Franciscans in Pakistan marks 75 years of mission

The missionaries from the Netherlands came to Karachi in 1934 and opened their friary six years later.

August 21 2014, 1:24 PM
Franciscans in Pakistan marks 75 years of mission
The Observant Franciscans of Karachi's Porziuncola friary celebrate their community's 75th anniversary.

The Franciscan friary in Karachi celebrated its platinum jubilee earlier this month on the feast of Our Lady of the Angels of Porziuncola, an important observance in their tradition.

During the August 2 thanksgiving Mass for the 75th anniversary of the friary, Archbishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore reflected on the charity to which the friary has witnessed with its service and faith formation over the years.

He had joined the Order of Friars Minor in 1989, and referred to the friary as a “mother house”, saying, “the friary has loved us first, and we have grown in the bosom of this friary … this love should not be contained and remain with us only, but is meant to be shared with all those around us.”

“Keep alive the uniqueness of our Franciscan identity,” he exhorted the friars. “Friars Minor is our identity, and we must retain this, and let it remain that way” in the service of the Church.

Karachi's Porziuncola friary is home to Observant Franciscans serving in the city. The missionaries from the Netherlands came to Karachi in 1934 and opened their friary six years later.

The friary's guardian, Father Younis Hussain, welcomed Archbishop Shaw, Archbishop Joseph Coutts of Karachi, members of other religious orders and local lay faithful to the friary's chapel for the jubilee Mass.

Following the Mass, a dole of doves was released to extend a message of peace and harmony, and balloons were released symbolizing the joy of the jubilee celebration.

Bishop Coutts recalled, “When the foundation stone of the friary was laid, Pakistan was not yet independent. The mission to Sindh and Balochistan was run from Bombay. Karachi was not yet a diocese, and therefore the bishop came from Lahore to bless the Porziuncola friary.”

He described the friary as the “first theological institute in Pakistan,” adding that it has “contributed since the very beginning to the formation of the local clergy.”

Joining the Porziuncola community in their jubilee celebration were the Franciscan Sisters of the Missionaries of Mary, the Franciscan Sisters of Christ the King, the Franciscan Sisters of the Heart of Jesus, the Missionaries of Charity, Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena and the Albertine Franciscans.

Karachi's Porziuncola friary is named for the parish church, originally built in the fourth century, which was rebuilt by St. Francis of Assisi in obedience to Christ's command to “rebuild my church.” August 2 is observed as the dedication of the Porziuncola, and is the occasion of a plenary indulgence.

Source: CNA/EWTN News