Delegation of St. Bonaventure
Our history demonstrates that political
forces have often caused the demise of provinces. In Bangladesh political developments
caused the rise of a new entity, the Delegation of St. Bonaventure. In the 1960's two
Bangladesh men, Kevin Tutu and Emmanuel Gomes joined the Indian Province of St. THomas.
Brother Kevin and Fr. Emmanuel made their novitiate and professed their vows in India.
Both could visit their native country without difficulty.
In 1975 the assassination of the
founder of Bangladesh changed all this. When Fr. Emmanuel went to renew his visa, they
told him he could no longer work or stay in India. He returned to Bangladesh and became a
TOR Franciscan without a fraternity. The general minister assigned him first to a
fraternity in Italy and then to one in Sri Lanka. While there, three young friends from
Bangladesh expressed the desire to become TOR Franciscans. Fr. Emmanuel arranged for them
to go to Sri Lanka for their formation. Fr. Emmanuel returned to Bangladesh and began
assisting the Bishop of Dinajpur in parochial ministry. Other young men asked him about
entering the Franciscan life. With the help of the Province of St. Thomas and the PIME
Fathers, the friars were able to build Assisi Bhavan. The general and provincial ministers
kept hoping that the relationships between India and Bangladesh would normalize.
Instead the diplomatic
relationships worsened. It bacame almost impossible to obtain visas. At the General
Chapter of June 1995, the Province of St. Thomas proposed that the Order establish a
Delegation, that is, a unit of the Order dependent on the general minister.
In july 1999 Fr. Bonaventure Midili,
general minister, blessed the new novitiate and received three novices. The number of
young men who sense a call by God to the Franciscan way is promising.
New units bring with them the hope of
new life for our brotherhood. Bangladesh is a country of 122 million people, 85% are
Muslim and less than one percent are Christian. It will be a challenge to the six friars
towitness the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Bangladesh. They take as their model St. Francis,
who announced the peace of Christ to the Sultan with simplicity.
For furhter information write to:
P.O. Hajee Danesha College
Dt. Dinajpur; Bangladesh