A Church for a Diocese in Pakistan

Project Code: 328-08-19

The Parish of the Immaculate Conception in Toba Tek Singh in the Diocese of Faisalabad serves no fewer than 75 villages, with some 2,700 Catholic families. Many of the Christian village dwellers here are day laborers or street sweepers, while the women are employed in menial tasks as household servants. Very few of them can afford to send their children to school, and Christians in Pakistan in general have very little possibility of improving their position in society.

In many parts of Pakistan, rural society is still governed by a feudal system akin to the Middle Ages. Large Muslim landowners still treat their workers like slaves, and their commands must be unconditionally obeyed by the workers. It is these landlords and the factory owners who possess the real power in the country. Through corruption they have the police, the courts, even the entire legal system in their pockets. If they should abuse the wife or daughter of one of their servants, there is nothing these servants can do except remain silent.

Equally disturbing is the fact that when the workers become indebted, the entire family is left utterly at the mercy of the landlord. All it takes is an illness; then the laborer has to borrow money from his master, who demands A Church for a Diocese in Pakistansuch exorbitant interest in return that, without outside help, the family can never again escape from this financial dependency, and the debt is simply passed on from generation to generation. So the children are to all intents born into slavery.

In the same way, workers in brick factories are utterly at the mercy of their employers. They have to make the bricks with their own bare hands and then leave them in the sun to dry. If it should rain before the clay bricks have been fired in the ovens, whose tall chimneys dot the landscape, then the bricks are ruined and all their work is in vain. More often than not the factory owner simply says, “What can I do if it rains?” and refuses to pay the workers.

One of these villages in the Parish is Pertabpur Chak 246 (many villages are numbered in this way). It is 40 miles from the parish center and there are close to 300 Catholics living here. They draw great consolation from their faith. Until now, Holy Mass, prayer meetings and other devotions have been held in the open air, beneath a tarpaulin roof. But now their parish priest wants to build a permanent church here. Not only would a solid building offer better protection against the weather than a flimsy tarpaulin roof, it would also afford the people greater security—for Christians in Pakistan have to be constantly on the alert for attacks by extremists.

At the same time, a proper physical structure would help to distinguish the Catholic worshippers from the myriads of sects, whose preachers also seek new adherents by preaching in the open air. A solid and permanent church would make it clearer to the Catholic faithful where the Masses and other gatherings of the Church are being held. It could also serve in the future as the place where for Sunday school and the religious instruction of children.

ACN is proposing to help with a contribution of $9,400. Will you give so that these poor Catholics can have a proper church in Pakistan?


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