LETTER from FATHER MARTIN
It is our joy to let you know that we have celebrated the Second Consecration Day of our Brotherhood on 30 June, 2005. Father Francis SPB was in India for his three months retreat at the time, but Mother Susila CSS was present with the Sisters. We had also many priests, Brethren, Sisters and other guests from different Churches at Barisal.
We started the day with the Holy Communion Service at 9.30 a.m., as there was morning school. After having a cup of tea, we enjoyed a cultural programme in the Fr. Golding Hall, jointly arranged and financed by St. Pauls Fellowship and the Student Prayer Fellowship.
All the children of the compound were invited to enjoy the function, but they had to have lunch in their own hostels. However, a special item of meat was served to all of them. It was a very special day to us, because despite heavy rain all day many people joined us with their blessings, and in our culture rain signifies Gods presence and blessings from Heaven. We are sure that, like our Bishop, many others blessed us and prayed for us on that day. So thank you very much.
Father Francis SPB is now back at the house. He has had two long retreats with the Roman Catholic Communities in India in the last two years. He has gathered good experience, and now he is searching for another way towards his journey to God. I believe that there are certain stations on the way to the Cross (the Pilgrims Progress), and a move from one station to the next one above is his or her realisation in the spiritual journey. Please uphold him in your prayers. We are always grateful to him for his contributions to the Church. May God be glorified by his life!
I had a very busy time when Father Francis was away. I had to look after everything on the Fathers side of the compound, along with my regular work as a full-time teacher in our school. I also had to head our team of 15 members to attend the second South Asia Youth Conference from 8-15 June, and to write my final examination for the Bachelor of Education course soon after that. In the meantime Novice Brother Joel had a sprain in his right knee while playing football with the boys, and had to have one months bed rest with his leg in plaster. This made my job even harder. But I am grateful to our Bishop for always keeping an eye on us, and for his guidance over our mobile phone. He also requested Mother Susila CSS to stay at Barisal until Father Francis came back. Mother was one hundred per cent faithful in supporting us and leaving Jobarpar for three months under Sister Jharnas hand. I must thank God for all these.
Now we have a new Postulant, namely John Halder from Askor, a village close to Jobarpar. He was a student of ours at St. Michaels Hostel. He used to help the church choir by playing a musical instrument. He was made an Aspirant on 20 February and a Postulant on 24 June. He looks after St. Rafael Hospital, the sick-room for the boys, taking them to the doctor and nursing them. He also helps with studies in the Hostel at night, and in our Brotherhood house by cleaning, gardening etc.
Novice Joel is now recovering. He has been in the Brotherhood from 2001 and was made a Novice on 15 July, 2004. He helps Father Francis and me in every way he can. Now he and John are doing their correspondence course for the Bachelor of Theology degree offered by St. Andrews Theological College. Along with this they are also doing our Brotherhood Formation Course. The Revd. Manoroma Mitra, our parish priest the Revd. L. D. Kirtonia, and I take regular classes on the Bible, the Religious Life, the Constitution, and English. Please remember them in your prayers.
I am now preparing myself to visit the UK and Germany from 18 October to 30 November, and if God wills for another few days to visit some of our Committee members as Mrs. Mary Marsh plans. I will be there to attend the Everywhere to Everywhere programme, sponsored by the Church Mission Society (CMS) to enhance relationships and to share youth movements with the partner churches. I hope I will be able to see some of you. At the same time, I would like to invite our overseas friends to attend my Life Vow ceremony, either in person or through prayers. The date is not yet finalised, but may be in February next year. Mary Marsh will let you know on the website.
We have different kinds of lovely birds in our compound. Father Francis SPB has been feeding them regularly, and now we are doing the same. Some of them come from far, and others have their nests in our trees. They are free and do not lay eggs for us, but I am sure they are good for the ecological balance. So we have reshaped our Brotherhood garden, planting about 20 trees for them. We have planted another 100 trees as a result of our many consultations on the environment, especially since the Tsunami. We have named the garden the Fellowship Garden. The Student Prayer Fellowship laboured for it, and St. Pauls Fellowship donated some money. Now to me it looks like Eden.
The children we care for are almost like the birds. We bring them up with our whole affection and they leave us when they are grown up. We often do not know where they are now, but we are sure that they are doing some good for the community as they are trained to do in many different ways. This year 13 boys have passed SSC from St. Michaels Hostel, and nine of them got admission to the Notre Dame College at Dhaka, the best college in Bangladesh. I remember that I stayed four years in our Hostel, from 1986 to 1990, and now there are four priests in the Church of Bangladesh from among my mates during that time. So we are always proud of supplying future Church leaders.
We are now blessed with a running water system. All these years we have used the water from our pond, which is not safe. So we appointed someone to bring water from the Hostel and to fill our bathroom tanks from the pond. But it was very hard to get a competent person with the money we could pay him. So our Bishop took the initiative and gave us a tube-well and running water system. He has given a large amount of money for this. A small amount was collected locally, and also from Mother Susila CSS, to pay the engineer. It is a blessing for us. We are always grateful to our Bishop for the way he supports us.
Finally, about our guests! As in all other years we have had many guests at our house: our Bishop Michael Baroi, Bishop Dwijen Mondal, some priests of our Church, Mr. James Pender (a CMS missionary), Archbishop Paul (the representative of the Pope in Bangladesh), Bishop Patrick (a Roman Catholic Bishop), some RC Fathers, and recently Mrs. Mary Marsh and Mr. Simon Ling from the UK Committee of the Oxford Mission. We are grateful to all of them.
I end here with our best wishes and thanks to all our donors and supporters. We hope and pray that all of us will have a nice Christmas and a peaceful, bomb-free New Year.
With love and prayers,
Father St. Pauls Brotherhood.