Mass Stipends for Priests in Pakistan
Around the world, there are over 400,000 Catholic priests who celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, in which the bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of Christ. Yet while in this they posess the most precious treasure it is possible to imagine, nonetheless so many of them themselves live in great material poverty. Many are elderly and infirm, and some can scarcely still physically raise their hands to God so that the Sacrifice of Christ can heal and sanctify the world. Others have to travel long distances, working tirelessly to bring God and His Good News to their fellow men and women.
All this they do simply for the love of God, even without any salary or financial remuneration. In order to support these priests in their service, and as an expression of their gratitude, the Catholic faithful have since the earliest Christian times given them Mass offerings. They have asked the priest to celebrate Holy Mass for a particular intention and in return given him money or other small gifts in kind.
In no sense is this a matter of "paying" for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which would be impossible in any case. Rather it is a way of showing that we, as Christians, are their sisters and brothers in Christ and wish to thank and support those who shrink from no sacrifice or difficulty to bring Christ to us. And for many priests around the world, these Mass offerings are an indispensable means of support for their life and ministry.
Mass offerings are particularly important for those priests teaching in seminaries, training the future shepherds of the Church and providing them not only with a solid academic formation but also with human and spiritual support. In many of the developing countries, such priests earn very little and are often almost completely dependent on Mass stipends from abroad since they do not have a parish to minister to and therefore lack even the support, however modest, of the ordinary Catholic faithful.
Such is the case in Pakistan, for example, where Christians make up only a small and beleaguered minority. In the 18 million-strong city of Karachi, which is racked by violence, there are 40 young men currently studying for the priesthood at the seminary of Christ the King. Three of the priests teaching at this seminary devote themselves full-time to the formation of these future priests and thus have no parish to support them.
The rector of the seminary, Father Benjamin Shazad, once again turned to ACN to ask for Mass stipends, especially for the support of these priests. Thanks to the generosity of our benefactors, we were able to help him with a contribution of $3,300, so that these priests can continue to do God’s work.
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With picture of Mass in the Diocese of Karachi, Pakistan (© Magdalena Wolnik)