A historic event was what happened in the mission of Kodbir – Diocese of Dinajpur, in the north of Bangladesh, last Sunday 22nd November 2020. Three Missionaries of the Immaculate – PIME (Sr. Pauline Mondol, Sr. Shiuly Rozario and Sr. Sweety Rozario) received from the hands of Sebastian Tudu, Bishop of Dinajpur, the missionary mandate respectively for South Brazil, North Brazil and Cameroon, during a day of prayer and celebration.
Never had an opportunity been seen like this: for the first time in this area, people were able to participate in the joy and beauty of seeing young MsI sent in the name of each of them, of the whole Bengali Church, to the peripheries of the world, to preach and bear witness to the Gospel of Christ.
After a week of animation in which the protagonists, together with other sisters, shared their missionary vocation with the various communities and surrounding villages, on Sunday 22nd November we lived the mandate mass and the feast and lunch together with the whole community.
But here is the reflection of this experience directly from the words of each one of them:
Sr. Shiuly Rozario
When I received the destination, I thought and dreamed that my missionary mandate could take place in my parish of origin, a historic parish for PIME and MsI, that of Bonpara. But the Lord always has His plans, often different from ours, and with joy and amazement I found myself accepting the proposal of the Provincial Leader sr. Bondona Cruze who anticipated the possibility of experiencing the mandate ceremony here at Kodbir, a mission where I have been working for almost two years. Knowing that this would be the first time for the community here, I immediately thought this was destined to be a beautiful and unique opportunity for everyone. We held several meetings to organize the work together with the two fathers living here at Kodbir (an Italian father of the PIME and a Santali diocesan father) and the various catechists responsible for the activities in the different villages. I gave the idea of the possibility of carrying out days of animation in the villages to raise awareness and to better communicate our missionary vocation, a proposal that everyone liked and to which we gave more importance, decreasing other ordinary programs. We knew that by going from village to village we would have a better chance of meeting people and especially young people.
The week before the activities I must admit that we had some fears about the participation of people, because for the population here this is the period of the rice harvest, in which therefore all those who are able to work are in the fields all the day.
Even though, people participated with emotion and attention in the activities of the whole week, for many even losing a day of work in the fields. All for the mission!
Personally, this travelling experience in the villages has given me a lot. Going two by two to the different inhabited centres to share our experience of God made me feel like the apostles, sent two by two by Jesus himself, felt in our steps as if we were truly living the Gospel. In our joy and in our moments of sharing once we returned home, I relived the joy of the disciples after the proclamation of the Word of God.
Working as an MsI in the field, responsible for pastoral care in this area, also gave me the opportunity to follow the entire path of realization of the week and the day of celebration and this also helped me spiritually to prepare myself to accept the mandate of Sunday 22nd November.
I enjoyed the day very much, the context was very beautiful and everything well organized, it was well explained what the missionary vocation and our choice of life is. It was a very emotional moment, a very touching blessing and prayer for me and for my life, also for the opportunity to share it with my family and relatives.
Moreover, even if it is soon to speak of fruit, this path has been truly rich for our community. Before I heard people say: ‘What luck, sister, you will see a new country and a new culture!’, But thanks to this program in the parish it was also possible for them to see that my purpose is different, it is to preach and witness the gospel, not just knowing another culture. Before everyone was waiting for this moment only as if it were my farewell to the parish, but thanks to this occasion everyone had the opportunity to understand the reason why I and the other sisters are leaving for the mission. I don’t go alone on a mission, I go in the name of the Church of Bangladesh and my land.
And what do we do with the Corona virus? Even if I have to wait to really leave for the mission, spiritually it already seems to me that I am with my Brazilian brothers and sisters. I can say that already from the moment of my destination in prayer and in daily life I remember my Brazilian people. I am sure that the Lord gives his blessing to my mission and that he allows me to succeed, also through the prayers and support of my people. I feel I have some fears, but I know that the Lord accompanies me and will allow me, with his grace, to overcome them.
Sr. Pauline Mondol
I am full of joy and my heart is filled with gratitude, on the day of the mandate my whole soul was full of happiness, it seemed to me as if the Lord’s plan for me step by step is really being fulfilled, so that I can leave for the mission in South Brazil. Together with this I also felt a hint of sadness and concern for the world situation of the coronavirus epidemic that we do not know when it will end and does not allow us to make real plans.
That day so special, even if many of my relatives and friends could not be with me, nevertheless spiritually I was very satisfied and happy to share the day with the brothers and sisters of Kodbir, who gave everything they could and had, together with their love and affection, to make the day perfect. Once again I renew my thanks to the Lord and like the Virgin Mary, I say: My soul rejoices in God my Savior.
Sr. Sweety Rozario
I am very happy and feel truly blessed in a special way. As in the Bible the Lord at different times has called and sent different prophets to preach the Word of deliverance to all, so through my vocation, the Lord has called me to preach His Gospel outside my country, in Cameroon. I know that I am not worthy of this task, but I believe that the Lord as he has given his prophets the strength and courage to preach, so he gives me his blessing and his strength to carry out his mission of liberation.
November 22, the day of our missionary mandate, was a very important and memorable day in my life, blessed by the Lord. Through the different moments of the whole day, spiritually and humanly I was strengthened to preach the Word of God, especially in the two very touching moments of the crucifix and the Bible, in which in a special way everyone prayed for me and my vocation.
When I welcomed the crucifix, I felt a mixture of joy and fear inside me. I felt that this was not an ordinary thing, that preaching the love of that crucifix was not a trivial matter, that its importance is enormous, that in the missionary work that cross will be my companion forever, that in difficult moments it can give me the strength and that in the journey of life it will be my blessing, as we recited together with faith in the prayer of Blessed Giovanni Mazzucconi, the first martyr of PIME in Oceania. I thank the Lord for this wonderful day and I ask again for his grace for the path that lies ahead of me!
sr. Pauline Mondol, sr. Shiuly Rozario e sr. Sweety Rozario,Bangladesh Province