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Oblate priests in Bangladesh mark 50 years of missionary work

The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) in Bangladesh celebrated Golden Jubilee at Lokhipur Church in Moulvibazar on July 29, 2022. (Photo supplied)

The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) in Bangladesh celebrated 50 years of service at the Church of Immaculate Conception, Lokhipur, in Moulvibazar, in the north-east of the country on July 29.
The members of OMI are popularly known as "Oblate Fathers" in Bangladesh.
Bishop Gervas Rozario of Rajshahi, Bishop Shorot Francis Gomes of Sylhet, Oblates Fathers, and nuns from various congregations, Holy Cross priests, brothers, seminarians, and 500 Catholics from different villages and Punjee from Sylhet diocese attended the event.
"50 years of missionary and evangelizing presence and services is our gratitude, confession, and pilgrims of hope in communion," said Father Ajit Victor Costa, OMI Delegation Superior in Bangladesh.  
This jubilee celebration witnessed the Good News in a Muslim-majority nation, with particular attention to indigenous and ethnic communities and migrants, in addition to helping the training of future priests in the national seminary.
Many people lauded the contribution of the Oblates to the church and society.
"Oblate Fathers are close to us and they are always ready to give us full pastoral support," said Mintu Rema, a lay leader. 

About 500 Catholics, besides bishops,priests and nuns, attended the Golden Jubilee celebration of OMI. (Photo supplied)

Rema also mentions Oblate Father Joseph Gomes’ constant guidance, direction and moral support to fight against the oppressor through the legal process for any legal rights of people living in their ancestral land. 
Sister Ralentia, a member of Visitation Sisters of Don Bosco, said, "Oblates Fathers are rooted in Bangladesh Church. During these 50 years, dedicated pastoral service and achievement are not for their name and fame, but for the glory of God and good of people."
She also invited Catholic families to offer their children to the evangelization of the poor and needy like the Oblate Fathers.
Holy Cross Father Leonard Rozario said, "I wish the Oblates a happy 50th anniversary of their arrival in Bangladesh."
He also paid great tribute to the early missionaries who toiled in missions. "May their pastoral work bring fruit through the sons of the soil," Rozario added.
The Oblates missionaries arrived in Bangladesh on July 29, 1973, following an "agreement" between the former archbishop of Dhaka, Theotonius Amal Ganguly, the provincial of the time, Father Lucian Schmitt, and Father Dalston Forbes, who was responsible for Asia.
In the beginning, many foreign priests were working in Bangladesh, but today most of them are local. There are 33 Oblates in Bangladesh, two of whom are of Indian origin, while six others serve their mission abroad.
In Bangladesh, Oblate Fathers are working in three dioceses and seven parishes. One of their major missionary contributions is teaching in local areas to indigenous people.
"Please keep us and our mission partners in your daily prayers, and encourage children to consider missionary, priestly, and religious vocations. May Mother Mary keep us all in her loving care and protection," said Father Ajit Costa, Delegation Superior in Bangladesh.
Saint Eugene de Mazenod (1782–1861) of France founded the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate on January 25, 1816. 


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