Saturday, December 18, 2010

John Bibhudan Ratna, A Renowned Bangladeshi Catechist, Eulogized


John Bibhudan Ratna in his active life
as a catechist in Bangladesh

Photo @ courtesy of Pintu Patrick Ratna, Toronto

John Bibhudhan Ratna, in his retired life, with one
of his grandchildren in Bangladesh

Photo @ courtesy of Pintu Patrick Ratna, Toronto

John Bibhudan Ratna, popularly known as Bibhudan Ratna, who died on November 3, 2010, at Narikelbari of Faridpur District in Bangladesh, was eulogized in a December 11 ceremony in Toronto.

Organized by his two sons -- Sylvester Ratna and Pintu Patrick Ratna -- the ceremony was attended by about 100 persons in the conference hall of the New Kabab House on Danforth Avenue. Bangladeshi Christians, both Catholic and Protestant, who knew this veteran catechist personally, gave their eulogistic testimonies. They highlighted his remarkable qualities of strong memory, ever-smiling face, helping attitude, simple lifestyle, humility, gregariousness and prayerfulness.

Humble Life

After passing his Matriculation Examlinations (Grade 10) from Padrishibpur High School in present Barisal District, Bibhudan Ratna joined the same school as a teacher in 1946. In 1951, he joined the Narikelbari Catholic Church parish in Faridpur District as a catechist. In 1952-1954, he worked in Dakatia sub-centre, near Jessore, under the Khulna Diocese. In 1954-1957, he served as a teacher at Mariam Ashram School at Diang near Chittagong. He was the first teacher of this school.

In 1958, Bishop Raymond Larose, CSC, of Chittagong, placed him as a catechist at Narikelbari parish. He served there for 47 years before his retirement.

A catechist (a lay man who mainly provides oral teaching of religion in remote rural areas), like school teachers, was a low-paid Church worker. He is the frontline worker dealing with people at the grassroots level. Besides being a religion teacher, he also has other duties as a sacristan (helper of a priest in holy Masses and other religious liturgies and ceremonies), keeper of Church records (of baptisms, confirmations, marriages and deaths), counselor to parishioners and married couples, and visitor to parish sub-centres (outstations).

Bibhudan Ratna, at the time of his death, left his second wife (the first wife died in 1958), three sons and six daughters and a bundle of grandsons and granddaughters. Since his brain stroke in 2005, he broke his waist which did not heal after several operations. In the last five years of his life, he suffered much physically and mentally, being a wheelchair-bound and completely dependent on others. His funeral was attended by about 1,000 persons -- Catholics, Protestants, Muslims and Hindus.

His middle name, Bibhudan, is a Bangla (Bengali) word for 'God's gift.' He was truly a gift of God among his people.

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