Last November 30 to December 2 was Pope Francis’ pastoral and state visit to Bangladesh with the theme “ PEACE AND HARMONY” . Different groups, individuals and places were arranged for him to encounter

In the afternoon of his arrival day from the airport, he visited the National Martyrs’ Memorial , followed by a ‘Homage to the Father of the Nation’ at the Memorial Museum . Then he made a Courtesy visit to the President of the country and finally meeting with the Authorities, Civil Society and Diplomatic Corps . Each of these at different time and places. Addressing the President, government officials, diplomats and leaders of Bangladeshi society, he said , “ The government and people of Bangladesh have shown exemplary generosity in welcoming hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar . . . The eyes of the world have watched Bangladesh take the refugees in, but clearly the situation is still dire “

On December 1 in the morning , he celebrated the Holy Mass with priestly ordination of 16 candidates . Around 100,000 people were present .

In the afternoon he met the Cardinals, Bishops, Dignitaries and some selected lay. In his private meeting with the Bishops of Bangladesh , he urged the Bishops to be close to the laity especially to young people and families who have much to contribute to Church according to their particular gifts.

The Civic Gathering : An Inter-religious and Ecumenical Gathering for Peace attended by 4,600 representatives from the different communities of Hindus, Buddhists , Muslims , Catholic priests , religious , other Christian Church denominations , Civil society, dignitaries , Caritas and other guest . Included in the participants were 16 representatives of Rohingya Refugees who fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh . Pope Francis concluded the Inter-religious and ecumenical gathering with moving words for Rohingya : “In the name of everyone, of those who have persecuted you, hurt you; above all, for the indifference of the world, I ask for your forgiveness. I’m sorry .” “Maybe we can’t do much for you, but your tragedy has a place in our hearts,” Pope Francis told the Rohingyas . “The presence of God today is also called ‘Rohingya,” he said.

It was also on the same afternoon that he had the private meeting with the Bnagladesh Prime Minister, Sheik Hasina.

On December 2, he had the meeting for the Priests, Religious , Seminarians and Novices. He preferred to deliver his message direct from his heart and set aside his prepared speech . He reminded to take care of the vocation we have received with human tenderness, prayer … He mentioned to those present to avoid gossip (which in effect is likened to terrorism) and embrace a spirit of joy.

He had also visited the orphanage and had met the group of youths.

Here are some personal reflections/experiences of the Sisters :

Lhai – “The Papal visit was indeed grace-filled and memorable. As a missionary , I am more challenged to take care of my vocation and to beg daily for the grace to have that joyful heart to humbly serve God through our neighbors here in Bangladesh. “

Lory – I was stunned of the presence of the people wanting to see, experience and embrace the Pope in a non-Christian country. One Muslim said , ‘ We love the Pope because He is always praying for Bangladesh.’ I like so much what Pope Francis said : ‘ To have a heart of joy that gives freedom and offered peace and serenity ‘ .

Malou – It was amazing and inspiring to see the Pope bringing the message of hope, enthusiasm, inspiration and love, etc. A big challenge to put into action his inspiring messages.

Femy – He was a sign of hope andencouragement to all Christians and Muslims in Bangladesh. For us Religious, he encouraged us to nurture our vocation and to live the joy of the Gospel .

Helen – Pope Francis’ presence was a strong testimony and reminder that God is in each one. This reality enables us to sincerely tell each other, ‘ I love you’, ‘ I am sorry’ . . .

The F.I Bangladesh Community

(video – Pope in a Ricksaw)

Some photos