The bishop of Faisalabad tells AsiaNews about his first meeting with the founder of the Missionaries of Charity. "I was about to be ordained priest, and was thrilled. She told that, that was ‘nice, but not enough. The world needs good priests'." Muslims respect her, an example for the world.
Faisalabad (AsiaNews) – “Ok, you are becoming a priest but remember: We do not need only priests, we need good priests,” Mother Teresa told Joseph Arshad, a week before he was ordained. Today that young priest is the bishop of Faisalabad.
Speaking to AsiaNews, he remembers the contribution the future saint made to his life and to Pakistan. Her first trip to the Islamic Republic took place in 1991. "It was a few days before the ordination, and I had the pleasure and honour of sharing with her the excitement of what was about to happen to me.”
“From her small bag she pulled out a small statue of the Virgin and gave it to me, along with the advice that I tried to apply my whole life. "
During the trip to Pakistan, Mother Teresa she visited the Saint Mary Seminary in Lahore. She also opened a ‘Home of Love’ for the Missionaries of Charity and held a meeting with a huge crowd of faithful in St Patrick's Cathedral in Karachi.
Muslims loved her too, Mgr Arshad said. "Our Muslim brothers and sisters have always honoured her. They have come to describe the country’s major philanthropists as 'Mother Teresas of Pakistan'. One example is Abdul Sattar Edhi,” a well-known activist, who died last July in Karachi after a life spent helping the poor and the afflicted.
This kind of recognition and love is not accidental. "Mother Teresa taught us the importance of serving humanity and spent her life in doing so, as a living example and spur for all of us. She showed that if you say you love God, then you must love his people without compromise. That's whys she brought forward the 'calling within a calling' and founded her own congregation."
The bishop was the first Pakistani to be called to the diplomatic service of the Holy See. "In my travels abroad, I always sought out the convents and homes of the Missionaries of Charity. I tried to spend some free time with them because that time has always given me peace. It made me feel closer to God."
After the canonisation ceremony, on 4 September in St Peter's Square, Mgr Arshad will meet the Missionaries who work in his diocese. On 11 September, a solemn Mass in honour of the new saint will be held in Faisalabad’s Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul.