The Congregation of Holy Cross maintains its oldest-surviving mission effort outside of North America in Bangladesh. Through the Holy Cross Mission Center, the United States Province continues to support the Congregation’s work in Bangladesh, specifically with the Sacred Heart of Jesus Province.
Holy Cross Founder, Rev. Basil Moreau, C.S.C., sent the first Holy Cross missionaries from France in 1853 to northeast Bengal — now Bangladesh. They faced an uphill battle with language, culture, climate and disease in an isolated region of the country. Building on Blessed Moreau’s vision of Holy Cross Religious as “educators in the faith,” the Congregation responded to the population’s urgent education and health care needs by establishing schools and dispensaries at each mission outpost.
Notre Dame College in Dhaka originated in 1949 and today is recognized as one of the premier higher education centers in Bangladesh. More than 5,000 male students attend the school. Through the College, the Congregation’s Sacred Heart of Jesus Province of Priests also maintains a technical school, sewing center, literacy school, orphanage for boys and a clinic. The Province is attempting to raise the school to university status, which would allow a new, private Notre Dame University to develop a curriculum, give its own exams and confer four-year and master’s degrees. The Mission Center is assisting to raise the $1 million needed for a facility for the University, which will be on the campus of Notre Dame College. In the meantime, the University would use college facilities.
The Province also is working to develop a second school — Notre Dame College Mymensignh – and the Mission Center is helping the raise the $800,000 needed for construction of the school buildings. Land has been purchased for the facility.
In Bangladesh, Holy Cross has 13 parishes – including 10 tribal parishes – and educates thousands of children in this largely Islamic country. The Pastoral Center at Bhadun, in a beautiful rural area not far from Dhaka, was constructed simply to serve as a home for meetings and retreats. It is close to five Catholic churches. The center has grown and is ready to expand into an actual retreat facility. The Province has a second pastoral center at Barisal.
Rev. James Cruze, C.S.C., is the Provincial of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Province was formed following the joining of the Indiana Province in Chittagong and the French-Canadian Priest Province in 1984. The area officially became a Province of Holy Cross in 1998.
Family Rosary International is also present in Bangladesh helping thousands of new Christians become stronger in their faith through prayer and the Rosary.