Ankur Mahatto breathed a sigh of relief after the last copy of his club’s Christmas and New Years magazine Joyonti (Jubilee) was cleared to print three days ago.
Mahatto, 21, and six other young Catholics have worked hard over the past three months to collect donations, advertisements and articles for the magazine.
Ethnic Catholic Paharia is a 12th grade student and president of the Mother Teresa youth organization at Mary Catholic Church, Queen Assumed into Heaven in Natore District, northern Bangladesh, covered by the Diocese of Rajshahi.
The group has some 200 members, while the parish has around 1,500 Catholics, mostly poor indigenous farmers and day laborers.
Every year, with the exception of a hiatus from Covid-19 last year, this church-sponsored youth group has been publishing the annual magazine since 2004.
“This organization was created in 2002 with the aim of promoting unity among young local Catholics and encouraging them to express their talents through various activities. Publishing a magazine at Christmas is one of our main activities, ”Mahatto told UCA News.
I felt so happy on December 21 when I had the first printed copy of the magazine in my hand. The joy of Christmas fell on us that day
This year, a 32-page Bengali-language magazine was published for 30,000 taka (US $ 350). Most of the donations and publicity came from local Catholics and migrant Catholics from the capital Dhaka.
It will be launched on Christmas Day and will be distributed in the parish and neighboring parishes until New Year’s Day.
While printing costs make up the lion’s share of the budget, Christian writers, mostly young people, have submitted articles for free to use. Topics include local church history, motivational writing, short stories, and poems.
Mahatto says it takes a lot of time and energy for students like him to bring out a magazine on time.
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“Three months ago, the seven-member cabinet drew up a plan including a budget for the magazine. Then we sent letters to young and special writers for articles and reminded them every now and then of the submission. Then we had to go door to door asking people to donate, ”he said.
“I felt so happy on December 21 when I had the first printed copy of the magazine in my hand. The joy of Christmas fell on us that day.
Several hundred Catholic youth groups are based in 120 Catholic parishes in predominantly Muslim Bangladesh. Besides their regular youth-focused activities, most publish magazines on Christmas and New Years. Some groups also publish magazines to mark Easter Sunday.
Prominent Christian writers and religious communicators believe that publishing magazines during religious holidays is an effective way to nurture the writing skills of young Christians.
Victor K. Rozario, 44, is an eminent poet, writer and journalist who has authored several titles.
The Catholic father of three salutes the Christmas magazine of his native parish, Maria Virgo Potens Church, for inspiring him on his literary journey.
At 12, his first poem Tui Razakar (You war criminal), a rebuke against war criminals during the 1971 Liberation War, appeared in the Christmas issue of Mousumi Magazine (seasonal), sponsored by the Borni Christian Youth Organization.
“I was in eighth grade and seeing my poem in print was extremely inspiring for me,” Rozario told UCA News.
These magazines feature good articles from talented young writers. However, they cannot thrive and reach the national level amid a lack of support in the following days.
He was the magazine’s editor for several years and felt proud to send letters to people requesting articles.
“It was my first experience with the editorial process. This paved the way for my foray into the world of literature and journalism in the last days, ”said Rozario, who is now editor of the Dhaka country page. Dainik Amader Orthoniti (Our Daily Economy).
Rozario said he started his professional career as a writer and editor in 1997 with Weekly Pratibeshi (Neighbor), the only national Catholic weekly in Bangladesh. Since then he has written for various leading literary newspapers and magazines in the country.
Despite his national efforts, he continues to write for Christmas magazines and encourages young writers to keep writing.
Referring to a survey, Rozario said about 150 magazines are published each year by Catholic youth groups in Bangladesh. However, he regrets that the number of nationally recognized Christian writers is very low.
“These magazines feature good articles from talented young writers. However, they cannot thrive and reach the national level amid a lack of support in the days that follow, ”he said.
For years, the Catholic Bishops Youth Commission and the Bangladesh Christian Writers Forum have organized trainings and workshops to promote young Christian writers. But those efforts have largely waned recently, Rozario noted.
“The Church can play a major role in the promotion of young writers and Weekly Pratibeshi is a major platform to provide them with space. In addition, more trainings and workshops should be organized regularly, ”he said.
There are many magazines, but there are many opportunities for quality improvement. We need to identify and train good writers who can excel in the future
Annual Christmas Magazines are the spokespersons for youth organizations founded with Church support to promote youth leadership and talent, says Father Bulbul Augustine Reberio, editor-in-chief of Weekly Pratibeshi and director of the Christian Communication Center.
“At one point our editors came out of Christmas magazines published by youth organizations in remote villages. Their talent is revealed through these magazines, ”Father Reberio told UCA News.
The priest pointed out that Catholic parishes and youth groups also publish souvenir magazines on occasions such as priestly ordinations and church birthdays, which are a valuable source of the history and life of Catholic communities. .
In recent years, the Christian Communication Center has collected Christmas magazines from across the country to assess their quality. In the coming days, a competition will be organized and the best magazines will be rewarded, said the priest.
Similar efforts must be made in the eight Catholic dioceses of Bangladesh, insisted Father Rebeiro.
“There are many magazines, but there are many opportunities for quality improvement. We need to identify and train good writers who can excel in the future, ”he added.
Writer Rozario believes that having good writers and editors from the Christian minority community is essential to fill an “intellectual vacuum” that exists in the community.
“However, Christian groups that promote writers should avoid the tendency to create ‘Christian writers’, but should emphasize having ‘universal writers’ who happen to be Christians. Otherwise, they will become irrelevant at the national level, ”he said.
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