Lahore (AsiaNews) - In their daily mission, priests
must work to renew the communion among the faithful in Pakistan, said Fr
Benjamin Joseph. They must also strengthen ties within basic communities,
promote education as a privileged path for progress and improved living
conditions as well as boost cooperation between themselves and catechists so as
to improve the teaching of the Christian religion. Ordained on 8 January 1967,
Fr Joseph is the first locally-born priest in the Archdiocese of Lahore. Over
the years, he has served in various parishes, educational facilities and communities
Fr Benjamin (pictured,
in the middle) is convinced of the importance of basic ecclesial communities,
which must be able to help each other and contribute to the development of the
faith and human person. For this purpose, he has urged educational institutions
and the Education Board to listen to people and contribute to their
development. At the same time, he would like to see catechists receive better
training since they have to work closely with priests. Only this can lead to successful
During the many years of his mission, Fr Benjamin
Joseph was able to see directly the country's changes and Christianity's impact
on Pakistan where believers are but a tiny minority, often persecuted, compared
to the Muslim majority.
The clergyman spent his first years as a priest in Kasur.
Here, he experienced a sense of isolation vis-à-vis foreign missionaries,
partly due to a language barrier. Later, this limitation proved to be an advantage
because he came to act as a language mediator and got involved in legal issues
with police and the courts.
Since the start, he has encouraged the participation
of the laity in the life of the Church, which is crucial for the expansion of
Since he became a priest, he has taught, worked on the
development of schools and other educational facilities, and organised youth
summer camps (the first in 1976 in Punjab) in order to promote communion and
During the month of May, which is dedicated to Our
Lady, he has led pilgrims on several occasions to the Marian shrine of Mariamabad.