NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Rev. Eugene E. Homrich, C.S.C., 91, died on Saturday, July 25, 2020, at Holy Cross House, Notre Dame, Ind., due to complications of the coronavirus. He was a member of the Sacred Heart Province (Bangladesh) of the Congregation of Holy Cross, serving faithfully there for over 60 years.
Fr. Homrich was born to Bernard and Ella (Valley) Homrich on December 8, 1928 in Muskegon, Mich. In the midst of the Great Depression, he and his five siblings still received a good education, and after graduating from grade school in 1942, he entered Holy Cross Seminary, Notre Dame, Ind., and graduated four years later. On August 15, 1946, he entered Sacred Heart Novitiate in Rolling Prairie, Ind., and one year and one day later, on August 16, 1947, he made First Vows. For the next four years, he lived at Moreau Seminary and attended classes at the University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Ind.
Upon graduation from Notre Dame, Fr. Homrich took four years of theology, language studies, literature, and history in Washington, D.C., at the Foreign Mission Seminary. He was ordained on June 8, 1955 in Sacred Heart Church, Notre Dame, Ind. He then went to what was then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). After a year learning the language, he spent three years in the parish at Golla in Nowabganj. In 1959, Fr. Gene was assigned to work with the Garo Tribe in Haluaghat, Mymensingh, and in 1960, he founded Corpus Christi Parish in Jalchatra in Tangail. There were only 2,500 Catholic Garos spread throughout many villages at that time. The health and educational level was very poor, and many left for the sanctuary of India because of continual persecution. Fr. Homrich learned many of the necessary trades and skills to help the people of Jalchatra, and he worked for a healthier population with toilets, shoes, crop diversification, fish tanks for protein, and much more. Fr. Homrich was there during the war against India in 1964 and against Pakistan in 1971. In 1992, because of the huge Catholic population, the Bishop of Mymensingh decided to split Jalchatra Mission and Fr. Homrich founded St. Paul’s in Pirgacha. Again, education and human development were the priorities. Fr. Homrich established centers for prenatal, maternal, and primary health care. In total, he founded some 30 schools for the Bangladesh people.
Fr. Homrich's role with the liberation movement in 1971, along with the Muktis, is well known in the area among the people. Fr. Homrich was a tireless advocate for the rights of these aboriginal peoples in land disputes and fought efforts to further marginalize them. His strong support of education, revitalization of the culture and language, and lay involvement in managing parish activities led to a vibrant and flourishing Church in the southern part of the Diocese of Mymensingh. Fr. Homrich left Bangladesh in 2016 because of health, as well as death threats by extremists. He entered Holy Cross House, Notre Dame, Ind. and lived there until his death.
Fr. Gene is preceded in death by his parents, Bernard and Ella Homrich, and his brothers, Bernard, Robert, and Joseph. He is survived by sisters Patricia (Fort Wayne, Ind.) and Sister Rosemary, OP (Grand Rapids, Mich.), and his sister-in-law Barbara (Ohio).
The Funeral Mass will be on Thursday, July 30, 2020, at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Notre Dame, Ind., with family as well as Holy Cross priests and brothers in attendance. For safety reasons, we ask all others to join us via livestream at https://campusministry.nd.edu/mass-worship/basilica-of-the-sacred-heart/funeral-live-stream/ at 9:30 a.m. ET. Burial will be in the community cemetery at Notre Dame. Kaniewski Funeral Home, South Bend, is in charge of the arrangements.
Memorial contributions in support of the mission and ministries of the Congregation of Holy Cross can be made to: United States Province of Priests and Brothers, Office of Development, P.O. Box 765, Notre Dame, IN 46556-0765 or online at donate.holycrossusa.org.