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Remote Catholics get morale boost

Church goes to pastorally-starved village to confirm 160 faithful

Remote Catholics get morale boost
Chittagong diocese administrator Holy Cross bishop Lawrence Subrato Howlader offer confirmation to a tribal Catholic at Rowangchhari sub-district of Bandarban district
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A remote community in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, starved of pastoral care for decades, had cause to celebrate recently after 160 of them were confirmed in their own village. Chittagong diocese administrator Holy Cross bishop Lawrence Subrato Howlader confirmed the Catholics, who were mostly from tribal Tripura community in Rowangchhari sub-district, in eastern Bangladesh on March 29. About 600 Catholics attended the ceremony in Thong Chong Para, a remote village in Rowangchhari. What made the event special to the villagers is that the community has virtually had to take care of its own pastoral needs for over forty years. They live around 40 kilometers from the main parish in Bandarban district so they often went without official spiritual and pastoral care, because of threats by extremists and poor communication links. For those who really wanted to see a priest, walking was the main option. However, things started to change recently when Catechist Sisters of Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of Angels (CIC) set up a small hostel and dispensary for them. Then in September last year a resident priest was appointed to prepare the people for confirmation and provide spiritual care. Shantirung Tripura, 42 walked two hours with her family to attend the confirmation ceremony. “I was able to take the sacrament because it was given here. It was almost impossible for me to go to Bandarban, which would cost a good deal of money and take at least three days,” she said. Holy Cross Bishop Howlader became only the second prelate to visit the area after late Holy Cross Bishop Joachim Rozario of Chittagong first visited in 1975. BA13811.1647

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