LETTER from BARISAL
The news from the Brotherhood and Sisterhood will be given you by Father Martin and Mother Susila themselves. I am going to give you an account of the other activities which have taken place in Oxford Mission, Barisal since my last report.
Our first notable function in 2005 was the celebration of St. Agness Day (21 January) in St. Agness Hostel. A play depicting the life of St. Agnes was performed, followed by a lunch party. In the afternoon there was a goodbye function for the girls who were about to take their SSC exams, as they would be leaving the High School and Hostel immediately after their exams. An open-air supper-party ended the day.
Then on Palm Sunday (20 March) there was a Confirmation Service, with candidates from both St. Agness Hostel and St. Michaels Hostel. The St. Agnes girls had a concert at 11.30 a.m. followed by a lunch-party, and the St. Michaels boys had an evening concert followed by a supper-party. March 26th was observed both as Easter Eve and as Independence Day. It was our National Holiday, and from morning till evening the National Flags remained hoisted.
Easter St. Agness and St. Marys had lunch-parties: the boys party was in the evening. On Easter Monday there was a Memorial Service for Lila Holder (March 28th being her first anniversary) in the OM Epiphany Church, followed by lunch in the Primary School. Lila Halder worked first as Head Mistress of the School, and then as Hostel Superintendent in St. Agnes.
On the Friday after Easter another lunch-party was held in the hall of the Primary School, for the estate workers and their families: the Fathers, Sisters and Departmental Heads were invited. One guest was delighted to see that the estate workers and their families sat family-wise, and not (as is usually done at a party) the men on one side and the women on the other. On the same day, two football matches were held in St. Michaels Hostel. From 9.30-10 a.m. there was a match between two teams of little boys, and from 4.30-5.30 p.m. a match between two teams of big boys.
25 April was the 25th ordination anniversary of the Revd. Lewis Kirtonia, the priest of St. Peters Church, Barisal. At 6.30 a.m. he celebrated the Eucharist in the OM Church of the Epiphany, after which he received two garlands, one from St. Agnes and one from St. Michaels. There were two bouquets for Mrs. Kirtonia. Then some of us were invited to a festive breakfast with the Revd. and Mrs. Kirtonia in the Sisters house. At 4.30 p.m. there was a Eucharist in St. Peters church, then an interval during which the invitees enjoyed the fresh air in the church garden, and chatted. We returned to the church, and some of us gave presents to the Revd. L. Kirtonia. There were also prayers and speeches. We then went to the church verandah for supper.
On Ascension Day there was lunch in the Primary School hall for the teachers and guests. It was the end of term before the summer holidays. At 5.30 p.m. there was a tea-party for the gardeneresses of the compound. Mr. and Mrs. Byapari, their cousins wife, and Lucy Holt (retired social worker who lives on the OM estate) were present. Lucy, who had arranged the tea-party, expressed her hope that we should have such a party every year on Ascension Day or Pentecost. We agreed, and Usha, one of the gardeneresses, thanked Lucy, and said that when Lucy could no longer entertain them, they would make contributions and continue the annual party themselves.
Pentecost Father Francis invited the couples living on OM land to tea in the main hall. After tea they signed a promise to live peaceably and keep the rules on the OM land.
On June 16th a Parents Day was held in the Primary School. After the singing of the national anthem a varied programme followed. It included speeches, questions and answers, and songs, dances, short plays and a recitation by the children. All the children were given Tiffin packets.
June 30th was St. Pauls Day, the special day of the St. Pauls Brotherhood, OM. There was Sung Eucharist at 9 a.m., followed by tea for the guests. At. 12.30 p.m. there was a cultural function with speeches, and at 2.30 a lunch party with more speeches. The elites of different churches at Barisal were invited. It was a day of joy for the Brotherhood.
This year, because there were so many other functions before and after March 25th, St. Marys Home observed July 2nd (the Visitation of Our Lady) as their special festival. At 6.30 a.m. there was a Sung Eucharist attended by all the St. Marys girls, and at 1 p.m. a festive lunch and cultural function. The guests were the heads of all departments and the Revd. Sudatta Boidya. Sweets were given to all the girls.
On July 21st the post-SSC and Guardians Day took place at the OM High School. After readings from the Quran, Gita and Bible, there was a long and varied programme of speeches, songs, dances, recitation and prize-giving to the schoolchildren.
August 12th was St. Clares Day, when the college girls of St. Clares Hostel observed their special day. At. The Sung Eucharist they performed a play, the story of St. Clare. At 1 p.m. there was a lunch-party in St. Clares dining room: the six guests thanked the cook and the St. Clares girls for their excellent cooking and serving. The Fathers, Brothers and Sisters could not come as they were attending the celebration of the Life Vows of three Sisters at the Roman Catholic Mission. Their share of the food was sent to their respective houses, to be enjoyed in the evening.
On August 18th nine people joined in a Prayer-meeting in the main hall. This is a special date for Lucy Holt, as it was the date of her flight in 1970, back to this country to work here as a laywoman. Mrs. Byapari took the meeting which was followed by tea and biscuits. The Sisters brought a bowl of flowers, beautifully arranged, for the table during the prayer-meeting, afterwards presenting the flowers to Lucy.
The blessing of the social (Self-Help) Departments new premises took place on 1st September. The Revd. M. Mitra and the Revd. L. Kirtonia officiated. All the Self-Help staff members, and many guests, were present, and at the end we were given food packets.
We thank God that Mrs. Mary Marsh and Mr. Simon Ling arrived safely in Barisal District on September 7th. They proceeded to Jobarpar, and from there back to OM Barisal on September 10th. The visitors with Mother Susila arrived just before lunch, and were given flowers by the Sisters. The Manager, the St. Marys girls, and some of the department heads were present. We were very happy to receive them.
On September 11th Mary and Simon visited the Primary School, with Father Martin and the Manager, and were given flowers by the children. They visited each class, and took photographs. They then went to the Self-Help Project to see the new offices, and had tea and sweets with Florence, the manager of the project. After that they went to see the Church, and on to the Fathers house to have some talk about the Brotherhood; then to the OM High School.
At 4 p.m. there was a Fellowship tea-party in the main hall, hosted by Mother Susila and the Sisters. Representatives came from all departments to meet our two guests. Speeches were made, and the young people from the three Hostels and from St. Marys Home entertained us with songs and dances. The guests were then shown round St. Agness Hostel, and St. Marys Home.
The next day there was a meeting in the main hall for the two guests to meet those members of the staff whom they had not met the day before - gardeners, cooks, gate-guards and nightwatchmen - totalling fifty in all. Mother Susila, two Sisters and I were also present, and I acted as interpreter. Simon and Mary then visited St. Annes Clinic, after which they went out shopping before leaving for the airport for their flight to Kolkata.
We thank our OM Management Committee in UK for their continued help and prayer for us. We pray that God will bless their work and raise up new supporters for OM.
T. K. BYAPARI
Manager, Oxford Mission, Barisal, Bangladesh