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Bangladesh mourns pioneer bishop

Much-missed retired bishop had been seriously ill for some time

Bangladesh mourns pioneer bishop
Bishop Francis A. Gomes (File photo)
Sumon Nongmin, Mymensingh

February 18, 2011

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The Catholic Church in Bangladesh is mourning the death of retired Bishop Francis Anthony Gomes, former prelate of northeastern Mymensingh diocese who passed away at 9:30pm February 17. Bishop Gomes was 80 and had been seriously ill since his retirement in 2006. He became paralyzed in 2008 after a massive stroke caused continuous brain hemorrhage. “He was taken to Bangkok for treatment but doctors informed he wouldn’t improve any more,” said Salesian Sister Maria, one of the two nuns who constantly took care of the bishop. He was born 30 April, 1931 at Rangamatia parish of Dhaka archdiocese. He was ordained a diocesan priest in 20 December, 1959 by Pope John XXIII. He pioneered evangelization among tribal people of the greater Mymensingh region and was the first local Bengali priest to work among tribals in the area. He led Mymensingh to canonical erection as diocese in 1987 and he became the first bishop of the diocese. Earlier Mymensingh was a part of Dhaka archdiocese. Father Simon Haccha, a tribal Garo priest and pastor of Ranikhong parish said: “Bishop Francis Gomes is the founder of Mymensingh diocese and he led tribal Catholics towards today’s better socio-economic, cultural and pastoral conditions from a challenging time.” “He fostered spiritual, educational and infrastructural developments in the diocese with once most backward tribal people. He fought for their rights regarding land and political recognition,” added Father Haccha, secretary of diocesan dialogue commission. He emphasized that tribal Catholics in Mymensingh will never forget his great contributions. BA13350.1641
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