Father William Evans, CSC (1919-1971)
Missionary and Martyr
The following was written by Father Robert McKee, CSC.
In the cemetery at the side of St. Francis Xavier Church in Golla parish in the Diocese of Dhaka [Dacca] in Bangladesh there is a very well kept grave. The cement marker gives the name of Father William Evans, CSC, noting that he died on Nov. 13, 1971. He was just 52 years old then. He died at the village of Noabganj about five miles from his parish in Golla. His death occurred toward the end of the nine-month civil war between East and West Pakistan.
On Saturday, November 13th Father Bill boarded his boat with a friendly Golla man at the paddle. As they approached Noabganj, a soldier beckoned the boat to shore. A freedom fighter, secure in the jungle across the river, gave us his story of what followed. The soldier escorted Fr. Bill to the headquarters of the army post, near a school a short distance from the river. About twenty minutes later, two soldiers escorted Fr. Bill back to his boat. His luggage was examined – Mass equipment, a change of clothing, a few books. These items were thrown into the river. The solders ordered Fr. Bill and his boatman into a trench, dug by the army for security for post guards. Suddenly, the boatman broke into flight, running around a bend in the river bank. The soldiers firing but missing the boatman, quickly turned to Fr. Bill, striking him with their bayonets. A soldier fired twice at Fr. Bill, one bullet entering his back and exiting near his neck. The soldiers immediately threw Fr. Bill’s body into the river. The next morning, about four miles down the stream from Noabganj, a boy examining his fish traps discovered Fr. Bill’s body. The body was carried on a litter by a path a good distance from the army post of Noabganj, and by noon of November 15 Fr. Bill’s body was delivered to Archbishop Ganguly and the others at Golla. That afternoon Fr. Bill was buried in the presence of many Moslems, Hindus and Christians who knew and loved him.
Why do so many remember Fr. Bill Evans? [Because] he was fully at the service of other persons, sharing his concern, his personal interest and love. In every mission where he served his twenty-six years of priesthood, Christians, Moslems and Hindus will never forget the priest who was personally involved in their lives. He carried his nearness to God into his life as a preacher. He never missed an opportunity to preach. And he developed a real talent in bringing the Lord to life for his people by his words and his understanding of the life of his people.
Today, at Stonehill College, North Easton, MA, there is a house named EVANS HOUSE that stands as a memorial for Father William Evans, CSC.