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Bangladesh archbishop calls for prayer for first sainthood candidate

Besides his academic excellence, Archbishop Ganguly was known for great humility, modesty and a love for the poor

Bangladesh archbishop calls for prayer for first sainthood candidate

Catholics pay their respects to Archbishop T.A. Ganguly during a celebration to mark his birth centenary at Holy Rosary Church in Bangladeshi capital Dhaka on Feb. 18, 2020. (Photo: Stephan Uttom/UCA News)

Published: September 03, 2021 06:27 AM GMT

Updated: September 03, 2021 09:35 AM GMT

The leader of the Bangladesh Church has called on Catholics to pray and publicize the life and works of the late Archbishop Theotonius Amal Ganguly, the country’s first sainthood candidate, in order to speed up his canonization.

“I believe if we continue to pray with strong faith, God will listen to us and we will have the first Bengali saint,” Oblate Archbishop Bejoy N. D’Cruze of Dhaka said during his Bengali-language homily at a commemoration Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral in the Bangladeshi capital on Sept. 2.

“Bangladesh is a Muslim-majority country where Christians are a small minority. If we can have Archbishop T.A. Ganguly as the first Bengali saint, he will become a Christian icon and it will brighten the image of the Christian community. His saintly and holy life is a model for us. Let us know more about his life and follow his ideology to become better, ideal Christians.”

About 200 Catholics attended the Mass and commemoration program to mark the 44th anniversary of the death of the first Bengali archbishop of Dhaka, who was declared a Servant of God — a prelude to canonization — in 2006.

Following the Mass, representatives of Christian religious and social organizations placed wreaths and paid tribute to the late prelate at his tomb on the premises of the cathedral church.

As the program was held on a limited scale due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it was livestreamed from the official Facebook page of Weekly Pratibeshi, the national Catholic weekly magazine in Bangladesh.

In 1960, Father Ganguly made history when Pope John Paul XXIII appointed him the first native Bengali auxiliary bishop of Dhaka

In an earlier interview, Father Patrick Simon Gomes, secretary of the local Church’s canonization tribunal, told UCA News that the tribunal completed its duty in 2018 and submitted documents to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints. A Vatican delegate has also visited the local Church’s committee .

T.A. Ganguly was born on Feb. 18, 1920, in a village under Holy Rosary Church in Hashnabad of Dhaka.

He was ordained a priest in 1946. He later joined the Holy Cross Congregation, the largest religious order in Bangladesh. He became the first Christian in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) to obtain a doctoral degree in 1951.

Father Ganguly taught logic at Holy Cross-run Notre Dame College in Dhaka and in 1960, for a short period, he became the first native priest to hold the post of principal at the prestigious institute.

In 1960, Father Ganguly made history when Pope John XXIII appointed him the first native Bengali auxiliary bishop of Dhaka. He then became coadjutor archbishop of Dhaka in 1965 and led Dhaka Archdiocese as its first native archbishop from 1967 until his death from a heart attack aged 57 on Sept. 2, 1977.

Besides his academic excellence, Archbishop Ganguly was known for his great personal virtues including humility, modesty and a love for the poor.

He played a pivotal role in empowering the Church, including promotion of lay leadership, youth formation and support of the country’s downtrodden communities, after Bangladesh gained independence from Pakistan in 1971.

In 2006, Archbishop Paulinus Costa of Dhaka declared Archbishop Ganguly the country’s first Servant of God, the prelude to the Vatican’s three-stage canonization process by which a candidate may be declared venerable, then proclaimed blessed and, lastly, canonized as a saint.

Three years later, Holy Cross Bishop Patrick D’Rozario of Chittagong (later archbishop of Dhaka and cardinal) declared Canadian missionary Brother Flavian Laplante a Servant of God. He worked, died and was buried in Bangladesh, making him the country's second sainthood candidate.

For candidates who are not martyrs, the Vatican requires a miracle certified as due to their intercession for a venerable candidate to be beatified. A second miracle is then required for canonization.

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