take care of the health needs of these young workers, such as the treatment of diseases related to working conditions. We have started a collaboration with Caritas through a nursery service available to all mothers in the area. Here there are two educators who care for the children during in the factory working hours. Finally we do prenuptial courses for those couples who cannot return to the parishes of the tribal villages ". Missionaries care about the well-being of the person in all its aspects. "We get information about the factories - he adds - we make sure that they respect safety standards, guarantee the right hours of rest and pay adequately for the work done".

Young people, a potential to be expressed

A separate discussion is reserved for young people, to whom the next Synod of Bishops is dedicated. "The most striking thing about them, regardless of economic conditions, is their joy. It shines from their eyes and is part of the character of this people. Young people represent a huge potential for this country: there are about 70 million, almost 45% of the population [the total population is about 170 million, ed]. Their greatest hope is to find a good job: to achieve this goal they study a lot and are willing to move abroad, because there is no work for everyone. Then maybe they come back after a few years and bring with them life experiences that enrich everyone ".

In addition to the employment aspect, "a movement of 'committed' young people is emerging, gathering, organizing events, wanting to share time and life together. I think it's a positive trend, to be encouraged ".

"Apart from these positive examples - he continues - the dangers of drugs, alcoholism and fundamentalism can occur".

For this reason the task of the priests, he concludes, is "being close to them, accompanying them in their choices, making sure that they do not consider us as 'superiors', but on their own level guiding them in life. We must be there next to them, as a point of reference, ready to welcome them in their difficulties and uncertainties. The priest as a pastor must have clear principles of Christian doctrine, but also adapt to the needs of the person ".

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