ASIA/PAKISTAN - Grief and joy in Quetta: a Christian killed, a new priest ordained, the first in Baluchistan

Quetta (Agenzia Fides) - Feelings of grief, fear and consternation, mingle with the joy and hope in the Apostolic Vicariate of Quetta, a Christian outpost in the Pakistani province of Baluchistan. The two episodes that generate mixed feelings, reported to Fides are: Tuesday 17 April, a Christian, Hyrak Maseeh, was shot dead by unidentified men as he was walking the Samungly Road. The man was taken to hospital but died. His family is in deep mourning, while the reasons for this murder are unknown and police investigations are in progress. According to Fides sources in the local Church, "it is very likely that the episode is due to an attack by Islamic extremists."
On the other hand, in the chapel of St. Joseph Convent School in Quetta, a historic event will be celebrated tomorrow, 21 April: The first ordination of a Catholic priest in Baluchistan: Deacon Gulshan Barkat, of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI), who completed his formation, after studying in Rome. Gulshan Barkat will be ordained by the Vicar Apostolic of Quetta, His Exc. Mgr. Victor Gnanapragasam, OMI, who leads the Vicariate, entrusted to the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. The missionary Oblates - currently 10 in Quetta, over 30 in all of Pakistan - began a mission in Quetta in 1982 and, after thirty years, the local Catholic community is thriving with schools, pastoral activity, catechesis in the villages, counting over 50 thousand faithful Catholics, to which are added other 50 thousand Christians of other denominations. The gift of the first priest ordained in Baluchistan, the deacon Gulshan told Fides, "has a high symbolic value: it intends to give a Christian witness and promote priestly vocations and religious life in this province," shaken by sectarian violence and by an old rebellion of local people against the government. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 20/4/2012)

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