Caritas kicks off golden jubilee celebrations in Bangladesh

Social service agency launches a year of events to mark its 50th anniversary

Stephan Uttom, Dhaka

Updated: November 29, 2021 06:12 AM GMT

Caritas Bangladesh launches its golden jubilee celebrations with a procession in Chittagong on Nov. 25. (Photo: Caritas Bangladesh)

Caritas Bangladesh has started celebrating its golden jubilee with a year-long program.

The social service arm of the local Church launched the celebrations with a rally from Chittagong on Nov. 25 that will continue until October 2022 in various parts of the country.

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Events included the hoisting of the national flag and Caritas flag, unveiling of balloons and peace doves with festoons, planting of trees, official launch of a photograph gallery, prayers and the lighting of candles, discussions and cultural events.

Cardinal Patrick D' Rozario, Caritas Bangladesh president Bishop James Romen Bairagi of Khulna, Archbishop Bejoy D'Cruze of Dhaka and Archbishop Lawrence Subrata Howlader of Chittagong joined other bishops, Caritas executive director Sebastian Rozario and other Catholic officials for the program.

Caritas Bangladesh began in 1967 as Caritas East Pakistan as Bangladesh was then known as Pakistan's eastern province. Following the 1970 cyclone in the coastal areas, the Chittagong diocese began the Christian Organization for Relief and Development (CORD) to meet the growing demand for relief work and Caritas merged with it to form a larger organization called Christian Organization for Relief and Rehabilitation (CORR)

Following the political independence of Bangladesh in 1971, the national conference of bishops was established and in 1976 the bishop reorganized CORR as CORR-Caritas. Later CORR was dropped from the name and in 1980, Caritas was registered as a charitable organization with the government of Bangladesh.

At present Caritas is working in 187 subdistricts in 53 of the country's 64 districts. It has a national office in capital Dhaka and regional offices in each of Bangladesh's eight dioceses.

Caritas Bangladesh envisions a society which embraces the values of freedom, justice, peace and forgiveness

Caritas is running 112 projects with about 1.6 million beneficiaries. It also operates 10 training centers, 248 cyclone centers, 11 technical schools, 32 tuberculosis centers and leprosy treatment centers, two drug treatment centers and 36 daycare centers. It also supports sex workers and street children.

Program director James Gomes said Caritas aims to gain the support of more individuals and organizations to build an egalitarian, just and peaceful society that encourages the new generation to love their neighbors and serve the poor.

In the light of the social teachings of the Church, Caritas Bangladesh envisions a society which embraces the values of freedom, justice, peace and forgiveness, allowing all to live as a communion and community of mutual love and respect, he said.

We are working to promote education rights and inclusive quality education, improvement of the living standards of indigenous peoples, ecological conservation and development.

Mohammad Abed Ali, 45, a fisherman and father of five in coastal Patuakhali district, said people there will always remember the help they received from Caritas after natural disasters.

Bishops and Caritas officials plant trees as part of the celebrations. (Photo: Caritas Bangladesh)

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