Saturday, February 19, 2011

Bishop Emeritus Francis A. Gomes of Mymensingh Diocese Dies

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Bishop Francis A. Gomes, Bishop Emeritus
of Mymensingh Diocese, Bangladesh

Photo courtesy: The Catholic Directory of Bangladesh 1997, Dhaka

Bishop Francis Anthony Gomes, Bishop Emeritus of the Catholic diocese of Mymensingh, Bangladesh, died on February 17. He was 80 years old. The bishop, who retired in 2006, was suffering from frequent brain hemorrhages after his serious stroke in 2008, reports the UCANews.

The area, now comprising the diocese of Mymensingh, was previously under the Archdiocese of Dhaka. Pope John Paul II, on May 15, 1987, erected the new diocese of Mymensingh and named Father Francis A. Gomes, its first bishop. In this diocese, Catholic Christians, numbering over 73,000, comprise mainly ethnic Mandis (commonly known as Garos) and Hajongs and a few Bangalis (Bengalees).

The ever-smiling, short statured Bishop Francis A. Gomes devotedly strove for not only the religious but also the economic and educational development of his people. He also worked hard to right the injustices, perpetrated by some of the majority Muslim population, against the possession of land by the ethnic groups. He erected three new Catholic parishes raising the total number to 11.

Bishop Francis A. Gomes, as a priest of the Archdiocese of Dhaka, while working as the parish priest at Bhoborpara Catholic Church in the present district of Meherpur, in 1971, was fortunate to witness the evolving history of the newly-announced independent Bangladesh. He was present at the Baiddyanathtola mango grove which was five-minutes' walk from his church. He had lent a table, flowers with vases, flower tubs and a table cloth for use during the oath-taking ceremony of the members of the first cabinet of Bangladesh. In this first cabinet, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was declared the President in absentia (the then Pakistan government arrested him on March 26, 1971 from Dhaka and imprisoned him in West Pakistan), Nazrul Islam the Acting President (in absence of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman) and Tajuddin Ahmed Prime Minister.

We suggest that the government of Bangladesh somehow give a recognition to late Bishop Francis A. Gomes for his humble contribution to the emerging Bangladesh at the beginning of the Bangladesh War of Independence.

Bishop Francis A. Gomes was born on April 10, 1931 at Rangamatia village of Rangamatia Catholic Church in the present district of Gazipur, Bangladesh. He studied at the Little Flower Seminary of Bandura, District Dhaka, and at Notre Dame College, Dhaka. He completed his philosophy and theology studies at the Pontifical Urbaniana University under the Congregation of the Evangelization of Peoples in Rome and became a priest on December 20, 1959. He served in different parishes and seminaries in the Dhaka Archdiocese and, on September 8, 1987, was consecrated a bishop before taking over the reign of the newly-formed diocese of Mymensingh. Bookmark and Share