08/27/2016, 14.57
PAKISTAN
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Archdiocese of Lahore gets a record five new priests

by Kamran Chaudhry

The ordination ceremony took place yesterday in the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in the presence of hundreds of people. This year 18 priests have already been ordained in Pakistan. The rise of terrorism, beginning with the attacks of 11 September 2001 in the United States, "increased the local vocations."

Lahore (AsiaNews) – The Archdiocese of Lahore has made a record of ordinations. Yesterday in the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, the ordination ceremony for five deacons took place in the presence of hundreds of faithful and the relatives of the new priests.

Mgr Sebastian Shah, archbishop of Lahore, told AsiaNews that the group of priests is the largest since 1994. "So far we had only had one or two priests (a year). Five priests are really a record."

This year, a total of 21 priestly ordinations took place in Pakistan, three next October in the Archdiocese of Karachi.

Fr Joseph Louis, a former executive secretary of Caritas Lahore, believes that the rise of terrorism since the attacks on 11 September 2001 in the United States has "increased local vocations."

"People are getting closer to faith. They feel that they must do something because the rulers do not give hope. People attend church more because there is a great thirst for comfort and spiritual knowledge."

"Today we reap the fruit of the work done in previous years,” he said referring to the new ordinations.

During the ceremony, Mgr Shah warned the newly ordained of the challenges that await them.

"First, you have to think about whether the priesthood was the right choice. Be careful about the obsession of money because there is no remedy to it. Do not affiliate yourself to one person, family, parish, project or institution. The only authority of priesthood is service to others, and being humble is the first standard."

The five ordained priests celebrate thanksgiving Masses in their respective hometowns. One of them is Fr Imtiaz Nishan, a native of the village of Easson, in Sheikhupura District (near Lahore).

After a licentiate in philosophy, he taught at the Major Seminary of Saint Francis Xavier in Lahore for six months.

“Our Christian community is behind in education and thus does not get enough opportunities,” he said about the tasks ahead of him. “I plan to help school dropouts and serve in poor Christian slums.”

“Also many Catholics are distracted by pastors of mushroom churches. People need spiritual strength against increasing materialism”, he added.

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