Caritas Bangladesh launched last week its year-long golden jubilee celebration in the southeastern port city of Chittagong.
Church leaders, including Cardinal Patrick D’ Rozario of Dhaka, Bishop Ramen Bairagi of Khulna, president of Caritas Bangladesh, Archbishop Bejoy D’Cruze of Dhaka, and Archbishop Lawrence Subrata Howlader of Chattogram joined the event on November 25.
The social action arm of the Catholic Church in the country has earlier launched a new logo and a song marking “50 years’ Journey with Love and Service.”
James Gomes, the organization’s program director, said Caritas aims to gain the support of more individuals and organizations to build an egalitarian, just and peaceful society.
“In the light of the social teachings of the Church, Caritas Bangladesh envisions a society which embraces the values of freedom, justice, peace and forgiveness, allowing all to live as a communion and community of mutual love and respect,” he said.
Gomes said Caritas is also working to promote development and quality education that is inclusive, improve the living standards of indigenous peoples, and encourage ecological conservation.
Caritas Bangladesh was established in 1967 as Caritas East Pakistan in what was then Pakistan’s eastern province.
Following the cyclone of November 1970, which caused widespread havoc in the coastal areas, the Diocese of Chittagong set up the Christian Organization for Relief and Development.
Later, under growing demand for relief work CORD and Caritas joined to form the Christian Organization for Relief and Rehabilitation CORR.
Meanwhile, the Bangladesh War of Independence broke out and ended on December 16, 1971, with the defeat of Pakistan, giving way to the birth of the new nation of Bangladesh.
Also in 1971, the bishops of Bangladesh who earlier were members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Pakistan formed their own Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Bangladesh.
On June 19, 1972, the new government of Bangladesh recognized CORR as a national organization. In 1976, CORR began to be called CORR-Caritas.
The following year, CORR was dropped from the name and was simply called Caritas. On February 7, 1980, Caritas was registered as a charitable organization with the government of Bangladesh.
Caritas Bangladesh is a member of Caritas Internationalis, a confederation of 165 Catholic relief, development and social service organizations operating in over 200 countries and territories worldwide.
Headquartered in the capital Dhaka, Caritas Bangladesh has eight regional or diocesan offices. It is active in 208 sub-districts in 53 of the country’s 64 districts, where it focuses on integral human development, disaster management and human resource development.
Caritas Bangladesh today is running 112 projects for about 1.6 million beneficiaries. It also operates 10 training center, 248 cyclone centers, 11 technical schools, 32 tuberculosis centers and leprosy treatment centers, two drug treatment centers and 36 daycare centers.
It also supports sex workers and street children. During emergencies, such as natural disasters, Caritas reaches out to any part of the country. – from a Vatican News report