The Diocese of Rajshahi in Bangladesh has been baptizing more tribal people who embraced the faith in recent weeks.
A report on AsiaNews said a group of 47 adults were baptized in the village of Korbala in northern Bangladesh on October 13. At least 70 more were expected to be baptized on October 20.
The village of Korbala belongs to the parish of Bhutahara Quasi, which was established by Italian missionaries in 2005. It has a population of about 2,500 Catholics, according to the report.
The Italian Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions has been working in the area with Santal and Oraon indigenous peoples.
“We visited these villages for over seven years,” said Father Swapon Purification in the AsiaNews report.
“We brought the Bible and the word of God, celebrated Masses and offered catechetical courses,” he said.
The priest cited the role of catechists in sharing the teachings of the Catholic Church to the people that resulted in the baptisms.
“The catechists played a significant role and their commitment was exemplary,” said Father Purification. “They visited these remote areas that can only be reached after long hours of walking,” he said.
Bernabas Hasda, a 66-year-old Santal catechist who has been working in the Church for over 40 years, said there are “enormous opportunities to break into people’s hearts.”
Durga Joachim Basra, a 40-year-old farmer who was among those baptized, said he is “very happy to have received baptism.”
“In the past, I worshiped nature and trees and practiced, together with the tribe, rituals related to the fertility of nature. I didn’t have a specific God,” he said.
“Now I turn to Jesus in my prayers. I believe that thanks to him I will obtain salvation,” added Basra.
Christians comprise less than one percent of the population of the predominantly Muslim Bangladesh.