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Half Yearly Paper - November 2004 - April 2005

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LETTER from FATHER MARTIN

{The Consecration of St. Paul's Brotherhood and St. Paul's Fellowship]

You may remember I ended up my previous letter with a hope that we were going to celebrate 30th June as the Consecration Day of St. Paul's Brotherhood, and to form St. Paul's Fellowship. I also invited friends from abroad to join us either physically or in prayers, and I am really happy and encouraged to see many such friends sending e-mails and good wishes to us. I am grateful to all of you.

Bishop M. S. Baroi, Moderator of the Church of Bangladesh and our Visitor, reached here the day before, and according to his advice we had a short Retreat on the evening of the 29th, which was led by the local R.C. parish priest. C.S.S. Sisters, priests of Jobarpar Deanery and local people, and members of the Students' Prayer Fellowship (S.P.F.) attended. After the Retreat, Bishop Baroi was the first person to commit himself as a member of the Fellowship, and addressed people recommending them to join. The Revd. Manoroma Mitra was asked to lead the new Fellowship as its Secretary.

Mother Winifred S.E. asked the Revd. Mitra some years ago to become Secretary of the Fellowship of the Epiphany in Bangladesh, after the Fellowship was discontinued in the U.K.. But since there was only Father Francis left in the Brotherhood of the Epiphany, no-one showed any interest in continuing although there were still some members here and there. The C.S.S. Sisters had formed their own friends' circle in the year 2000 to help them through prayers. Mother Susila C.S.S. leads the programme now.

So the Bishop's will was to reorganise the Fellowship so that the Brothers and Sisters do not feel isolated in their monastic life. They need to feel love, affection and support from the local people, and it is also important to encourage local donors to support the work of the Mission within their abilities. The Revd. Mitra explained how the Epiphany Fellowship worked for a century for the Brotherhood and Sisterhood of the Epiphany. I reported to them about the little good programmes arranged by the Students' Prayer Fellowship. This was extremely encouraging to all the people present. Most of them took the form and promised to be our friends.

The next day, 30th June, was the day of our Patron Saint, St. Paul. It was decided in our Chapter to consecrate St. Paul's Brotherhood on this day at the Epiphany Church, and to observe it for the Brotherhood, along with the Epiphany Feast on 6th January, for all of us, past and present. The Bishop, along with other priests and the C.S.S. Sisters, celebrated the Eucharist and dedicated the Brethren at the altar. The church was nicely decorated with flowers and candles - it was full of joyful praises and prayers. I am quite sure that along with the Brethren many among the congregation offered them to God and God's ministry.

After the service we had a common breakfast, and then at 11 a.m. we had further celebrations in the Father George Golding Hall. A good number of people from our parishes and from other churches far and near were invited. We had prayers, good speeches and cultural items from various Hostels of the O.M. The auditorium was full, and the Bishop was amazed to see so many people coming on the day to support the Brothers.

The stage was decorated very beautifully, depicting St. Paul's journey towards the islands, and a dove flying ahead with an olive leaf. This was compared with the Epiphany Brethren and Sisters working in Barisal, which is actually an island. The speakers wished to see the present Brothers and Sisters following in the footsteps of their predecessors, who witnessed the real suffering of Christ in their life and work. At the end of the programme the Bishop invited all the interested people who wanted to join the Fellowship onto the stage, and led them in the oath. All were holding a candle in their raised hands, and uttering the vows with the Bishop. It was a memorable moment.

We had a midday feast, with the help of the Bishop and Mother Susila - we could not afford such a feast by ourselves for this huge number of people. We thank them for helping us to bring all the poor people of different colonies in our parish to have a good lunch with us. They were also happy as the feast was followed by the Mel Gibson movie, 'The Passion of Christ'. We managed to get a very poor print of the film, but it was still able to convey the message.

We are also very grateful to the Students' Prayer Fellowship for making the day a success. Their hands organised the whole programme. They worked very hard. They had a tea stall with snacks to bring extra life to people and children. They also brought out a wall magazine about the day. In the meantime, with the help of a friend's video camera we made a video of our Hostel boys' cultural and liturgical dances in different locations on the O.M. compound. The C.D. was sold to raise money for the Students' Prayer Fellowship. I am waiting to send a copy to Mrs. Mary Marsh for interested viewers abroad.

Another joyful day was Brother Joel's entering into Novitiate after three years of being a Postulant with us. And, as God wills, my ordination is on the 19th September. I am now teaching Bengali, English and Science in our O.M. High School as a full-time teacher, and doing my Bachelor of Education course. It is getting longer, so I wish to share my experience in teaching in the school, and my involvement for the last three years in the South Asia Youth Conference for Peace as a core member of the Committee.

Postulant JoŽl entering his Novitiate with St. Paul's Brotherhood

Postulant JoŽl entering his Novitiate with St. Paul's Brotherhood

Thanksgiving Celebration after the Consecration

Thanksgiving Celebration after the Consecration

The Consecration Day of the Brotherhood

The Consecration Day of the Brotherhood

The Sevikas bidding goodbye to Father Francis in the rainy season

The Sevikas bidding goodbye to Father Francis in the rainy season

Please pray for all of us, and especially for the children and youth of our country as well as the South Asia region.

Goodbye, and may God bless you all.

FATHER MARTIN, S.P.B.

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