Karachi (AsiaNews) - Books preserve "human history". Sharing them is a precious gift by which knowledge is passed on, this according to Fr Pascal Paulus, vice prior provincial of the Dominican Order in Karachi. He was referring to a new library that opened in the city named after Fr Chrys McVey, a US-born friar and missionary who died suddenly in 2009 after 40 years in Pakistan.
"If books did not exist we would not be able to know the history of our ancestors, prophets, saints and champions of the faith," the religious said during the inauguration ceremony in late June.
Speaking about Fr McVey, he stressed that he was a "model brother," a "true Dominican," and an "intellectual endowed with many gifts and talents" who still lives in memory for his broad work on behalf of the "faithful in Pakistan and the Universal Church".
Following the blessing of the library, the inauguration saw the proverbial cutting of the ribbon in the presence of many religious, especially Dominican, but also from other orders, seminarians and simple believers.
Fr Pascal, along with his brethren and young people from the city, recited the thanksgiving prayer. He was followed by Fr Younas Shahzad, a top teacher well liked by the novices. "The library is a sacred place," he said. "Like lungs that bring fresh air to the organism, libraries play a crucial role in strengthening the spirit."
Before the ceremony ended with hymns dedicated to Saint Dominic, the friars showed a photographic display of the building's various stages of construction. People were thus able to see the old library as well as the last stage in the process with builder Gulnaz K. Alam. The latter gave thanks to God for giving him "the opportunity to render this service" during which he received "many blessings."
Born in New Jersey (US) in 1933 not far from the Atlantic Ocean, Fr Chrys McVey (pictured) spent more than half of his life in the deserts of Pakistan. The Dominican friar used to say that he began his "educational journey" in the desert.
As a novice, priest, pastoral director and professor, Fr McVey promoted various ways to proclaim the Word of God and bear witness to the Gospel.
He was the first Dominican superior for the Pakistan sub-province, following the latter's creation.
He was eventually recalled to Rome where he worked for six years in the order's general council. He contributed to many books and worked for various publications, writing in-depth analyses about Pakistan until his death, which came on 29 June 2009 in Washington.
For many, he embodied the Dominican missionary spirit, which was instrumental in opening the field of theological debate with Islam and many Muslim scholars in Pakistan.