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Forty years of Marist life in Pakistan

19/10/2006: Pakistan

It is obvious that 9/11 is going to remain in the minds of many people for a long time to come. It has become a powerful symbol of terror, death and destruction, and the ability of the human spirit to rise above such disasters. The Marists of the Sri Lanka Province, and particularly those working in Pakistan, have another reason for remembering this date and honouring it.

On the 11thy September, 1966, forty years ago, Brother Remigius made a rather tentative approach to the Bishop’s House in Rawalpindi, announcing himself as the Marist Brother who had come to begin the Marist Mission in Pakistan. He was soon followed by Brothers Patrick Faulkner and Martin Connell from Australia and from Spain. After some preliminary teaching in Burn Hall in Abbottabad, the Brothers took up their main work at St. Mary’s, Peshawar Cantt. and St. John’s, Peshawar City. So began forty years of continuous work for the Church in Pakistan, a mission that saw many Sri Lankan Brothers working in Peshawar and Rawalpindi, and a sprinkling of Brothers from Australia and New Zealand, America and Ireland.

It is a great source of joy for Brother Remi, that redoubtable missioner, to see this Marist work expand over more recent times. There has been the foundation in Sargodha, now a flourishing boys’ primary and secondary school. Three years ago, the Brothers took over the St. Joseph’s Technical Institute in Faisalabad, and now have the Pre-Novitiate Formation House next door. All of these have been influenced by Remi’s presence.

It has been a forty years with the ups and downs, the successes and disappointments of any such mission, but it is a mission developing a spirit of hope for the future as the flow of vocations to the Brothers’ life grows. We have much to be grateful for particularly the dream of Brother Paul Ambrose and the extraordinary work of Br. Remi and the Brothers who have served this mission over the years.

Recent progress in Pakistan

In February of this year, the Pakistan Sector rejoiced as the new Pre-Novitiate Formation House became a reality and we moved into it from the adjacent Hostel. Such material advances and blessings are a cause of great happiness for us here in this little corner of our Marist world.

But, there are deeper reasons for the satisfaction and joy that we are experiencing. The return of Br. Paul Bhatti from the Marist Formation Course in Kenya during the summer and his move into the Formation Team at Faisalabad is a great boost for our Sector. We welcome Paul and promise him the support of our prayer as he moves into this important ministry.

Another cause of joy and a sign of God’s blessings was the recent induction of our new Postulants and Novices when the programme continued after the summer break. On Sunday 17th September, we gathered for a prayer Service in our Chapel and in the presence of Brother Shanthi, the Sector Superior, six young men took the next step in their journey to full Marist Brotherhood. Our new Postulants are – Kashif Tanveer from Mianwali and Nadeem Francis from Rehimyar Khan. And our new Aspirants - Amjad Saleem from Karachi, Nasir Sohail from Summandri, Naveed Bhatti from Lahore, and Shahzad Zaffar from Okara.

Following the Induction of these young men, a celebratory meal was enjoyed after which Br. Shanthi returned to his community at Sargodha.

We also have in the Formation community, four Candidates completing full secondary education. Anthony Romeil (Faisalabad); Ijaz Gill (Sariwal); Shakeeb Ulfat (Okara), and Stephen (Sargodha).

We thank God for this continuing sign of His blessings on our Pakistan Marist community.

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