There was great joy among the Catholics of Bangladesh when, on 9th October Pope Francis announced the name of Archbishop Patrick D'Rozario of Dhaka among the list of new cardinals in the Church. In this overwhelmingly Muslim country, Catholics make up only a tiny minority of just 0.2%, and in recent months and years Christians and members of other religious minorities have increasingly been the target of attacks by extremists. For example, in November 2015 the Italian missionary Father Piero Parolari only narrowly escaped an assassination attempt. In July 2016 some 20 foreigners were murdered by Islamist terrorists who took them hostage in a restaurant in the capital Dhaka. Responsibility for the attack was claimed by the Islamist terror group "Islamic State" and there are a growing number of similar attacks on Christians Hindus and Buddhists.
But despite this, the Catholic faithful will not allow themselves to be intimidated and in this Year of Mercy especially, they have taken the opportunity to confront the violence and terrorism with pardon and forgiveness.
(The joyful scene at the blessing of the new parish house of Our Lady of the Rosary in Hashnabad, within the Archdiocese of Dhaka © Aid to the Church in Need)
During this Holy Year the Catholic Church in Bangladesh has opened three Holy Doors. One of them is in the church of Our Lady of the Rosary in Hashnabad, within the Archdiocese of Dhaka. There are around 3,000 Catholics in this parish; their faith is strong and they play an active part in the life of the Church. The parish church was built in the 1770's by Portuguese missionaries and is one of the oldest Christian buildings in the country. It was renovated not long ago in 2002. However, the adjoining presbytery, which was built 150 years ago, was in a very dilapidated state - so poor that it was at risk of collapsing at any moment. It was too dangerous to live in and so the only thing to do was to demolish it. Thanks to the generosity of the benefactors of the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), a grant of $21,000 was given towards the cost of building a new parish house. This new centre, a two-storey building, provides living and working accommodation for the priests, offices for the parish secretariat, guestrooms, a meeting room for various purposes and a kitchen and refectory as well. To the joy of the priests and parishioners, this new building has now already been blessed and commissioned. They all want to express their heartfelt thanks to all who helped them, and promise their prayers for all our benefactors.
The vital work of Catholic charities like Aid to the Church In Need provide a lifeline to the Church wherever she is poor, persecuted or threatened. Please help our work by donating online or send your donation to Aid to the Church in Need, PO Box 7246 Baulkham Hills NSW 2153. Ph: (02) 9679-1929
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