Catholic Church in Pakistan is seeing a boom in priestly dedications, in keeping with a delighted statement by Father Inayat Bernard. He went on to lay great stress on the fact that in a country like Pakistan; where religion based persecution is a rising phenomenon, the Church continue to live out its faith enduring day after day of difficulties. He stated, in a country where 95% are Muslims, the church is “fervent in priestly vocations and consecrated life, a sign of God’s blessing, which is always close to his people.”
Father Inayat Bernard, who is Rector of “Santa Maria” Minor Seminary in Lahore, told that he leads 26 young seminarians. He said that the Catholic Church is burgeoning in Pakistan; he also disclosed that the church is also experiencing flourishing vocations: “23 priestly ordinations, including diocesan and religious priests, since the beginning of 2015 to date, and 15 new deacons who are preparing to be ordained in 2016.”
Father Inayat Bernard further told that in the time being, 79 seminarians are currently studying at the National Institute of Theology in Karachi, and 96 others are enrolled at another major seminary of the country- which is dedicated to St. Francis Xavier in Lahore: “These figures predict a rosy future for the Catholic Church in Pakistan”, said Father Inayat, “without forgetting the many vocations in women’s religious orders: a sign of hope that instills confidence and courage even in difficult moments.”
He went on to argue that amidst a multifarious socio-political situation in the country, the Christian community does suffer sporadic persecution, in various forms. Further explaining the phenomenon, he said that a recent incident where Christians were targeted, at Lahore’ heavily crowded park on Easter. “While terrorism strikes indiscriminately religious, civil and military targets”, he noted. Then again, these difficulties “do not affect our freedom and the faith of the people, but strengthens it and today we are appreciating the fruits”, he concluded.
“It is true that martyrdom, which we sometimes experience, is in itself the seed of new Christians and remains a gift of God that only through faith one can understand and live” he closes.