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News from West Bengal

14/08/2009: India

Presently, we are 48 brothers on mission, in 6 countries in Asia. The countries are Cambodia, Bangladesh, India, Thailand and 2 others, not named here. There are at least 2 communities in each mission country. The name of our sector is AMAGS. It means, Asia Marist Ad Gentes Sector. Our sector house had been in Singapore, but is now in Bangkok, Thailand. Our sector superior is Brother Michael De Waas, a Sri Lankan.

I live in Calcutta, the capital city of the State of West Bengal, Northeast India. We three, José María, Paco (Spaniards) and Tekay (Liberian) form the Community of Proggaloy. Proggaloy is an Archdiocesan Pastoral and Development Center. We live with 2 priests and a sister. We have meals, and sometimes celebrations together. In the other Community of Burdwan, live Alex (Indian), Pepito (Filipino) and Ramon (Spaniard). We are about 200 kilometers apart. We mostly travel by train to visit each other.

What we are doing right now is to continue to discern our mission in West Bengal. First, we are learning the Bengali Language. We in the Proggaloy Community, employed a very nice woman, Joystna, a catholic who is married to a Brahmin (a Hindu priest). We had classes with her from August –December, 2008.

We decided to quit the formal classes, leave the city for awhile and live among the people in the villages. Our first village was Nousikdarchok. We lived with 3 families for 2 weeks. For Jose Maria and Paco residential arrangements were worked out with the help of two widows, while I resided with a retired teacher, Jose Maria and Paco lived with widows, while I lived with a retired teacher, Mr. Samuel Nath and his family. During our stay in Noursikdarchok, we engaged ourselves into various activities. We played with the children, attended celebrations of other Religions and witnessed traditional marriages.

Our experience in Noursikdarchok emboldened us, and we decided to undertake another one, which saw us in Bamandanga. This time, we each lived in a village. This time, we each lived in a village. A widow arranged accommodations for Jose Maria in Kandipkapti, while Paco stayed in Ranindanga and I in Ragurpur with Mr. Francis Mondal. Jose Maria lived with a widow in Kandipkapti, Paco in Ranindanga and I in Ragurpur with Mr. Francis Mondal. While it is true that we lived in 3 different villages, I could walk to Paco’s house within one minute! It took us 30 minutes to arrive at Jose Maria’s house. Paco and I attended Mass every morning, walking for 20 minutes.

In Bamandanga, we did many things, as it was in Noursikdarchok. We attended a 3 day inter-faith gathering, where a lot of deafening preaching was done.

Most of the people in the villages are poor. For example, the people of Bamandanga, were employed by the Indian government to dig a hole about the size of 3 football fields, six feet deep. When the rains would come, it would be a pond, full of little fish thrown in. This would generate income for them. They were each paid 81 Rupees daily, (about 2 US Dollars).

Back in the city of Calcutta, we take part in gatherings with the Religious and Priests, and sometimes we visit the temples of other religions. We also have some outings, to places like the tomb of Mother Theresa of Calcutta.

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