A Missionary to the Garo People: On the Legacy of Fr. Eugene Homrich, C.S.C.

As we remember the anniversary of the death of Fr. Eugene Homrich, C.S.C. (July 25, 2020), later this month, the Holy Cross Mission Center is pleased to share a tribute to Fr. Eugene originally written on July 1, 2021, by Fr. Tony Szakaly, C.S.C., the Director of Campus Ministry at Stonehill College.


Born in Michigan, Fr. Eugene Homrich, C.S.C., began his days as a missionary in 1955 and went on to spend 60 years serving and improving the lives of the Garo indigenous people of Bangladesh.

When he first arrived in the indigenous lands of the Garo, located north of Dhaka, the nation’s capital, he found approximately 2,500 Catholics spread throughout many villages. Their health and educational levels were very poor, and many were fleeing the area due to ongoing persecution.

Fr. Eugene quickly established a parish and then began working on improving the quality of life for the Garo people. He opened schools and health clinics and built a healthier population by introducing proper sanitation, crop diversification, and even the construction of inland fisheries as a means of providing protein for the people’s diets.

Because he believed that education was the key to the Garo’s future, Fr. Eugene also established a primary school at each of the small mission churches across his vast parish territory. Graduates from these schools would then be funneled to a central parish-run secondary school, while older students with aptitude and interest would be sent to Holy Cross-sponsored colleges across Bangladesh. Over the years, Fr. Eugene opened thirty schools among the Garo that continue to educate several thousand children annually.

Not only did he build schools, but Fr. Eugene also built dormitories for the students of the primary and secondary schools, since most lived too far to commute. As a result, he was responsible for housing, feeding and even providing medical care for the students in addition to typical school expenses such as books, supplies, and teachers’ salaries.

Fr. Eugene dedicated himself to the well-being of the Garo people and the preservation of their language, culture, and, above all, their faith. It was his one and only focus. In addition to spending weeks at a time traveling to and from mission churches to celebrate Mass and hear confessions, he was also known as a tireless advocate for the rights of Bangladesh’s indigenous peoples.

During the violent days of the Bangladesh Liberation War he used his church to provide refuge to those in danger, and is credited with saving the lives of hundreds of Muslims, Hindus, and Christians. The Bangladesh government recognized his extraordinary humanity and bravery and honored him with a “Friends of Bangladesh Award” for his outstanding contributions to the birth of the nation.

Fr. Eugene was forced to leave Bangladesh in 2016 due to failing health. When news of his death last July reached the mission, one parishioner spoke for all by saying “By founding schools and health centers, and defending the persecuted Garo community, Fr. Eugene became an indispensable reference in our life. When he had to return to the United States, Catholics wept saying goodbye. Today we weep because of the sad news of his death.”

While Fr. Eugene is greatly missed, his legacy certainly lives on in Bangladesh. He is considered by many to be the father of the modern Garo community. He was so successful in building up the local church that Holy Cross now staffs four parishes among the Garo. These parishes also have school systems similar to what Fr. Eugene established. In fact, across Bangladesh today, Holy Cross schools operating in indigenous areas educate more than 10,000 students annually.

While not officially recognized by the Catholic Church as a saint, Fr. Eugene is certainly a saint in the eyes of his beloved Garo people. Perhaps, one day, this missionary who built a vibrant and flourishing Church among a persecuted people, will be seen as a saint by all.


The Holy Cross Mission Center is committed to sharing inspiring stories from Holy Cross’s international missions. If you have been impacted by Holy Cross missionaries, we invite you to share your story with us at hcmc@holycrossusa.org.

Learn more about Holy Cross in Bangladesh

Published: July 1, 2024

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