Pakistani Christian clergy facing problems of Terrorism and hatred but still serving whole heartedly. Archbishop Saldanha
10 May 2010
Lahore: May 9, 2010. ( By Fr. Inayat Bernard for PCP) “It is a memorable day when we thank the old missionaries who toiled in this land of Punjab
and worked very hard to establish the Kingdom of God”. Archbishop Lawrence John Saldanha of Lahore was talking to the priests and religious of the Archdiocese gathered for the closing mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral on the 5th of May, 2010.
Archbishop Saldanha continued that we thank the Lord for the gift of priesthood. He said that today we recall the past ,present and look toward the future. Regarding the past he said that this year we celebrate the 150th death anniversary of St. John Mary Vianney who is the pattern of the parish priests. He spent his whole life in the parish to console people and ministered sacrament and spent enormous time in the confessional.
In the Punjab, he said, more than a hundred years ago the missionaries worked hard and shed their sweat and blood for our people. We remember them with honour because with their sacrifices we have made a lot of progress and the Catholic Church is on the strong and sound footing.
About the present Archbishop expressed that we are facing a lot of problems of terrorism, hatred and many other pressures and we are to serve our community whole heartedly. We ask the Lord for his special grace to continue giving hope to our people and help them to remain faithful to Jesus Christ who asked to remain in him and he will give all his blessings. He insisted on the value of prayer to be in close touch with the Lord. He reminded the priests and religious of the Archdiocese to make it a point to be present for the bi-monthly circle meetings along with the other occasions to strengthen the priests’ fraternity. During his homily of the closing mass for the year of the priests, Archbishop Saldanha asked the parish priests to keep proper archives which would be useful at the time of need.
Regarding future he said that the seminarians are our future and they need to commit themselves for dedicated services to the church. He said that Fr. Daniel Suply OFM Cap is celebrating his golden priestly jubilee. He thanked and appreciated his presence in the Punjab from last 50 years. He said that he is going back to Belgium in the beginning of June and our prayers are with him.
Fr. Daniel Suply said at the end of the mass, “ I thank the Lord to have chosen me to be the priest and missionary in the Punjab. He said that he did his pastoral and formation work with total heart and soul. He said he does not believe in the half measure. He said he would like to thank the student priests and sisters who have benefited from him. He assured his prayers for the priests, religious, catechists, seminarians, novices, junior sisters and the laity.
Auxiliary Bishop Sebastian Francis Shaw OFM said in the introduction in the beginning of Mass that the priesthood is the gift from God. It is not we but God himself who calls us and gives us sufficient grace to follow him. He expressed his joy and satisfaction to see the priests preset for the closing mass and wished that the message of Jesus may reach to all people.
Fr. Emmanuel Asi, the president of the diocesan priests of Lahore led the prayers of the faithful. The prayers were said for the old missionaries who served in the diocese and have slept in the Lord. Special mention was made of Fr. Buyser SJ who died a few days ago in Sri Lanka. He served in the Archdiocese like many other missionaries.
Fr. George Daniel, the Secretary of the diocesan priests thanked the priests, Dominican sisters for the decoration of the Cathedral and the seminarians including the choir members, 52 out of 68 priests joined in the festive dinner.