As everywhere else in Bangladesh, the Catholics in the diocese of Mymensingh represent no more than a tiny minority of the population. In fact there are just 83,000 Catholics among the 19 million or so who live within the territory of the diocese. Most of these belong to the Garo ethnic group, who live predominantly along the frontier region with India.
Ever since it was first established in 1987 the diocese has prioritised the work of strengthening young people in their faith. Bible classes, catechesis, the social teaching of the Church – all these things are important for conveying a solid ethical and religious foundation to these young people, who will be the ones to build up the future of the Church in this overwhelmingly Muslim country. “The Faith has to be nourished”, says Bishop Paul Ponen Kubi. Here too, like everywhere else in the world, the harmful influences to which young people are exposed are very strong, so that it is important to convey authentic values to them and thereby help to immunise them against these harmful influences.
All in all, the level of education is poor and the ethnic minorities generally tend to live in the less developed regions. It is here that the Church is especially committed to helping these young people not only to grow personally but also to prepare one day to assume responsibility in the Church and in society.
With help from ACN, the diocese of Mymensingh is planning to introduce a three-year religious formation programme for young people in all its 18 parishes. It will include among other things retreat days with prayer, talks, games and teambuilding activities, as well as a so-called „Bible camp“ – a form of summer camp with Bible study sessions, so that young people with little knowledge of the Bible can learn to love the Scriptures in an interesting, entertaining and convivial atmosphere. In addition there will be religious instruction, prayer, praise and other events aimed at deepening and strengthening the religious life of the young people involved.
But, needless to say, the Church in this region is also very poor and depends on our support. So we are helping with a contribution for this three-year programme.