Homilies of a missionary priest from Colombia and lives of Christians in his village inspire Kartik Roy to ‘become one like them’
Until the age of 21, Kartik Roy hated Christians because he thought his Hindu religion was the real one, and others were misleading people about their cultures.
"I was a Hindu, and it seemed to me the best religion. I used to hate Christians and Muslims," recalled Roy. But a missionary priest’s homilies and the lives of the Christian community in his native village slowly changed him.
The turning point began over one year ago when he started working in the mango garden of the King of Peace parish at Chandpukur in the northern Naogaon district of Rajshahi diocese.
As a laborer employed to plant mango saplings, he stayed a few days in the parish and casually attended the Mass. There he heard the homilies of Father Belisario Ciro Montoya, a missionary priest from Colombia.
Roy said he liked the “homilies and religious explanations” of the Fidei Donum (gift of faith) missionary linked to the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME). Fidei Donum missionaries are diocesan priests making themselves available to mission areas on other continents while still attached to their diocese.
Kartik Tobiath Roy receiving the Baptism in King of Peace parish of Chandpukur in the Naogaon (screenshot from video)
Roy said while working in the mango garden he enjoyed the “company of Father Montoya and I willingly attended Mass.”
But when that work was over, he move to Bangladesh's capital Dhaka, seeking a new job. In Dhaka, he wished to go to church, but could not find one near his residence.
Early this year, he returned home to Khakanda village in Naogaon district, where he started working on his family land and began going to church each week, Roy explained.
Roy said when he was a Hindu “didn’t talk with gods and goddesses” and went to the temple only occasionally.
But when he accepted Christ “as the real God,” he felt like relating to him daily.
"If I don’t go to church, I feel something is missing. If I attend the mass, listen to the homily, and sing a hymn, I feel a special kind of peace," he said.
Following Roy’s request, Father Montoya arranged for his baptism along with four other young people on March 26, a week ahead of this year’s Palm Sunday.
He received baptism and changed his name to Kartik Tobiath Roy.
Roy said the “good behavior and lifestyle of Christians” in Khakanda village also was an inspiration for him to “become one like them.”
Kartik Tobiath Roy (second from left) with other catechumens during the Baptism. (Screenshot from video)
The Chandpukur parish is five kilometers away from his village, where often nuns and catechists paid visits. Christians “were nice” to him when his father died in 2007 and later when his mother died in 2015.
“I could see Christians’ life up close. Their religious beliefs are stronger than people of other faiths. They have healthy relationships with others. Church members have unity. They respect each other and practice forgiveness," Roy explained.
"I thought it would be good to be part of that community."
"Additionally, I take Bible seriously and discovered that Jesus is the only Savior for me. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life for me,” Roy said.
He rides a bicycle that takes him 25 to 30 minutes from his home to attend Sunday Mass.
Roy stayed 14 days in Chandpukur parish, and he attended the baptism and pre-marriage classes with other youths.
Kartik Tobiath Roy (second from left) with other catechumens during baptism. (Screenshot from video)
Roy’s elder brother Ranjit Roy, who lives with him, continues to be a Hindu but has no problems with his younger brother’s change of faith.
"If he is happy with his new faith, I don’t have any problem," said Ranjit.
Five catechumens, including Roy, received baptism on March 26, and 10 more will receive baptism at the Easter Vigil, Montoya told UCA News.
He said the catechumens undergo a year-long preparation under a team of catechists and nuns.
More than 100 catechumens will be baptized in different churches of the Rajshahi diocese during this Easter season, the priest said.
Bangladesh is a Muslim-majority country with 165 million people, where Christians number around one million, roughly half of them Catholics.
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