A Car for a Parish in Pakistan
Project Code: 328-01-29
Four years ago, the town of Gojra in the Diocese of Faisalabad was in the news for all the wrong reasons. It all started so peacefully. On July 30, 2009, there was a wedding in a village close to the town of Gorja. With drums, the bridegroom was welcomed outside the house of the bride. Christian children tore up newspapers and a few old books in order to make confetti out of them. It was all supposed to be a joyful feast.
But it turned out quite differently. For among the old paper there were some pages with verses of the Qur’an on them. A few Muslims saw this and just a little later the mullah announced over the mosque loudspeakers to the whole village that the Qur’an had been desecrated. An enraged mob went on the rampage, burning down 80 Christian houses and two small Protestant churches.
The next day the violence spilled over into Gojra itself, even though absolutely nothing had happened there. Some 3,000 enraged Muslim fanatics stormed the Christian quarter, armed with staves and guns. They burnt down 105 Christian houses. This time there were fatalities as well: one family of eight were locked in their house and burnt alive. According to the bishop at the time, Bishop Joseph Coutts, who is now Archbishop of Karachi, the people behind the attacks were a militant islamist group whose avowed aim is to purge Pakistan of all Christians. "At least the government has rebuilt the burnt-down houses," he remarks. And he adds another positive detail: "Two years later, two mullahs actually came and apologized for the attacks." One of them even wrote a poem about it.
But the fact that the situation is calm again at present and that no further attacks have occurred is partly due to the strong police presence. The parish house, the church and the convent of the Sisters are still under police protection.
Despite these events, the Catholics of the Parish of the Sacred Heart of Jesus continue to live their faith with great fervor. Just recently, at the beginning of September, they held a great feast to welcome the statue of the Infant Jesus of Prague into their parish. More than 300 children and young people took part in the celebrations, together with numerous adults and eight priests. First the statue of the Child Jesus was carried in a great procession to the church, where it was set up in a place of honor. The children performed scenes from the childhood of Jesus and sang hymns and danced in welcome. There was a catechesis on the Year of Faith, and many of the faithful gave testimony of the wonderful things they had experienced, thanks to the presence of the Child Jesus in their life. The veneration of the Infant Jesus of Prague has been spreading increasingly in Pakistan in recent years, and Gojra is the second city in this country where a copy of the world-famous image has been formally consecrated.
However, the parish covers a vast area and the priests have their work cut out for them trying to cope. Father Younis Inayat ministers to a large area within the parish and is at the same time the head of a Catholic school. Until now he has only had a moped to use for travel, and he sometimes has to cover 45 miles or more to reach the villages in his pastoral area. In addition to the difficulties of travelling long distances on a moped, it can be dangerous in the evenings and at night, since there are frequent attacks on travelers.
We would like to help him with $7,500 so that he can buy a car to make traveling easier, faster and safer. Will you give so that Father Inayat can better serve the faithful in the many remote and inaccessible villages of Pakistan?
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