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Marianist ideals draw Bangladeshi priest to LL.M. Program

Law
July 01, 2024

Peace, justice and priesthood

by Catherine Deyarmond

The Rev. Balentine Bawel Talang just finished walking across the stage at the Spring Law Commencement to accept his LL.M. degree from the St, Mary's University School of Law.
The Rev. Balentine Bawel Talang walks the stage at the Spring Law Commencement in May 2024.

In his religious quest to assist those most in need of peace and law ministry in his home country of Bangladesh, a missionary priest found himself at the perfect place to continue his education — ̳’s University School of Law.

In 2010, The Rev. Balentine Bawel Talang (LL.M. ’24) was ordained a priest with the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate in Bangladesh.

To continue their dedication to a peace and law ministry, the Oblates determined a younger priest should study to become prepared to carry on this work. Talang was chosen for this ministry and earned his LL.B. in 2013 in his country. The Oblates later decided he should further his studies by concentrating on international law.

“As a member of the peace and justice ministry team from the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate congregation, we work with underprivileged people. We want to raise the voice of these people and work for justice,” said Talang, who was born and raised in Khasi, an indigenous community.

Talang said a missionary priest from the Congregation of Holy Cross in Indiana baptized him and his family, inspiring him to study law in the U.S. Later, a fellow priest working in peace and justice for the Oblates in Washington, D.C., suggested Talang consider studying international law at the ̳’s University School of Law.

Finding a familiar spirit

“I decided to come to ̳’s University to study law because of the ideals of the Marianists who established the University,” said Talang, who arrived in San Antonio in July 2023 to begin the . “The elements that characterize the Marianist approach to education spoke to me, especially educating for service, justice and peace. I knew this was the right place for me.”

The area’s appeal grew even stronger for Talang when he discovered San Antonio’s warm weather, like that in Bangladesh, and friendly people — including the welcoming Marianists he has lived with on campus.

“The atmosphere, professors and students all create a family spirit,” he said.

Talang said he received assistance in applying and enrolling in the from , Assistant Dean for International Programs, and , Director of Graduate Law Admissions and Enrollment Management. The LL.M. allows foreign-trained lawyers or those with a J.D. to continue studying law in the United States.

“The elements that characterize the Marianist approach to education spoke to me, especially educating for service, justice and peace. I knew this was the right place for me.”

The Rev. Balentine Bawel Talang (LL.M. ’24)

Stevenson said Talang came to ̳’s University to expand his prior knowledge of common law and merge it with his religious calling.

“He really is a delight, and the students enjoy having him in class,” Stevenson said. “He adapted well to student life and is a very positive person to be around.”

In a partnership with a law school in Monterrey, Mexico, a group from ̳’s went to Mexico in Spring 2024 to see firsthand a shelter for migrants seeking to travel from Central America to the United States.

“In addition to taking a course in U.S. and Mexico immigration law at ̳’s, I was able to go to Mexico for five days,” he said. “Immigration is a complex and burning issue. When you go there, you see the real struggle. We need to have a balance of the security of citizens while respecting humanity and human dignity.”

Talang’s study of international and comparative law has led him back to his origins. After finishing his ̳’s course work in July, Talang hopes to complete a law internship in New York City before returning to Bangladesh.

“I wanted to learn about treaties and international law,” he said. “As a member of an indigenous community in Bangladesh, we find that people are struggling with their rights and even their existence. I wish to continue doing peace and justice ministry when I return home.”

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