In 2018, the Catholic Church organised hundreds of prayers, seminars, and conferences across the country. At least 50,000 people received their First Communion.
Lahore (AsiaNews) – The Year the local Church dedicated to the Eucharist in Pakistan came to a close with a grand Mass attended by more than 600 people from every diocese.
The bishops inaugurated the Year on 25 November 2017 in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Karachi, under the auspices of Pope Francis who asked the Catholic community to "offer an even stronger testimony of the presence of the Lord in Pakistan".
This period of "spiritual growth and inner renewal" ended on 24 November, eve of the feast day of Christ the King. The closing ceremony was held in Lahore’s Sacred Heart Cathedral, with the liturgy concelebrated by two bishops and 30 priests.
"The meaning of the Eucharist lies in realising that we are the chosen ones, and thus must serve others,” said Mgr Benny Mario Travas, bishop of Multan and president of the Liturgical Commission of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Pakistan. “The sacrament unites us. Become part of this movement and invite other as well!”
Hundreds of prayers, seminars and conferences were organised across the country, guided by this year’s theme: ‘I am the bread of life’ (Jn 6:35).
At least 50,000 people received their First Communion, said Fr Asif John, executive secretary of the national team and vicar general of the Diocese of Islamabad-Rawalpindi.
"In the Archdiocese of Lahore, 10,000 faithful from eight districts received their first Holy Communion,” Fr John said. “Diocesan teams headed by priests worked hard to help the faithful refocus on this sacrament as the centre of their lives.”
"We reached every parish,” he added. “Some 30 topics were selected for the seminars. Workshops were especially held at Catholic shrines and testimonies were heard to enrich the faith of the religious minority. Speakers were instructed to focus on the social, spiritual and human aspects of the Eucharist."
However, Fr Emmanuel Asi, executive secretary of the Catholic Bible Commission Pakistan, sees a decline in the sanctity of the sacrament.
“The justice aspect of the Eucharist is still missing,” he explained, whilst “socialising is increasing. Perhaps the Church is too shy to step outside and ensure true participation of the laity."