by Sisters Shiuli Gomes, CSC, and Semaria Tongpiar, CSC
In the shadow of a new tin-roofed school building, the Sisters of the Holy Cross, other religious orders, and residents of Kulaura, Bangladesh, claimed their shared hope for the community’s children during the January 16 opening ceremony for Holy Cross School.
The exciting day began with music, decorating the school with flowers, colorful papers and balloons, and dressing the school children in colorful clothing. Bejoy Nicephorus D’Cruze, OMI, Bishop of the Diocese of Sylhet, the event’s main celebrant, blessed the nursery and kindergarten school. In his remarks at the ceremony, he shared how children have the right to receive education and care from us, and how now is their time to have fun and enjoy learning. Sister Pushpa Teresa Gomes, CSC, Area of Asia coordinator, and other Holy Cross sisters, were among the guests, as were the Associates of Mary, Queen of the Apostles Sisters, Missionaries of Charity sisters, Oblate Fathers, and village leaders, parents and students.
During the event, Sister Shiuli Gomes, CSC, shared that though young children are unable to understand their dreams for life, those attending the event were responsible to help the children in understanding their dreams and bringing them to reality. Sister Pushpa then announced the school appointments: Sister Shiuli as headmistress; Sister Semaria Tongpiar as assistant headmistress; and Holy Cross discerner Tripti Gomes as a teacher. Sister Pushpa also thanked the local community and all who worked to organize the event.
Sisters of the Holy Cross have been ministering in Lokhipur Mission, Kulaura, since 1981. Sister Joann Havelka, CSC, pioneered the ministries in the region between the Kaliti and Rangicherra tea estates, recognizing, with other sisters, that general education and health education would bring positive changes to the lives of area residents. In response, the sisters began teaching children in the parish church building and also opened a hostel for girls so that those who lived some distance away could attend the school. Later, the operation of the school and the girls’ hostel was transferred to the parish priests.
Addressing the need for health education, the sisters invited Sister Paulette Grosjean, MSC, a trained nurse who served in Jalchatra Tangail for 40 years, to establish and direct the Holy Cross Health Education Center (HCHEC). In recent years, the HCHEC established a milk program to help children suffering from malnutrition, and many have seen great improvements in their health.
Seeing these successes, parents began requesting more educational opportunities for their children, which led the Holy Cross sisters to pursue building the school in Kulaura. On the day of the opening ceremony, it was a great joy to see the parents supporting their children’s education with the Sisters of the Holy Cross.