Bangladeshi Catholics in the United States have been welcoming one of their own this month.
Archbishop Patrick D’Rozario of Dhaka, Bangladesh, has visited Bangladeshi Catholic communities along the U.S. East Coast since arriving July 3 from the Vatican, where he took part in the pallium ceremony.
The archbishop became head of the Dhaka Archdiocese in October.
His two-week visit has been pastoral in nature. The archbishop has met with Bangladeshi communities in Maryland, New Jersey, Brooklyn and the borough of Queens in New York.
“People have been very, very pleased when I am visiting in the sense they have never had an archbishop so close to them,” Archbishop D’Rozario told Catholic News Service from New York this afternoon as he prepared to return home July 19.
The archbishop delivered simple messages to the communities he visited.
“The first message to them was that they belong to the local church in the United States,” he said, acknowledging that Bangladeshis have established themselves in numerous professions.
“The second thing is that I told them that somehow your coming here (to the U.S.) was not accidental. God had it planned. Although you had to struggle to come here, you are to give testimony to the heritage and faith values and witness to that (Bangladeshi) society here. We have a mission to fulfill.”
The archbishop’s trip was part of an exchange under auspices of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States. In January, Oblate Father Andrew Small, national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies, visited Bangladesh to learn about the country’s Catholic community.
In postings on the Pontifical Mission Societies’ website, Father Small described how people live in destitute poverty and face many challenges because of their situation.
Archbishop D’Rozario, who said he was the first priest to be ordained in independent Bangladesh in 1972, traces his family’s Christian roots in the region back about 200 years. He was ordained as a member of the Congregation of Holy Cross. He was named bishop of Rajshahi, Bangladesh, by Pope John Paul II in 1990 and was coadjutor archbishop of Dhaka in 2010.
The South Asian nation is home to about 500,000 Catholics, he said. In a population of 160 million, the small “little flock” of Catholics enjoy peaceful relations with their Hindu and Muslim neighbors, he said.
“Dialogue (with people of other religions) has been one of our pastoral priorities,” he told CNS. “If we do that, then also the political leaders as well as the state leaders want to do something to promote the development of religious harmony.”