TANGAIL, Bangladesh (UCAN) — An alarming increase in alcohol-related family problems among tribal Garo Catholics has prompted a Legion of Mary group in Mymensingh diocese to take action.
Two years ago, Sovya Mrong left her alcoholic husband because of his abusive behavior.
“My husband used to drink chu (traditional Garo liquor) every day. He didn’t care for the family and often hurled abuse at me when I asked him to stop drinking so much,” Mrong, 39, told UCA News. Her husband also refused to attend Sunday Mass.
For two years, she worked as a cook for the priests in the diocesan headquarters in Mymensingh.
Then earlier this year, she met Holy Cross Sister Mrinalini Rema, head of the Legion of Mary group in Jalchatra’s Corpus Christi Parish, who helped her find a solution.
Sister Rema and her group conducted a prayer service in Mrong’s marital home and counseled her husband on giving up alcohol. It worked. “My husband gave up alcohol and now goes to church for Sunday Mass,” said Mrong.
“We’re now a happy family and so thankful to the Legion of Mary,” she added
At least 20 families in 14 villages around Jalchatra suffered from the same plight before the group, whose members are all women, started helping them this year. None of these men have so far returned to heavy drinking.
The Legion of Mary was founded by a layman in Ireland in 1921. Members usually visit families and the sick, and collaborate in apostolic and missionary parish activities. Full members hold weekly prayer, planning and discussion meetings, and do at least two hours of service each week in pairs.
The Marian group in Mymensingh diocese was set up in 1994, and has more than 100 members.
Every week after Sunday Mass they gather in the local parish hall to pray and raise money for the poor. But now they have decided to help families torn apart by alcoholism.
“Even though drinking locally-produced liquor during cultural and festive occasions is a Garo tradition, family disputes arise when people drink alcohol regularly,” Sister Rema said.
“We pray to God through Mary, help the poor and sick, and counsel and give advice to alcohol-troubled families.”
According to Sister Rema, the counseling is quite a long process, taking 15-30 days. Members visit the family several times and talk with the husband. When there is a positive response, they arrange a prayer meeting to ask for blessings from God through Mary for the family.
Bobita Dofo, like Mrong, was going through the same situation just recently. The Marian group arranged a prayer meeting in Dofo’s house and counseled her husband.
“My husband has stopped drinking, goes to church regularly and even attends family prayers in the evening,” Dofo said.