New Catholic prelate installed in Bangladesh’s Chattogram archdiocese

A new prelate has been installed in the Archdiocese of Chattogram, formerly known as Chittagong, in Bangladesh.

Archbishop Lawrence Subrato Howlader was installed archbishop of the former “center of Catholic Christians” in eastern Bengal on May 22.

Pope Francis named Bishop Howlader as the successor of the later Archbishop Moses M. Costa who died last year.

Bishop Howlader has been the bishop of the Barisal, Bangladesh, since 2016. From 2009 to 2016 he was auxiliary bishop of Chittagong, officially known as Chattogram since 2018.

He was born on Sept. 11, 1965, in Nobogram, Barisal, and was ordained priest on Dec. 31, 1994. He was consecrated auxiliary bishop of Chittagong on July 3, 2009.

He studied Philosophy and Theology at the Holy Spirit Major Seminary in Dhaka and later obtained a Master’s degree in Psychology from the Gregorian University in Rome.

In a brief message during his installation, the new prelate appealed to the faithful of the archdiocese for unity and cooperation.

“I have been called to serve God’s people through acts of sanctification, promotion of faith and guidance,” he said.

“I need your prayer and cooperation as I move on,” said Archbishop Howlader, a member of the Holy Cross congregation.

Born on Sept. 11, 1965, in Nobogram of Barishal district, Archbishop Howlader was ordained a priest on Dec. 31, 1994. He served in several parishes and as rector and novice master in seminaries.

From 2000 to 2004, he studied at the Gregorian University in Rome and obtained a licentiate in depth psychology, spirituality and counseling.

Because of the pandemic, only a few people were allowed to attend the installation ceremony, including 32 priests, 23 brothers and sisters, and 64 lay faithful.

Archbishop Lawrence Subrato Howlader (right) is installed as new head of the Archdiocese of Chattogram in Bangladesh on May 22. (Photo courtesy of Radio Veritas Asia)

Archbishop George Kocherry, papal nuncio to Bangladesh, reminded the new prelate “to become a Good Shepherd to the sheep, a father and a leader to them and instill in them greater missionary zeal.”

“I am confident that under your leadership Chattogram will become an exemplary diocese filled with the spirit of evangelization,” said the papal nuncio.

Archbishop Kocherry reminded the faithful of Chattogram of the rich history of their Church and the “gift of faith.”

The Christian faith first arrived in Chattogram in 1518 with Portuguese traders.

In the 1600, the first churches were built in Patherghata, Jamalkhan, and Diang under Karnaphuli Upazila.

The first Catholic priest who arrived in Chattogram was Father Francesco Fernandez, a Jesuit, who was later tortured and killed by the Arakanese.

In 1845, Chattogram became the seat of “Eastern Bengal Vicariate” and served the greater eastern Bengal being the main center of Catholic Christians.

Later, the seat is transferred to Dhaka.

Chattogram was elevated as diocese in 1927, covering a vast area from present Barishal diocese and some parts of India and Myanmar.

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