In January 1981, two MSSP members arrived in Pakistan. A year later the Society accepted the parish of Chak Jhumra – a far-flung, rural parish in the diocese of Faisalabad. This was followed, a few years later, by another parish and a formation house for local vocations. Formation needs also led to another house in Karachi – an hour’s flight from Faisalabad. In 1994, the Society was requested by the Archbishop of Lahore to take charge of the parish in Yuhannabad. Today, the Society is working in St. Paul’s Parish, Lahore, which was newly established in 2007.
Our main work, naturally, is the pastoral care of the people in our parish. The Church in Pakistan is still a relatively young Church with the added disadvantage of being rather isolated from the rest of the Church. Enough to say that even Catholics in neighbouring India are often surprised to hear that there actually is a Church in Pakistan; that it has seven dioceses with well over a million Catholics, as well as more than two million Christians belonging to other denominations. There are simply not enough pastoral workers to cater for the spiritual needs of these people.
The parish also serves as a platform for charitable works with the poor. At present, we run one school which not only provides free tuition and books but also medical help and nutrition for the students. We also help by sponsoring students in other schools and to follow various courses. For the sick, we provide aid through free medical camps, medical assistance, accompanying them when they have to go to hospitals besides sick visits to those who are bed-ridden. The Society, and its helpers in the parish, provide counselling and material aid for the unemployed, widows and orphans. Finally, we contribute to the formation of the local Church by helping in the Seminary as well as providing retreat and confession services for other religious.
Above all, in this country where Christians are a very tiny minority, the Church and we are aware that whatever we say or do can be an occasion for witness. Through our works and in our daily lives with people who often have a distorted idea of Christianity, we are gifted with many opportunities to account for our hope in simplicity and with respect [1 Peter 3:15].
© MSSP - Missionary Society of St Paul - 2010