BANGLADESH: Jesuits open their first training centre

A Jesuit priest with novices in Bangladesh.
A Jesuit priest with novices in Bangladesh.

The Society of Jesus has set up its first-ever novitiate in Bangladesh, where less than half a percent of the population is Christian – with help from an international Catholic charity.

The training centre in Mothbari, south-west Bangladesh will help promote vocations by allowing novices to study in their mother tongue, according to Father Ripon Rozario, Jesuit Mission Superior in Bangladesh.

Father Rozario told Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) that his order used to send novices abroad to train – especially to India – but obtaining visas has become increasingly difficult.

He said that the support provided by ACN for the construction of the centre was “a grace of God”.

Father Rozario added: “We already have four novices in our novitiate programme with six more joining in June.”

He highlighted that the Catholic Church “has contributed immensely to the country” – “particularly in the fields of health and education”.

He said the Jesuits first arrived in Bangladesh in 1576 but were forced to leave soon after for political reasons, adding: “We were only able to re-establish ourselves in the country in 1994.

“We run two schools, a retreat house, various spiritual and pastoral programmes, and a youth ministry.”

There are now 28 Jesuits in the South Asian country, the vast majority of whom are native vocations.

The priest said that “there are approximately 500,000 Christians in Bangladesh [a country with a population of 171 million], around 300,000 of whom are Catholics”.

He added: “The Church is quite vibrant, and we have numerous charitable activities.”

He explained that young Catholics are often inspired to join the Jesuits by witnessing the spiritual and social services offered by the order and the Church in general.

Father Rozario thanked ACN’s benefactors for their “generous support” which has allowed them to complete the construction of the training centre, making it ready to accommodate more vocations.

He concluded: “Thank you for all the support that you have given to the Bangladesh Jesuit Mission through ACN.”


With thanks to Conn McNally