Some 475 students took part in a rally, prayers, meditations and other programs during the four-day event
Young Catholics participate in a rally during the 37th National Youth Day at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral Church in Dinajpur Diocese on March 25. (Photo: Stephan Uttom/UCA News)
Catholic youths along with bishops, priests, nuns and brothers participated in National Youth Day celebrations held in Bangladesh after a two-year break due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The 37th National Youth Day celebrations organized by the Catholic bishops’ Commission on Youth were held at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral Church in Dinajpur Diocese from March 24-27.
Some 475 college and university students joined members of the Bengali community and ethnic indigenous groups such as the Garo, Santal, Tripura, Oraon and Paharia for various events including a rally, prayers, meditation, cultural programs, themed talks and sharing sessions.
The theme was "Mary arose and went with haste," the same as the one for the World Youth Day to be held in Lisbon, Portugal, in 2023.
The pope’s encyclicals Laudato si and Fratelli tutti, the synodal Church, environmental issues, consumerism and arrogance were all discussed during the four-day event.
Nirmol Biswas, a 19-year-old Paharia Catholic from Rajshahi Diocese, said he was thrilled to participate in events with friends from other regions of the country.
“I want to share the lessons learned from this event with the Christian youth organizations in my area. I also will be preaching the gospel of Jesus to friends of other faiths”
“I am a Catholic but never thought so deeply about Mother Mary or what I could do for others as a Christian. But the youth conference opened my eyes,” he told UCA News.
Biswas said he would be trying to preach the word of Christ by helping others, or at least by showing some love.
“We want our youth to be the bearers and carriers of the word of God,” said Holy Cross Father Bikash James Rebeiro, executive secretary of the Youth Commission of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Bangladesh.
“It is true that there are some conventional themes in our programs, but we have tried to organize the programs to the liking of the youth who are our future,” he added.
Shopna Mondol, 25, a participant from Khulna Diocese, said the event inspired her to spread Christianity among other religious friends.
“I want to share the lessons learned from this event with the Christian youth organizations in my area. I also will be preaching the gospel of Jesus to friends of other faiths,” she told UCA News.
Around 90 percent of Bangladesh’s 160 million people are followers of Islam. Hindus make up the largest minority group, accounting for 9 percent, and the rest of the population are followers of Buddhism and Christianity among others.
An estimated 400,000 people are said to be Catholics, of which about half belong to indigenous groups.
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