ASIA/BANGLADESH - Day of Consecrated Life: six new nuns among the “Shanti Rani Sisters

Friday, 2 February 2024 consecrated life   nuns  

Dinajpur (Agenzia Fides) - The experience of consecrated life, a life entirely given to God, close to Him in prayer and charity, continues to attract young women in Bangladesh. This is what the Catechist Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, better known in the country as the “Shanti Rani Sisters”, observed on the occasion of the 28th “World Day of Consecrated Life” on February 2, who welcomed six new sisters to their community in Dinajpur, northern Bangladesh. After the novitiate, the six sisters took their first solemn vows, committing to a life of service, inspired by the examples provided by missionaries and women missionaries who carried out apostolic service in Bangladesh in the past. Monsignor Sebastian Tudu, Bishop of Dinajpur, said during the Eucharist with the solemn profession of consecrated life: "The disciples of Jesus left their families to follow Jesus Christ. Today, you too become disciples of Jesus Christ to preach the message of God. I and the entire community will support you." The nuns are already engaged in educational service. "Here, 90% of the students are non-Christians and we give them quality education. In addition to studies, we try to give them moral education, so that they can become people in the broad sense. A person becomes a good human being, who will work for social well-being", explain the nuns, who are engaged in the apostolate of education and charity. "I studied in the home of the sisters of Shanti Rani and I observed their work, their self-giving, their prayer, their community life. Their way of life gave rise to a vocation in me", Sister Marina Mary Hembrom, one of the six professed, who works at the Saint-François-Xavier school in Dinajpur. "As a teenager, I saw the sisters visiting families and helping the needy. These gestures also spoke to me,” she explained. Sister Hembrom, who comes from the diocese of Rajshahi and currently works at St. Francis Xavier School, Balubari, in Dinajpur, northern Bangladesh, said she wanted to engage in catechist service "to be a witness of Jesus Christ to others.” After her studies “as a nun and catechist, I would like to give to children and adults what I have matured in my heart, by devoting myself to the service of our mother Church,” she said. Sister Shephali Murmu, another nun engaged in service at St. Francis Xavier School in Dinajpur, explains why she became a nun: "I noticed the life of my paternal uncle, a priest, now teaching at the Holy Spirit Major Seminary in Dhaka. His life inspired me and since my childhood, I dreamed of being a consecrated person. God heard me,” she testified. "As nuns," she said, "we are living witnesses. At school, most of the children and families belong to other religious communities. They see our Christian faith in my gentleness and my love. I work for and with Jesus Christ,” she observes. The Shanti Rani Sisters are a local congregation of 170 sisters in Bangladesh. Among them, 33 are nurses and work in various hospitals, dispensaries and health centers, the others are teachers and catechists. Sister Teresa Gomes, of the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions, Secretary of the Conference of Religious Women of Bangladesh, reports to Fides that Bangladesh is booming in terms of female religious vocations: "Every year, on average, we welcome around twenty new nuns and around a hundred men are missionaries abroad,” she reports, affirming that “this is a sign of hope for the Catholic Church in Bangladesh.” Out of a population of 170 million inhabitants, the vast majority of whom are Muslims, Bangladesh has around 500,000 Catholics. 1,140 sisters tirelessly provide pastoral and social service in parishes, schools, hospitals and charity centers. (PA/FC) (Agenzia Fides, 2/2/2024)