Friday, September 4, 2009

Archbishop Theotonius Amal Ganguly, C.S.C.: Servant of God - 3


( L-R: Second from left) Archbishop T. A. Ganguly, C.S.C. of Dhaka,
Bishop Michael Atul D'Rozaio, C.S.C. of Khulna and Bishop
Joachim Rozario of Chittagong met with Prime Minister
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman of the
newly independent Bangladesh (first from left)
on February 2, 1972 and donated a cheque for
200,000 takas and his episcopal gold chain
and cross for post-independence-war relief
and rehabilitation work in Bangladesh

Photo Courtesy: The Pratibeshi (weekly), Dhaka

My Experience with Archbishop Ganguly

I had the opportunity of knowing Archbishop Theotonius Amal Ganguly, CSC, personally when I was a seminarian at St. Joseph's Intermediate Seminary at Ramna, Dhaka, in 1964-1966, and later in other places at various occasions. As a seminarian, I sometimes served his Mass, heard his sermons, prayed and meditated together, and had interacted with him.

To me,

  • He was a man of faith: Faith had a strong foundation in him. Faith was a guide in his life. His thoughts, words and actions gave witness to his deep faith in God.
  • He was a man of prayer: Prayer was an integral part of his life. He drew strength and inspiration from his prayers. Daily in the morning he would be in the cathedral chapel for meditation and Mass and in the afternoon he would spend an hour or so in prayer in the same chapel.
  • He was a humble and gentle man: His very humility and gentleness were virtues that attracted people of all faiths to him like a magnet. He was a bright student, an intelligent and learned man, the first Ph.D. in the Bangali Christian community, yet he never displayed a speck of pride about it. He hardly hurt anyone with his word or deed. Once a person encountered with him, he or she could never forget that positive experience.
  • He was a pastoral man: As the bishop and archbishop, he was mindful of his pastoral responsibilities. He regularly visited the faithful in different parishes and looked after their pastoral needs. After the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), he made a lasting contribution in translating and introducing the required materials for vernacular (Bengali) liturgy in place of Latin.
  • He was a man of compassion and love: His profound compassion and love compelled him to go from place to place to assist the suffering and needy, to provide hope and encouragement to the hopeless, and to right the wrong. Along with Bishop Joachim Rozario, C.S.C., of the Diocese of Chittagong, he played a vital role in founding Caritas Bangladesh, the humanitarian arm of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Bangladesh. He also gave a tremendous support to the people of all faiths who suffered in the hands of the West Pakistani army and became refugees within East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). He allowed all Catholic parishes and educational institutions to open up their compounds for giving shelter and an all-out support to many of these internal refugees.
  • He was a holy man: In some persons, holiness is most graphic, in others it is less recognizable. His thoughts, words, and actions mirrored his holiness and people could see and feel this holiness. He oozed holiness, so to say. His holiness changed many a hearts for the better.
  • He was a considerate man: Anyone who wrote him a letter, received his reply -- long or short -- immediately or even a little delayed. In spite of his busy schedule, he would not keep a person waiting indefinitely for his reply.
  • He was a respectful person: He respected all -- young and old, rich and poor, and Catholic and non-Catholic. His respect for others always came back to him as a reciprocal respect from others.
  • He was an austere man: He lived a life of austerity. His residence, his furniture, and his clothing and other personal effects were as simple as anything. He preferred very simple meals. He was never a 'prince' of the Church, but a pauper. He always availed of the second or third class compartment in the trains and motor launches while going to other towns and villages. In Dhaka city, he used a beaten up car, 'unsuitable' for a bishop or archbishop.
  • He was a man of his words: There was such a profound inter-mixture of his words and deeds that one could not but marvel at him. He himself did what he said. He always kept his word in spite of personal difficulties.
  • He was a man of inspiration and encouragement: He always inspired and encouraged the youth -- both male and female -- to give leadership in their own spheres. As a result, many Catholic youth organizations came into being, especially after the Bangladesh War of Independence in 1971.
  • He was a man of forgiveness: Jesus' words that one should forgive another person seventy times seven was conscientiously followed by Archbishop Ganguly. Because of his simple and humble demeanor, certain persons from the laity, clergy and Religious, sometimes hurt him verbally and behaviourally, but he was calm and patient in that situation and bore the pain in silence. He was never a reactive person.
May the Servant of God Theotonius Amal Ganguly be a saint and intercede for us more and more.

(L-R) Mr. Brian Kenneth Good, newly-consecrated Bishop
T. A. Ganguly, C.S.C., and Professor Robert Gomes
at a reception in Dhaka

Photo Courtesy: Holy Cross Archives, Notre Dame, Indiana, USA

(The End)

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