Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Archbishop Theotonius Amal Ganguly, C.S.C: The Servant of God - 1


Servant of God Archbishop Theotonius
Amal Ganguly, C.S.C.

Photo Courtesy: The Lightning Studio, Tejgaon, Dhaka

September 2 is the death anniversary of Archbishop Theotonius Amal Ganguly, C.S.C. -- also known as Archbishop T. A. Ganguly. He was a popular and well-respected archbishop of Dhaka, Bangladesh. His humility and holiness attracted persons of different persuasions and faiths.

His Canonization Initiated

Immediately upon his death on September 2, 1977, there was a popular demand that his canonization process start as soon as possible. We have seen such a popular call when Pope John Paul II died on April 2, 2005. Among thousands of people gathered in St. Peter's Square in Rome for mourning the death of the pope, there were people raising up banners demanding "Santo subito" -- saint immediately!

After long 29 years, Archbishop Ganguly's canonization process started in 2006. Archbishop Paulinus Costa of Dhaka, on September 2 of that year, in an official ceremony at St. Mary's Cathedral in Dhaka, introduced the causes and opened the diocesan inquiry on Archbishop Theotonius Amal Ganguly, C.S.C.

The Process of Canonization

After the death of a person, a minimum of five years has to pass before taking up the causes of his or her canonization. The canonization process has several steps: (1) Servant of God, (2) Venerable, (3) Blessed, and (4) Saint.

First, the local Bishop of the diocese, where the subject of canonization belonged, writes an official letter, containing the life of the person, and seeks the Pope's permission to start the canonization process. After receiving the permission or no-objection from the Vatican, the local Bishop officially launches the introduction of the causes and the opening of the diocesan inquiry. The subject of canonization is then called the "Servant of God." The bishop also forms a diocesan tribunal where witnesses give testimonies to the Christian virtues of the person considered heroic. These are theological virtues (faith, hope and charity), cardinal virtues (prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude), and other virtues specific to the person's state of life. The tribunal also collects all available documents (the person's own handwritten, typewritten, and printed writings as well as other writers' books and writings on him or her).

On the completion of the diocesan process, the bishop sends all documentation to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in the Vatican. The Congregation then studies them and, if satisfied at the heroic virtues of the person, issues a decree announcing him or her the "Venerable."

If the Venerable died a martyr's death, the Pope himself officially declares person a martyr through a decree and allows the beatification ceremony. After this, the person is called the "Blessed." If the Venerable died a normal death, the Congregation requires a proof of a miracle that has taken place through his or her intercession. The Pope himself gives recognition to the miracle and allows the Congregation to issue a decree for the beatification. After the beatification ceremony, the person is called the "Blessed." A feast day is also permitted to be observed in the Blessed's own diocese and certain other places.

In the last step, another miracle is required to be proven after the beatification. The Pope then asks the Congregation to prepare for the canonization of the person. The canonization ceremony confirms that the person is holy and is in heaven. He or she is then called the "Saint" and is allowed to be venerated throughout the Catholic Church.

Short Biography of Archbishop Ganguly

Archbishop Theotonius Amal Ganguly was born on January 18, 1920 at Hashnabad village under Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Church in the then Dhaka district, British India (now Bangladesh). His parents were Nicholas Komol and Romana Komola Ganguly. His father was a cook in Calcutta and mother a housewife in the village. Chubby-looking Theotonius was the second of the three brothers -- the eldest being Xavier and the youngest Anthony Bimol. His elder brother later became a doctor and practised in Calcutta and his younger brother was a contractor, member of the local Union Council, drama director and social worker.

He grew up under the loving care of his pious mother. From his childhood he used to assist his mother in her household chores -- sweeping the rooms and the yard, ironing clothes with a bottle filled with hot water, and drawing water from the nearby river. Daily prayers were an integral part of his family. From his young age he also began to attend daily Mass and assist the priest as an altar boy.

His Early Studies

With his elder brother, he began to attend the primary section of the Holy Cross High School at nearby Bandura village under the care of the Brothers of Holy Cross. He was an active and bright student who used to gain the first place in his class. He would all along get the highest marks in English, Bengali and Mathematics. He was also skillful in music, acting and recitation. His singing voice was quite popular in the area. At the school annual plays, twice he received prizes on singing and acting. Teachers would praise his brilliance in studies and gentle demeanor and ask other students to emulate them.

Entrance to the Minor Seminary

In 1937, when he was in grade VIII at the Holy Cross High School, he entered the minor seminary, called Little Flower Seminary, at Bandura. From his childhood he was interested in being a priest. At home he used to play 'Mass' with his mates by using a wooden stool as an altar, a towel as a vestment, and leaves as holy communion!

At the seminary he began his studies in earnest. On holidays, he would go to his village and help the parish priest by teaching hymns to some youths and prepare them for both Christmas and Easter Masses. He was also the only Bangali (Bengali) in the locality who could play an organ at the time.

In 1940, he passed the Matriculation (presently called the Secondary School Certificate or S.S.C.) Examinations in grade 10, held under the University of Calcutta, in the First Division -- gaining the third place with a special scholarship.

Entrance to the Major Seminary and Priesthood

The local bishop then sent him to the major seminary, called St. Albert's Seminary, run by the Jesuit Fathers at Ranchi of Bihar State, India. As usual, he was liked and appreciated by both the professors and seminarians for his studies and humble behaviour.

He successfully completed two years of philosophy and four years of theology studies at the seminary and, on June 5, 1947, was ordained a diocesan priest at St. Mary's Cathedral, Ranchi, by Jesuit Bishop Oscar Sevrin.

Higher Studies at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, USA

After his ordination, Father Theotonius Amal Ganguly returned to Dhaka and was placed at the Little Flower Seminary as an English and Latin teacher for a short period.

In the same year of 1947, the newly consecrated Bishop Lawrence Leo Graner, C.S.C., of the Diocese of Dhaka, sent Father Ganguly to the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, for higher studies in philosophy. First, he completed his M.A. in Philosophy and then, in 1951, he received his Ph.D. degree in Philosophy. His doctoral dissertation, called Purush and Prakriti (Self and Nature): A Philosophical Appraisal of Patanjali - Samkhya - Yoga. (Patanjali, an ancient Hindu philosopher promoting yoga for inner contemplation, was born in India in about 250 B.C.). Father Ganguly was the first Bangali Christian to obtain a Ph.D. degree.

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1 comment:

  1. WoW...cant wait to read the continued version.