03/22/2022, 15.18
BANGLADESH
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Shanti Rani Sisters to promote the cause of beatification of Bishop Obert

by Sumon Corraya

The initiative was announced in Dinajpur on the 50th anniversary of the death of the PIME missionary who was the bishop of the local diocese. He also founded a local order of nuns soon after the country’s split from India. A nun who remained unconscious for 31 days due to COVID-19 was healed after the Sisters prayed for their founder’s intercession.

Dinajpur (AsiaNews) – The Catechist Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Queen of Angels, known in Bangladesh as the Shanti Rani Sisters, have announced their intention of promoting the cause of beatification of their founder, Fr Giuseppe Obert on the 50th anniversary of his death. A PIME missionary, served as bishop of Dinajpur from 1949 to 1968.

"We will take the initiative for the canonisation process soon," said Sister Beena S. Rozario, superior general of the order. “We think Bishop Obert is a saint. We should pray through him” for his intercession, she added.

“Some people have already had their prayers answered through him,” she explained. “One of our sisters was badly affected by the coronavirus and was unconscious for 31 days. Doctors said she would not come back. But by our constant prayers through Bishop Obert, she was healed.”

Born in 1890 in Lignod, in the Aosta Valley, a mountainous region in north-western Italy, Fr Obert arrived in what was then British-ruled Bengal in 1919.

Appointed bishop of Dinajpur in 1949, three years later he founded the order of the Shanti Rani Sisters because, as a result of the division of British India into the independent countries of India and Pakistan (to which Bangladesh belonged at the time), nuns from independent India could no longer come to his diocese for pastoral work.

On 3 October 1951, the original congregation was created with the first five young local women living in a hostel run by the Sisters of Maria Bambina, next to the bishop's house. That same year, six other young women from Krishonogor, West Bengal (India), joined the first novices.

The first mother and teacher of the novices was Sister Enrichetta Motta, a member of the Sisters of Maria Bambina, while Fr Francesco Ghezzi, PIME missionary, acted as special administrator.

The order was officially founded on 19 March 1952 and April 30, 1953, the nuns took their first vows as Shanti Rani Sisters. Today they number 164 and carry out their ministry in education, health and catechesis. Six of them are now missionaries outside Bangladesh.

"From the beginning,” Sister Beena explained, “we taught catechists and preached in the northern part of the country”.

Since then, “Bishop Obert's purpose of establishing our congregation has been fulfilled 100 per cent,” she added. “Our congregation has made a huge contribution. As Bishop Obert said: ‘Grow in quality, instead of the number’.”

Bishop Gervas Rozario of Rajshahi, vice president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Bangladesh, was once an altar boy for Bishop Obert. He remembers his teachings and virtues.

“I never saw him express anger,” he said. “I always saw a sweet smile on his face. He was a kind human being” who preached like Christ among tribal people in northern Bangladesh.

For this reason, he prays to “be gentle like him and preach God’s message with a smiling face.”

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