The Spiritan presence in Pakistan dates from December 1977. From that time to now 25 Spiritans from 7 different countries have lived and worked here. Confreres from Ireland, England France, Nigeria, Uganda, Mauritius, Madagascar, have served the church in Pakistan.We have worked in 2 provinces, Punjab and Sindh, and in 2 dioceses, Multan and Hyderabad. At present, we are working in Hyderabad diocese, Sindh province, in the town of Mirpur khas. There are 3 Spiritans here at present. We will be boosted to 4 by October 3rd. and by November and then some months later we will increase again. Including new appointments Ireland, Uganda, Madagascar and France are represented in the group.
The experience of internationality has been I feel a very positive one.It is a blessing to have a mixture of nationalities and continents. When there have been clashes in the group, it has been due to personality clashes and different approaches in work.Generally, we have tended to support each other well on a personal level and in fulfilling our commitments.One weakness has been that whereas individually confreres have gone deep in their spiritual journeys, we have not been as good in together deepening the spirituality of the group in a conscious way.
I have for many years now, said that it is easy to be a Spiritan in Pakistan.In the three places that we have worked, we encounter every day people who are marginalized economically, socially and religiously. We have lived and worked among Bhils and punjabi christians for 40 years. Each and every confrere who has come has shown great commitment to and love and care for the people.
The church in Pakistan has been described as a church of survival. I know from the inside what it means to be a part of a struggling minority.To feel their pain and joys is an evangelical blessing for us.
All the confreres have contributed a great deal in grass roots involvement in the the three places we have worked. A lot of work has been done in terms of building faith communities, catechesis, health work, developing a cooperative, education, training for transformation workshops etc. Some confreres have not only worked at a local level but have contributed to church life on a national level. I note in particular the writings of John O’Brien ,which offer something unique and much needed, and will stand the test of time.
A notable feature of our life and work has been our collaboration with lay people and religious. We shared a common commitment to people. At present in our community there is a Pakistani diocesan priest. We live and work together. The experience is very positive.
As regards the future, we have no great plans; we aim to continue accompanying the Bhils and Punjabi Christians. The younger confreres are taking up the challenge and will shape the future. They are showing great care for the people faith and sanity.They have won the trust of the local community and the diocese.
Featured photo: John O’Brien celebrating Mass during the 2004 Chapter, at Torre d’Aguilha.