St. Andre parish is a new Congregation of Holy Cross parish of Mymensingh Catholic Diocese in Bangladesh – it is a Garo tribal parish situated beside the Indian border. The people are very poor. Most of them live on government property and cultivate government land. Since the parish began, it has been running hostels for boys and girls in order for them to have somewhere to live while they study at the mission school. The parish boasts 1,890 Catholics.
Unfortunately, herds of wild elephants often cross over from India to Bangladesh damaging crops, houses and trees while searching for food and water. This year, on Friday, April 2, 2021, a group of wild elephants came through and destroyed approximately 11 acres of paddy field crops. Three parish homes were demolished as was the hostel dining room, a perimeter fence and part of the parish boundary wall.
It was devastating.
Fortunately, the Holy Cross Mission Center was established to help in situations like these. Soon after the stampede occurred, Fr. Dominic S. Sarkar, C.S.C., parish priest at St. Andre Parish and Fr. James Cruze, C.S.C., provincial superior, reached out to Fr. Tom Eckert, C.S.C., director of the Holy Cross Mission Center, requesting aid.
Their goal was to secure funding for six months of food for the children boarding at the parish, the priests and religious sisters and affected families. They also requested funds to repair and rebuild the parish houses, the boy’s hostel and the parish family homes. Finally, they requested funds for seeds, fertilizers, insecticide and labor to replace the 11 acres of paddy fields that were destroyed. This would help the community get back on its feet after the stampede.
Within 72 hours the Holy Cross Mission Center received a complete plan and was able to approve and wire the necessary funding for the rebuilding process.
“We have emergency funds for situations like these,” concludes Fr. Tom. “It’s hard for us to imagine this type of destruction but we are there to help because many of our generous supporters understand these needs and respond very generously.”