04/18/2024, 15.01
Send to a friend

Christian witness and the role of women: The First Steps of the Church in Okara

by Shafique Khokhar

Bishop Indrias Rehmat chose Fr Abid Tanvir, former diocese vicar general, as parish priest. Two catechists were also appointed to work with him. Admired and visited by Muslims, the church named after Saint Anthony was inaugurated last year. The bishop urged the faithful “to make this beautiful church stronger in spirituality.”

Okara (AsiaNews) – Inaugurated with a day of celebration last June, the new St Anthony’s Catholic Church, Okara district, south-east of Lahore, now has a new parish priest and a working group dedicated to the pastoral care of the community.

Bishop Rehmat chose Fr Abid Tanvir, former vicar general of the Diocese of Faisalabad, to replace Fr Tahir Aziz who first took on the new place of worship, working to improve the lot of some 500 Catholic families in the village of Antoniabad.

Christians are not the only ones to be drawn to this church, as many local Muslims like to visit the building to admire its beauty.

In addition to the parish priest, the bishop appointed two catechists, Babu Palous Boota and Babu Gulfam Nawab, who together with Fr Tanvir are called to boost the pastoral mission and nurture the community’s faith and spirit.

Hundreds of people welcomed with joy the appointments, offering the new parish priest and the two catechists their full collaboration. Upon arrival, all three, accompanied by Bishop Rehmat, were greeted with garlands of flowers, gifts, and songs of joy.

Speaking to the faithful, the new parish priest, Fr Abid Tanvir, said he felt "immense happiness" for "the opportunity to serve a Catholic village.” With “four Catholic villages in the Diocese of Faisalabad[*], being parish priest in one of them is a great responsibility."

The priest underlined the “devotion” of the people of Anthoniabad, adding that enhancing the bond between the Church and the faithful was “my priority", as is increasing their numbers and "strengthening them in faith and sacraments.”

The clergyman also emphasised the vital role played by women “in the progress of the church;” for this reason, they must be “more empowered  and spiritual.” To reach this goal, “I assure you of my availability and devotion and need your cooperation for the progress of this church.”

For his part, Bishop Indrias Rehmat of Faisalabad urged the faithful to support the mission of the new parish priest and his aides who are called to "make this beautiful church stronger in spirituality".

“The church is a building," the bishop noted, but “you must make it the house of God. I have known Fr Abid Tanvir for a long time and I have witnessed his fidelity and dedication" as vicar general of the diocese, the prelate explained.

Thus, “I have entrusted him with the burden" of becoming "the new parish priest of this church, to help people become more faithful and rich in spirituality."

St Anthony’s Catholic Church was inaugurated in June 2023, but the first brick was laid back in 2007 thanks to the involvement of the then Bishop Joseph Coutts of Faisalabad, and the parish priest, Fr James Archangelus.

It took 16 years to complete, with contributions from the local community and the Diocese of Faisalabad, as well as a donation of more than 30,000,000 rupees (US$ 108,000) from the Papal Foundation, a United States-based organisation that funds projects involving the Catholic Church around the world.

[*] Francisabad, Khushpur, Chak#6 Okara, and Chak#10 Okara.

Send to a friend
Printable version
See also
Bishop of Faisalabad: Unjust laws and policies do not ensure equality in the country
11/08/2020 16:31
The Diocese of Faisalabad prays for peace in the Middle East
09/11/2023 16:09
Faisalabad mourns Fr Amato after almost 60 years of mission
03/05/2021 15:11
National Commission for Women asks for 'immediate action' in the nun rape case in Kerala
07/02/2019 17:28
Faisalabad: inauguration of a new church dedicated to Saint Anthony
21/06/2023 13:18


Subscribe to Asia News updates or change your preferences

Subscribe now
“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”