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Bangladesh

Pioneering Bangladeshi editor-priest dies at 76

Father Jyoti Alexius Gomes is remembered as an iconic figure who nurtured writing and singing talent

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Pioneering Bangladeshi editor-priest dies at 76

Father Jyoti Alexius Gomes is seen at Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Dhaka on March 24. The priest, who died on July 16, is credited for his promotion of Christian literature and audiovisual production for the local Catholic Church. (Photo by Stephan Uttom/ucanews.com)

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Bangladeshi Catholics are mourning a diocesan priest hailed for his outstanding contributions as editor of a national Catholic weekly magazine and a director of the Catholic bishops' Christian Communication Center (CCC).

Father Jyoti Alexius Gomes died at a hospital in capital Dhaka early on July 16 following years of battling cardiac and respiratory problems. He was 76.

Thousands of mourners attended a funeral Mass at Holy Rosary Catholic Church in central Dhaka on the morning of July 16. He was due to be buried after a second funeral Mass in his home parish in Gazipur district on the evening of July 16.

Father Kamal Corraya, president of the Bangladesh Diocesan Priests' Fraternity, said Father Gomes was an iconic figure.

"He was a pioneer in nurturing and manifesting talents like writers and singers, and he was instrumental in the formation of the CCC. He introduced Catholic media in Bangladesh to the outer world, and he penned historic profiles for the Catholic Church in Bangladesh," Father Corraya, a parish priest and a former editor of the weekly, said in a homily.

Born on Jan. 21, 1942, at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Gazipur, Father Gomes started priestly formation life in 1957. Archbishop Joseph Cordero (later cardinal) ordained him a diocesan priest in Karachi, Pakistan, in 1972.

Following short stints in parishes, he served as editor of Pratibeshi, the sole national Catholic weekly, from 1975 to 1990. He studied third world journalism in Manila, the Philippines, in 1980 and took a radio and TV production course in London in 1984. Father Gomes was the first director of the CCC, the communication apostolate of the Bangladeshi bishops, from 1982 to 1990.
 
He was chief media coordinator during Pope St. John Paul II's visit to Bangladesh on Nov. 19, 1986.

From 1991 to 1993, he was based in Manila and served as a producer of Radio Veritas Asia (Bangla Service). From 1994 to 1996, he was the coordinator of RVA Bangla Service.

Father Gomes encouraged and brought together a good number of Christian writers, intellectuals and artists to improve contents of the newspaper and audiovisual production of the center.

From 1996 to 2009, he served various parishes in Dhaka Archdiocese and researched and wrote extensively on the history of the local church.

The priest retired from active ministries in 2014 due to illness and was based at Archbishop's House in Dhaka.

Dr. Benedict Alo D'Rozario, former executive director of Caritas Bangladesh, said the priest's demise was a great loss for the church.

"He was an outstanding youth animator and an intellectual and culturally minded person. He was a wise man and knew how to utilize talents in effective ways. Today, these needs are felt more than ever — there is a scarcity of motivators like him," he told ucanews.com. 

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