12/10/2011, 00.00
PAKISTAN
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Faisalabad, Catholics celebrate the inauguration of the church of St. Albert

by Shafique Khokhar
The place of worship is located in a poor area of the city, hit by floods last year. The plot of land was donated by an elderly couple and filled in with private donations. At the first Mass, celebrated by the Dominicans, at least 600 people participated, with "emotion and reflection".
Faisalabad (AsiaNews) - Wreaths of flowers, swarms of rose petals, fireworks and drum rolls marked the inauguration of St. Albert's Catholic Church, built in the poor neighborhood of Julius Salik Town (better known as J-Salik), in the parish of Holy Rosary in Faisalabad, Punjab province. In the late afternoon of November 23, at least 600 Pakistani Catholics of the area gathered to attend, with emotion and recollection, the ribbon cutting ceremony, followed by a Mass inside the building, built on a plot of land donated by an elderly couple. Presiding over the church service was a delegation of Dominican friars - Fr. Pascal Paulus, Fr. Rehmat Raja, Fr. Iftikhar Moon, Fr. Patrick Peter - along with nuns of the same order, the Missionaries of Charity, catechists and laymen.

Fr. Pascal Paulus, vice-provincial of the Dominicans, offered a prayer before the ribbon cutting ceremony, then made his entrance into the church followed by the faithful. The building's interior was decorated with colored lights and flowers, and those present recounted that it was "exciting" to see the devotion and participation of the Catholic community throughout the Mass. The priest recalled the devastating floods of last year and the the faithful's request, during one of his many visits, to be able to have a church to pray in. "This early promise", said Fr. Pascal, "was maintained with the help of the grace of God." He recalled the figure of St. Albert, who spread "throughout his life the message of truth" and that is why "we have dedicated to him" the building.

One of his brothers in religion, Fr. Rehmat Raja, offered a parallel between "the people of Israel who praised Solomon for the construction of the great temple", as the faithful of j-Salik Town do today, and hopes that "God may grant even more blessings." The parish priest, Fr. Iftikhar Moon, added that "the people who love God never fear but joyfully sacrifice their belongings for the mission of God." He warned the faithful, reminding them that "now it is the responsibility of the Catholic community to attend prayer services in the church regularly to quench thier spiritual thirst."

Finally, Fr. Patrick Peter expressed his sincere thanks to Baba Emmanuel and Hanifa Bibi, an elderly couple, who donated their piece of land for the construction of the church. At the center there was a deep pit, but a collection taken up among the faithful allowed to the well to be filled in and the construction of the church to begin. "This, too," said the priest, "is an example of teamwork and dedication to Christianity."

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