Lahore (Agenzia Fides) - "It is a great joy for us, Franciscans in Pakistan and the whole Church in this country to celebrate the priestly ordination of seven deacon Capuchin friars of our Custody. We entrust them to God that they may be faithful followers of Christ, of the Church and servants of the Pakistani people, close to the people without any discrimination of religion, culture or ethnic origin ": this was how Friar Francis Nadeem OFM Cap, Provincial of the Capuchin Friars in Pakistan announced to Fides the ordination to the priesthood of seven young friars: friar Babar Khushi, friar Masam Ilyas, friar Aqeel Ashiq, friar Babar Shahzad, friar Atif Alphonse, friar Sunil Irfan Sabir and friar Faisal Francis.
Fides learned that the celebration took place on Saturday 30 November in the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Lahore and the celebrant was Archbishop Sebastian Francis Shaw. Among those present for the solemn celebration, during which the seven friars became priests of the Catholic community in Pakistan, numerous priests, religious men and women and lay faithful who prayed for the newly ordained priests. "Thanks to God’s grace the number of Capuchin friars is growing. We ask everyone to pray for the community of capuchin friars who bring to Pakistan a message of brotherhood, service of the poor and commitment to furthering justice and peace in the country;" said Fr. Francis Nadeem. "These young priests - he said – are a gift to enable the local Church to be ever more dedicated to pastoral service, to the celebration of the sacraments and the announcement of the Gospel in our nation", he concluded.
The Church in Pakistan is "fervent in priestly vocations and the religious life, a blessing from God ever closer to the people ", Fides was told by Fr. Inayat Bernard, Rector of the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Lahore, also director of the Santa Maria minor seminary in Lahore. The seminary is full of young boys and since 2015 a total 30 have been ordained priests. More young men studying at the National Institute of Theology in Karachi and at the St Francis Xavier Major Seminary in Lahore are the promise of rosy future for the Catholic Church in Pakistan", says Fr. Inayat, recalling also "numerous vocations to the female consecrated life: a sign which instils confidence and hope despite difficulties". (PA) (Agenzia Fides 3/12/2018)