Karachi (Agenzia Fides) - "To be Christians, we must be like Christ, imitate Christ and recognize Christ in each person. It is always difficult to understand that what we do for the Church is a service, not a role. All ministry in the Church is a service to others, and this title of 'pastoral worker' is not a designation, but a call to serve others and reach out with an evangelical message of love to marginalized and vulnerable people": this was stated by Monsignor Benny Mario Travas, Archbishop of Karachi, at the mass celebrated a few days ago for the blessing and solemn missionary sending of 18 lay people, called to serve in the parish of St. Anthony in Karachi. As Fides learned, addressing the faithful gathered in the church, the Archbishop said: "This special ceremony of blessing and missionary mandate of the laity as catechists and pastoral workers, is a perfect example of 'synodal Church', a participatory community in which many faithful are committed to bringing people closer to God". The Archbishop added: "Every baptized person is called to serve the Church in various ministries, in the family, in groups, in movements, in the community. I pray that you may grow in faith and serve the Church with dedication".
In blessing the 18 lay people (13 men and 5 women), the Archbishop informed them of their responsibility to go door to door to "preach the Gospel, pray and respond to the needs of the people". The Archbishop said: "You must be a model for others with your good conduct of life, faith and Christian actions. Remember to pray constantly and prepare yourselves well. Your life of prayer will benefit the other faithful and help them to take root in the love of God and neighbor". Archbishop Travas presented and gave them a Holy Bible, a Catholic Prayer Book and the Holy Rosary, congratulating them, their families and the priests of the St. Anthony Parish.
Fr. Arthur Charles, one of the priests of St. Anthony Parish, in a statement to Fides comments: "Several faithful are responding to the call of the Church, which was looking for lay people willing to carry out a pastoral service, several faithful are responding. People chosen from different areas of the parish have followed a year of formation, have begun to experience pastoral service and are now officially involved. They are lay professionals who work as nurses, tailors, drivers, teachers, civil servants or administrators". Pastoral workers attended courses on the Doctrine of the Faith, the study of the Sacred Scriptures, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Sacraments and Pastoral Care. They will visit the homes of the faithful in the area, stopping for a 15-20 minute prayer meeting in each home to read and reflect on a passage from the Gospel. Recalling the difficulties posed by the spread of Pentecostal preachers (at times completely autonomous and detached from the Church), Fr. Charles points out that "these pastoral workers will be a precious support in proclaiming the faith and the authentic teachings of the Church and to bring people back to the mother Church".
They will inform the parish priests of situations of difficulty or illness and of families with a special need. "Today, 75% of the parishioners do not have direct contact with the Church: we want to reach them in order to reconnect them with community life", hopes Fr. Charles.
Francis Ashraf, one of the catechists who is part of the team of pastoral workers, in a statement to Fides, points out: "People appreciate the visit of pastoral workers and the prayer. Families feel that the Church cares about them and is close to them. This is a great help for the pastoral teams. Their presence is a great support to the mission of the Church" (AG-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 18/2/2022)