ASIA/PAKSITAN - CENTENARY OF FRANCISABAD ST FRANCIS CITY, A LITTLE ASSISI IN PAKISTAN, CHRISTIAN OASIS IN A MAINLY MUSLIM LAND
Faisalabad (Fides Service) – A hundred years ago Belgian Capuchin Father Philip came on mission to Pakistan and built a village to which he gave the name of St Francis and which is known locally as Francisabad. Today the village, situated in the province of Faisalabad, is preparing for its centenary in 2004.
In those early days 53 Catholic families settled around the Franciscan Mission which had a chapel, the friars house and a convent of Franciscan nuns. Each family was given 25 hectares of land. Later the village acquired a girls school run by Dominican Sisters and a dispensary. The village people are good workers and good Catholics and they handed on the faith and Christian moral and spiritual values from father to son, from mother to daughter.
Today in Francisabad there are 370 families, some 3,000 people, all Catholics. The land is not very fertile, mostly desert and water is scarce and the people just manage to produce enough food for daily needs. But the faith bears much fruit in vocations: 3 priests, 25 nuns, 3 Brothers and even a bishop, as well as many teachers and catechists.
“Next year will be our own personal jubilee” the villagers say. “We will commemorate the planting of the village and thank God for all that he has done for us in these hundred years”. The local Friars say: “Francisabad is a Christian oasis in a Muslim land where the spirit of Francis lives on in the simplicity and the poverty of the people who have complete trust in Divine Providence and never forget to thank God in the troubles and the joys of daily life.” PA (Fides Service 21/5/2003 EM lines 18 Words: 299)
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