Lahore (Agenzia Fides) - "God is doing great works in my life and I am surprised when I ponder God's plans. I had never thought of being elected Custos of the Capuchin fraternity and much less did I expect to become a Bishop. As a servant of the Lord, I meditate and pray that God's will be done in every aspect of my life and in this vocation to the priesthood and religious life, in which I said yes to the Lord": comments Fr. Khalid Rehmat OFM Cap on his appointment as Bishop of the Apostolic Vicariate of Quetta, announced by the Holy See on 1 January 2021.
Fr. Khalid Rehmat, who recently took charge of the Capuchin Custody 'Mariam Siddeeqa' of Pakistan (see Fides, 19/11/2020) explains: "I was organizing my new task as Custos and now I am called to the new mission to serve the faithful in Quetta as Bishop. Upon receiving the news, Mary's words came to mind: Here I am the servant of the Lord. I was appointed Bishop on January 1, the day of the feast of Mary, Mother of God, and I chose March 25, 2021, the feast of the Annunciation, as the date for my episcopal ordination at the Cathedral of the Holy Rosary in Quetta. My ministry will be a pastoral ministry consecrated to Mary. I do not yet know God's plan, but I hope that his grace will accompany me to carry out the project for which God has chosen and called me". "God's mercy accompanies me. I pray to God that he will help me to be obedient to the Mother Church and to fulfill God's will. I hope, with his blessing, to be able to best respond to the requests of the Holy Father, the Apostolic Nuncio and my fellow Bishops in Pakistan, whom I sincerely thank and to whom I humbly ask for support".
Fr. Khalid Rehmat is the first Pakistani Capuchin chosen to serve as Bishop in Pakistan. Previously Fr. Felicissimus Raeymaeckers OFM Cap, who came from Belgium, was the last Capuchin Bishop who served the Catholic community in Lahore until July 10, 1975. The Belgian Capuchin missionaries began missions on September 1, 1886 in the Pakistani province of Punjab. Father Khalid Rehmat is also the first bishop of the Catholic diocese of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, in particular from the "Parish Mariakheil" in a small village in which about 400 Catholic families now live.
Capuchin friar since 2007 and priest since 2008, Fr. Khalid Rehmat was editor of the Catholic fortnightly magazine 'Naqeeb' and has pastoral experience in the parish of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Sialkot, in the Archdiocese of Lahore, where he built nine new chapels and three houses for catechists.
The Apostolic Vicariate of Quetta, which he will head from now on, has about 33 thousand Catholics with a population of over 32.6 million inhabitants, mainly Muslims, belonging to various ethnic-linguistic groups such as Balochi, Brahvi, Pashtun, Hazara, Urdu.
The Vicariate, currently structured in 9 parishes, covers the entire province of Balochistan, the largest province in Pakistan, which occupies 44% of the country's total area. The area was evangelized by the Mill Hill missionaries in the second half of the nineteenth century. They were replaced by the Jesuits who stayed there until 1935. In this, the Franciscan Friars Minor (OFM) took the place of the Jesuits and administered the region until 1982, when pastoral responsibility was transferred to the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI). In 1999 the Salesians who are committed to education and evangelization also arrived in Quetta City. (AG-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 4/1/2021)