Holy Cross Brother Harold Bijoy Rodrigues, in striped shirt, is seen here at a meeting in Dhaka. Brother Rodrigues, former provincial of the Holy Cross Brothers in Bangladesh, died on May 23. (Photo: Stephan Uttom/UCA News)
Catholics in Bangladesh are mourning and paying tribute to a former provincial of the Holy Cross Brothers for his “outstanding contributions” to education, religious formation and human development. Harold Bijoy Rodrigues died in Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka on May 23 aged 62 after losing a fight with pancreatic cancer, according to a fellow Holy Cross confrere. He was buried at Dhaka Christian Cemetery on May 24 after a funeral service conducted by Cardinal Patrick D’Rozario of Dhaka and Vatican envoy Archbishop George Kocherry. The funeral was attended by only a few people due to government Covid-19 pandemic restrictions. Brother Rodrigues was provincial of the Congregation of Holy Cross Brothers, one of the three branches of the Holy Cross Congregation (CSC) in Bangladesh, for two terms covering 12 years.
He also served as secretary of the Bangladesh Catholic Education Board, the main church body overseeing the Catholic Church’s education apostolate for two terms. Many local Catholics paid tribute to Brother Rodrigues on social media. Catholic dioceses and organizations including the Bangladesh Christian Association and Caritas Bangladesh issued condolence messages. Holy Cross Brother provincial Subal Lawrence Rozario called Brother Rodrigues “an institution and a legendary figure.” “He made outstanding contributions to our religious order and the Church. Every brother has benefited from his life and teachings,” Brother Rozario said. “He was a great man but led a simple life. He had a compassionate heart which forgave any wrongdoing easily.” Jyoti F. Gomes, current secretary of the Bangladesh Catholic Education Board, hailed Brother Rodrigues as a “great leader and educationist.” “He was a real educationist. He promoted and motivated religious vocations for brotherhood. He expanded working areas of the Holy Cross Brothers during his time as the provincial and it helped broaden the capacity of their education ministry,” said Gomes, who worked with Brother Rodrigues in various organizations for years. Gomes noted that Brother Rodrigues had dreamed of a Catholic university in Bangladesh, which was realized in the form of Notre Dame University Bangladesh in 2013. An illustrious life
Born in 1958 in Gazipur district near Dhaka, Rodrigues joined the Holy Cross Brothers in 1971 and took his final vows in 1984. He served as principal of St. Joseph School of Industrial Trades, a pioneering vocational trade school in Dhaka, from 1983-94 and 2018-20. He was vice-provincial of the Holy Cross Brothers from 1994-98 and the provincial from 1998-2003 and 2012-18. He also served as president of Bangladesh Conference of the Religious, a major forum of Catholic religious orders. Brother Rodrigues also served as a teacher, assistant headmaster, principal and governing body chairman at St. Gregory’s High School and St. Joseph’s Higher Secondary School, two prestigious Catholic institutes in Dhaka. In 2009, Brother Rodrigues obtained a doctorate in organizational leadership from the University of Incarnate Word in Texas in the United States. He was a long-time member of the governing body of Caritas Bangladesh, the social service arm of the Catholic Church. The brother also served as director of two church-run pioneering drug rehabilitation centers — Bangladesh Rehabilitation and Assistance Center for the Addicts and Ashokti Punorbashon Nibash (Addiction Rehabilitation Assistance). The Holy Cross Congregation is the largest religious order operating in Bangladesh and recognized for running top-class education institutes.
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