ASIA/PAKISTAN - New parish church opened in the Archdiocese of Lahore and dedicated to Saint Joseph

Wednesday, 8 May 2024 marian devotion   local churches  

Gujranwala (Agenzia Fides) - It will be a place of worship dedicated to St. Joseph, a place where Marian devotion will be strong: the Catholic community of the Archdiocese of Lahore took part in large numbers in the inauguration and blessing of the new church of St. Joseph in Gujranwala, in the plain of Pakistani Punjab, west of Lahore, in one of the places where the Gospel was first proclaimed by Franciscan missionaries 70 years ago. The parish priest Francis Gulzar and the faithful welcomed the Archbishop of Lahore, Sebastian Francis Shaw (OFM), who presided over the Eucharistic celebration of consecration at the beginning of the Marian month, while the faithful, young people, children and entire families expressed their joy with dances and a warm welcome.
"Today is a joyful day, a day of great blessing and grace that reminds us of God's plan for our lives," the archbishop said in his homily. "We stand before God today with the same humility and faith as King Solomon, asking for blessings and looking for a way to solve our problems," he emphasized. "Through the consecration of this new church, we are reminded that God calls us to welcome our neighbor, forgive and pray for our enemies. Let us learn from the life of St. Joseph, who dedicated himself to God and the Virgin Mary, who never spoke badly of anyone in his life. Let us strive to follow his example, letting go of personal grudges and embracing love and forgiveness," he added. "May this church be a place of comfort and spiritual growth for all who enter it. May our prayers be answered and be filled with God's blessings and peace," he concluded.
The Archbishop consecrated the pillars of the church with the holy oil, burned incense on the altar, which was then blessed and adorned with sacred cloths and sacred objects, and subsequently consecrated the tabernacle. Thanking the people, Father Francis Gulzar remembered all those who helped in the construction of the church (workers, architects, donors) and all the priests, religious and faithful who supported the construction and inauguration. The Catholic Church of St. Joseph, now one of the 30 parishes of the Archdiocese of Lahore, is one of the oldest mission stations in the region: it was founded in 1953 by Belgian Capuchin missionaries. It is located about 80 km west of Lahore, the capital of the Punjab province. The foundation stone for the new church was laid on August 15, 2021, the Feast of the Assumption, at the height of the pandemic and was a great sign of hope for the local Catholic community. Despite the difficulties, the new church was now able to open thanks to the tireless efforts of Father Francis Gulzar and the generous donations of the local community. "The construction of the church," said the priest, "is a sign of God's love and a testimony to the faith and devotion of the parish community, which will continue to pray for peace, forgiveness and harmony," in a region where some Christian communities have fallen victim to acts of violence. In May, the coronation of the statue of the Virgin Mary with flowers will take place in the new St. Joseph's Church, which will attract numerous believers to pray and venerate the Mother of God. In the face of hatred and violence, faith urges us to seek consolation under the protection of our Mother Mary, Queen of Peace, our Protector, so that, alongside her, we can bring peace and reconciliation to our country," said the parish priest, recalling that the Blessed Virgin Mary is also respected by the Islamic community as she is mentioned in the Quran and the local Muslim believers know and call her as "Hazrat Maryam". (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 8/5/2024)