By Robin Gomes
For over two years, the Catholic Diocese of Rajshahi in Bangladesh has been flanking its pastoral ministry with sermons, Sunday Masses and the bishop’s messages online on the video-sharing platform.
The purpose of uploading sermons and masses on YouTube is also to feed the spirit of those who cannot attend Sunday Masses because of their jobs in the Muslim-majority nation, where the weekly day of rest is Friday, says Father Patrick Gomes, secretary of the Diocesan Commission for Christian Unity and Interreligious Dialogue. The aim is "to nourish the spirit of the faithful who cannot participate in the liturgy".
The YouTube channel of Rajshahi Diocese has been the initiative of Colombian priest Father Belisario Ciro Montoya, a "fidei donum" missionary with the PIME Fathers (Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions).
He launched it in 2017, together with the Commission for Christian Unity and Interreligious Dialogue of the Diocese of Rajshahi. It was the first YouTube channel of the Catholic Church of Bangladesh and is still the only diocese in the country on the platform.
Fr. Belisario says that the first videos were made with the help of his mobile phone, “in a completely amateur way” because he never had formal training in it. In the seminary, he learnt how to go about it and is now using it as a hobby to spread the Gospel.
The priest, who is the pastor of the Chandpukur mission, recalled that when he first began uploading the videos, the viewers’ response was positive. Many of them left messages of appreciation.
He acknowledged the initial challenges such as recording videos and poor internet connectivity, especially in rural areas. Last year, he brought a good video camera from his native Colombia, and internet connectivity has improved since the early days.
Fr. Belisario argues that since everyone in Bangladesh uses a cell phone, people can watch sermons directly on the phone on demand. He loves this pastoral work which is different from the traditional parish ministry. Bishop Gervas Rozario and the Catholic faithful really appreciate this form of evangelization.
The priest’s next goal is to make a video on the life of a saint because no one has ever made a Bengali film on this subject.
Fr. Gomes said that the sermons cater to the various language groups of the diocese, namely Bengali, Oraon and Santal. Sermons in Bengali, the language spoken by most people, are very popular.
Shyamol Rozario, a frequent visitor of the diocesan YouTube channel, particularly appreciates the sermons. He says he watches them in his spare time and feels it like a prayer to God.
Besides Catholics, faithful of other religions also watch the videos.
Nearly 89 percent of Bangladesh’s some 161 million population is Muslim. Among the large minority groups are Hindus, Buddhists and Christians. (Source: AsiaNews)