Br. James Henke, C.S.C. | Joyful Occasions from Bangladesh

Br. James Henke, C.S.C., recently arrived in Bangladesh and will be there until April 2022.

Hello from Bangladesh! I am happy to report that five hours of blessing, song, dance, and speeches later, the new school at the parish in Srimangal has finally been inaugurated!

What a joyful occasion for Holy Cross, the Church, and all the people of this region, to see the new school open. What used to be Notre Dame Junior High School, Sreemangal, has moved into a new building with a new name – Notre Dame School and College at Sreemangal.

It has been wonderful to see old friends and to make new ones. The ladies in the pictures here performed cultural dances from the Mande and Khasia communities. Most of them were at the school as students a couple of years ago when I last visited. They were a great joy to be around, and I hope to visit them in their villages soon.

I may (or may not) have helped conclude the program by kindly refusing to speak and instead expressed a wish that everyone eat the delicious food (rather than listen to more speeches). It was a very memorable day, to be sure.

The Most Rev. Bejoy N. D’Cruze, O.M.I., the archbishop of Dhaka, and Rev. Placid Rozario, C.S.C. (SJ), the principal, inaugurated the new school at a ribbon-cutting on July 22, 2021. As soon as the ribbon was cut, balloons burst in celebration.

Accompanied by Rev. James Cruze, C.S.C. (SJ), the provincial, and Rev. Nicholas S. Baroi C.S.C. (SJ), the pastor of St. Joseph Parish, the archbishop blessed the school and revealed the carved stone commemorating the occasion. Archbishop D’Cruze offered a solemn Mass after the ceremony with Bishop Shorot Gomes, bishop of the Diocese of Sylhet, and over 35 concelebrating priests. In the congregation were several religious, social leaders, teachers, staff, and lay supporters of the school.

Fr. Cruze presided at the cultural program that immediately followed the Mass, during which thanks were given to the various donors, including the Congregational Solidarity Fund, the Mission Center of the U.S. Province, and donors of Sacred Heart of Jesus Province, that helped make this possible. The land and the new school building are the property of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Province. The school foretells a promising future as 630 students have already been admitted for the 2021 school year.

While in Bangladesh, I will be primarily stationed in this parish, located in the northeast portion of the country and made up of 70 villages that are quite distant from each other. The new school is a tremendous addition to the parish. I hope to spend weeks in a few of the villages to get to know their way of life better. In the meantime, I am assisting at the new school by offering online English courses.

A secondary goal of mine is to continue to improve my Bangla language competency. I have been learning Bangla over the past two years and have made great progress. Now that I am here, I can already see some substantial improvements, particularly with my speaking ability. I will keep everyone posted on my progress and travels over the next nine months.

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