Karachi (AsiaNews) - "I was impressed with the three values of the Franciscans: poverty, chastity and obedience", says 27 year old Christian Asif Shafique, a civil engineer and physical therapist speaking to AsiaNews about his encounter with the Order and the desire to respond to the call to the priesthood. He recently participated in a day of vocation promotion, organized by the Franciscans in the Archdiocese of Karachi, along with 28 other young people from 22 different parishes. "My family," added the future priest, "is finding it difficult in the current economic crisis, but accepted my decision with great joy." Shafiq adds a note of pride that his parents "have given me their blessing and made the best wishes for my future consecrated life".
At the end of vocations day, the 27 year-old Pakistani Christian (pictured, in white, middle) says that he was "impressed" by the Franciscan values of "chastity, poverty and obedience," which he observe over the years when he accompanied his father - a doctor - during visits to the headquarters of the Order to ensure the health of men. In the days spent alongside the monks, the young man tells AsiaNews, "I discovered my vocation to the Franciscan life." "The Franciscans attention to the unconditional care for and love of people - Shafiq adds - convinced me to dedicate my life to others." He hopes to serve the sick and needy in the footsteps of St. Francis d 'Assisi.
Young men of different ages and skills took part in the vocational day promoted in Karachi, united by the desire to discover the meaning of a consecrated life. According to Fr. Victor Savera, a young Franciscan, the event was attended by "young Catholics, non Catholics, nurses, workers, students and civil engineers." The objective of the meeting, added the priest, is to "overcome the shortage of vocations among young Pakistanis", dedicating specific programs targeted at them and "encouraging them to participate in the initiatives of the church", as well as "to use modern technology to bring them closer to Christian faith. "
Fr. Victor explains that "the financial crisis, the lack of guidance, media and social networks" are the main challenge for "new vocations" and does not hide his disappointment at the average of two new ordinations each year. "The leadership of the Church" he added "needs to focus its efforts on this point."
At present there are "only" 45 Franciscans throughout Pakistan. Shafiq will be joining them from next September and is currently engaged in studying the life and teachings of St. Francis. "I want to be strong - concludes the novice - in prayer and develop a deeper experience of spirituality."