Quetta, funeral for Msgr. Victor Gnanapragasam, Omi missionary
by Shafique Khokhar

Of Sri Lankan origin, he had lived in Pakistan for nearly 50 years. Under his leadership the apostolic prefecture of Quetta became an apostolic vicariate and was about to become a diocese. Loved by everyone, he supported the population with educational and charitable works.


Quetta (AsiaNews) The funeral has taken place of the Apostolic Vicar of Quetta, Msgr. Victor Gnanapragasam, who died on 12 December at the age of 80. The cause of death appears to be a heart attack. Msgr. Gnanapragasam was an Omi missionary (Oblates of Mary Immaculate) who, born in Sri Lanka, spent nearly 50 years of his life in Pakistan.

The funeral ceremony was presided over by Card. Joseph Coutts, in the presence of Msgr. Joseph Arshad, Archbishop of Rawalpindi and president of the Episcopal Conference, and of all the bishops of Pakistan. His body was buried in the garden of the cathedral, dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary.

In his homily, Msgr. Arshad recalled the way in which Bishop Victor dedicated himself to the Church and to the people. “As a disciple of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, he fought the good fight, and as a priest and bishop in Pakistan he won many hearts and strengthened the faith of the people. He had a missionary vision and supported the people he was entrusted to care for in everything, making his life an example for many”.

Born in Jaffna (Sri Lanka) to a family of Tamil origin in 1940, Msgr. Victor joined the Omi missionaries, becoming a priest in 1966. In 1973 he arrived in Pakistan, where he worked in Faisalabad, Multan and finally in Baluchistan in Quetta.

In 2001 he was appointed apostolic prefect of Quetta; in 2010, Pope Benedict XVI elevated the prefecture to vicariate and appointed the then Fr. Victor as apostolic vicar and titular bishop of Timida.

Five years ago, when he asked to resign, Pope Francis asked him to continue, until his death two days ago. bishop Gnanapragasam was working to transform the apostolic vicariate into a diocese, equipping the Christian communities with important charitable and educational works. The Baluchistan region, in addition to being marked by deep economic poverty, is also shaken by political and military tensions, bordering on Afghanistan and Iran.

In 2017, terrorist groups attacked a Protestant church. The Pakistani army ordered all churches to close for security reasons. Bishop Victor was firm in keeping churches open, saying that security had to be guaranteed by the state.

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