12/03/2008, 00.00
PAKISTAN
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A missionary Advent for the Pakistani Church

by Qaiser Felix
The Church of Pakistan begins the season of Advent in the spirit of proclamation, after the first national missionary congress held in Karachi at the end of November. The young people are the protagonists of this new mission: "the life of Jesus must be brought to all corners of the country."

Karachi (AsiaNews) - A missionary Advent. The Pakistani Church has concluded its first national missionary ccngress, dedicated to the theme "Telling the story of Jesus in Pakistan," and is approaching the period leading up to Christmas in a spirit of proclamation (in the photo, a creche set up in a slum of Islamabad).

Fr. Mario A. Rodrigues, national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS), tells AsiaNews that the five days of work in Karachi, from November 25-29, are already producing results. The more than 200 delegates who participated in the congress were bishops, priests, sisters, catechists, and lay people from all over the country. Fr. Rodrigues affirms that the meeting was an echo of the continental congress celebrated in Thailand in 2006, and a confirmation of the appeal to mission made by John Paul II with the post-synodal exhortation Ecclesia in Asia in 1999.

The director of PMS Pakistan says: "I’m receiving a number of calls from the delegates of the congress who testified that after the congress, this Advent is a new life and change for them."

Fr. Khalid Rashid, director of the youth committee in Faisalabad, considers the meeting in Karachi an historic occasion for the Pakistani Church, and says: "It was a great formation activity for our youth living in a Muslim dominated country." The young generations are called to an important task, and "the congress offered them a new and rich experience." Fr. Rashid is convinced that this Advent has a different meaning for all the delegates of the congress, "but the story of Jesus should be brought to each and every corner of the country, and youth have to play a key role in this mission. Advent is a unique time to prepare ourselves for this mission."

Interviewed by AsiaNews, Fr. Emmanuel Asi, secretary of the Biblical Commission of Pakistan, who spoke at the congress, recalled that "Jesus was Himself a great story teller and he always taught and preached through stories about God. But Jesus always took characters and plots of His stories from His audiences. That is why people liked and owned those stories, because the stories were their own." In order to maintain the new missionary impulse of the Pakistani Church, Fr. Asi pointed to the necessity of "translating the Gospel into as many local languages as possible."

During the congress, Evarist Pinto, archbishop of Karachi, affirmed: "what is most important during the Advent season is to prepare and purify ourselves to welcome the Jesus in our hearts. So we would be able to come to know who Jesus is and would be able to say that we know Him."

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