Father Silvano Garello celebrates Mass in Dhaka in 2015. (Photo courtesy of Xaverian Missionaries in Bangladesh, Dhaka)
Bangladeshi Catholics are mourning the death of Father Silvano Garello, an Italian missionary priest, known for his outstanding contribution to local Christian literature, catechism and translation during more than four decades in the Muslim-majority country.
Father Garello, a member of the Rome-based Society of St. Francis Xavier for Foreign Missions, passed away in Dhaka in the early hours of Jan. 18. He was 78.
"Despite his advanced age, Father Garello had always been a youthful man and full of life. He didn't have any major disease so we presume he might have died of a heart attack," Father Giovanni Gargano, a confrere from Xaverian House in Dhaka told ucanews.com.
Father Silvano Garello visits patients in hospital in Mymensigh district in 2015. (Photo courtesy of Xaverian Missionaries in Bangladesh, Dhaka)
Born in Vicenza in Italy in 1938, Father Garello was ordained in 1964. In 1970, he was sent to East Pakistan, which became independent Bangladesh a year later.
After his arrival, he learned Bengali and served as the rector of St. Francis Xavier Minor Seminary in Khulna Diocese for eight years.
Between stints in various parishes and seminaries in the dioceses of Khulna, Mymensingh and Dhaka, Father Garello devoted himself to publishing and distributing Christian books in the local Bengali language.
Since 2002 he was based in Dhaka where he relentlessly promoted Catholic books. He wrote church teachings in Bengali on behalf of the National Social Catechetical Training Center in Jessore, Khulna Diocese.
He also played a vital role in the translation of the Second Vatican Council documents, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and some papal encyclicals.
He published Mongolbarta (Good News), a bi-monthly Catholic journal intended to help Catholics approach the New Testament from 1986-96. He also published more than 200 books including commentaries, hagiography and books on liturgy, prayer and catechesis.
Father Silvano Garello in front of some his published items in Dhaka in 2015. (Photo courtesy of Xaverian Missionaries in Bangladesh, Dhaka)
Father Gargano said his confrere was a great missionary.
"He encouraged everyone to read books which he thought made life more beautiful. But sometimes he would lament that he had only a small lifespan but immense duties to fulfill," the priest said.
Father Garello wanted to see a library in every parish. "Although he did not see this dream fulfilled in his lifetime, you can find his books and publications in almost all parishes, religious formation houses, congregations and convents," Father Gargano added.
One of Father Garello's students, Father Noren J. Baidya of Khulna, remembered his former rector in St. Francis Xavier Seminary, and said his death was the "falling of a bright star."
"Father Garello was a bright star in the history of the Catholic Church in Bangladesh. He was a pious, righteous and had an ideal personality, a true disciple of Christ. He was man of dialogue, between Christians and other religions, so everyone loved him," said Father Baidya.
"His death is an irreparable loss for the church. He will be missed by all," he said.