Archbishop of Lahore leads his priests to India for a conference on ecclesiastical brotherhood

May 9, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Lahore, May 1, 2016: From April 18- 23, 2016 Archbishop Sebastian Francis Shaw OFM of Lahore led the Diocesan priests to India for a four day conference on the topic of Ecclesiastical Brotherhood.

On 18th April, 2016 in his welcoming address at the Archbishop’s House New Delhi, Archbishop Anil Joseph Thomas Couto of Delhi said that he was happy to see some familiar faces whom he had met in Lahore in 2007 for the centenary of Sacred Heart Cathedral, Lahore and 2012 for the ceremony of Bishop Joseph Coutts to become the Archbishop of Karachi. He said that he was enthusiastically happy to welcome the priests of the Archdiocese of Lahore. He said that it was the work of the Holy Spirit that the delegation of priests visited his Archdiocese coming from the neighboring Archdiocese of of Lahore first time after the partition of the Sub-continent. He said that he will visit Pakistan with his priests probably in 2017.

In his first speech at the reception by the Archbishop and the priests, Archbishop Sebastian Francis Shaw OFM said that the Church in Pakistan is going through numerous problems. We face terrorism and it goes on in different forms and different places of worship or relaxation. He made a special mention of the churches being attacked and people lost their lives in these attacks like All Saints church in Peshawar on 22nd September 2013, Christ church and St. John’s Catholic Church on 15th March, 2015.

He further said that though we are very loyal citizens of the country but at time we are associated with Europe or America. After 16th December 2015 attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar the army has taken a serious action and the war against the terrorists has begun in the northern areas of Pakistan. He said that the attacks at the Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park killed more than 80 people and around 40 were Christians which is a big number according to our percentage. Muslims and Christians all are human beings and we have condemned this attack at different forums and at their funerals as well. At the end of his speech he invited the Archbishop of Delhi, his priests and laity to visit them in Pakistan.

Prior to the speeches of the Archbishops, Fr. Inayat Bernard the rector of St. Mary’s Minor Seminary told about the history of the Archdiocese. He said that on behalf of the Archbishop of Lahore, Most Rev. Sebastian Francis Shaw OFM, the priests and the Organizing Committee, I am pleased to present a short history of the Archdiocese of Lahore during the first visit to India of some priests of the Archdiocese of Lahore under the guidance of the Archbishop of Lahore.

130 years ago, in the year 1886, the Diocese of Lahore was officially erected from the Archdiocese of Agra, and mission work first began in Sialkot among the native people in 1889. The pioneer missionaries were French, Italians and taken over by the Belgian Capuchin friars. In those days, the diocese covered a vast area of Catholic agricultural colonies like Mariamabad, Khushpur and Francisabad. The influence of the church radiated out to the entire surrounding villages. The original diocese was divided into several dioceses, for example Multan and later on, Faisalabad. After the partition in 1947, the Indian part of the Punjab was separated from Lahore and later on became the diocese of Jalandhar.

On April 23rd 1994, Lahore became an Archdiocese with three suffragan dioceses: Rawalpindi, Multan and Faisalabad and Most Rev. Armando Trindade became its first Archbishop. The Archdiocese today comprises of the following civil boundaries. The whole of Lahore Division with the districts of Lahore, Kasur and Sheikhupura and Nankana Sahib ; in the Gujranwala Division, the Districts of Gujranwala, Hafizabad, Sialkot and Narowal. It is the smallest in area but has the largest Catholic population around 570,000.

He told about the threefold purpose to visit the Indian Christian brethren: To establish cordial relations on the level of the church for participation in the seminars, conferences retreats in both countries. To discover working for short courses in India from one month to one year in the fields of religious and ongoing formation for priests, sisters and catechists and the interested laity. To share information on religious activities to make our south sin church more vibrant by giving witness of the Risen Lord.

During our first ecclesiastical visit to our mother church of Agra and the daughter church of Jalandhar we present to you a brief write up of our priests who are visiting and those who have contributed their articles and were unable to reach here though they were included in the initial list of visiting priests here.

We hope that in this year of mercy we shall have time to relax through our tourism of historical places and the churches and experience life of the faithful here and with our sharing we hope to come close to be the salt of the earth and the light of the word. We hope to become dynamic witnesses in the Sub-continent.

We will also appreciate that the priests and religious from India will visit us to further benefit from each other in the fields of religion and social life.

Along with the Archbishop of Lahore the visiting priests included: Fr. Akram Javed of Mariamabad, Fr. Ashraf Gill of Gujranwala, Fr. Benjamin of Samanabad Lahore, Fr. Bernard Emmanuel of Narowal, Fr. Emmanuel Ahmed of Gujranwala, Fr. Francis Chaman of Gujranwala, Fr. George Daniel of Shad Bagh Lahore, Fr. Inayat Bernard of St. Mary’ Minor Seminary Lahore, Fr. Joseph Shahzad of the Cathedral Lahore, Fr. Mushtaq Piara of Hafizabad, Fr. Philip John of Anarkali Lahore, Fr. Robin Bashir of Sialkot Cantt., Fr. Saleem David of Sheikhupura, Fr. Samson Dilawar of Samanabad Lahore, Fr. Tariq George of Gujranwala and Advocate Mr. Nadeem Anthony of Lahore.

The organizing committee was composed of Fr. Joseph Shahzad, Fr. Inayat Bernard and Mr. Nadeem Anthony. The 7th Episcopal ordination of Archbishop Sebastian, golden priestly jubilee of Fr. Benjamin Joseph, Silver priestly jubilee of Fr. George Daniel was celebrated in Delhi Archdiocese and the Jalandhar diocese at every place.

On 19th April at the Archbishop’s House at Agra, Archbishop Albert D” Souza welcomed the Pakistani Priests’ delegation. He showed his happiness by presenting gifts to each participant of the delegation. He said that it was his joy to have the priests from his daughter church of Lahore. He informed that the Mughal King Jalal ud din Muhammad Akbar had built a church where the Cathedral building is located and now the Catholic Church is looking after it and is using it for perpetual adoration.

Prior to reaching the Agra Cathedral the delegation visited the Agra Red Fort and the Taj Mahal. At arrival to the Archbishop’s House the next door Convent of Jesus and Mary was also shortly visited. After the dinner the book “Ecclesiastical Brotherhood” prepared at Lahore by the group was presented to the Abp Albert D’ Souza and Abp Sebastian said that it was an historical and joyous occasion to visit our mother church. He invited the Archdiocese to visit the daughter church which came into being on 1st September 1886. Agra Abp responded that they will make it a point to visit Pakistan in pairs in the following years.

On the way back from Delhi to Jalandhar by train Bishop Franco, his priests and laity welcomed the delegation with his priests with garlands, dhol and escorting by motorcycles with Vatican flags flying on the motorcycles and other vehicles. At arrival at the Bishop’s house at Jalandhar city Abp Sebastian said after the colorful evening welcome program that he was happy to be present with the daughter church.

He said that in 130 years it was God given opportunity to visit our brethren. He extended his invitation to Bp Franco to visit the Lahore Archdiocese as well. He said that he was overwhelmed by the dynamic personality of the bishop and vibrant faith of the priests, sisters, catechists and the laity. In order to strengthen their faith he told that on 15th March 2015 a young man Akash Bashir sacrificed his life to save hundreds of Sunday Worshippers when he stopped suicide bomber to enter St. John’s Catholic Church. He said that despite difficulties and problems the church in Pakistan enthusiastically goes on.

After mass at the Cathedral the group had the conference with the presbyterium of Jalandhar Diocese. After self-introduction of the 15 priests of the Archdiocese of Lahore the Jalandhar priests asked several questions on the topics of pastoral life, social work. Blasphemy law, formation of seminarians and catechists, living of faith, Inter-religious and inter-denominational dialogue, catholic women organization, economic situation of rural and urban area Christians etc. Frs. Samson Dilawar, Robin Bashir, Inayat Bernard and the Archbishop replied to the questions of the priests of Jalandhar diocese.

Before departing for Pakistan the places visited in India were Agra’s Red Fort and Taj Mahal. In Delhi the group visited the Lotus Temple, Mahatma Ghandi’s Samadhi, Delhi Gate, Red Fort and Chandni Chowk. In Amritsar the Golden Temple and Jalaiawala Bagh were visited.

Besides that the parishes and religious houses visited included Lamapind Jalandhar, Regional Major Seminary, Trinity College, St. John Vianney Minor Seminary, Kartarpur, Ajnala, Majithat Road and Khasa.

– pakistan christian post

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