Qualified priests, parishes top priorities for Lahore Archbishop7:56 PM, October 9, 2017
Pakistan:Franciscan bishop has been focusing on increasing the number of parishes and reaching out to Catholics.
Lahore Archdiocese made history on Sept. 7 with the ordination of seven deacons. That’s the largest number of ordinations at a single Mass in the oldest diocese in Pakistan.
But Archbishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore has bigger plans.
"As the number of vocations increase every year in the minor seminary, we are looking beyond our diocese and trying to produce priests for national needs. Students have been recently sent to Rome to study philosophy, scripture, theology and canon law," he told ucanews.com.
Ever since his appointment as the archbishop of Lahore in 2013, the 59-year-old Franciscan has been focusing on increasing the number of parishes and reaching out to Catholics who number 377,000 in this eastern Pakistani archdiocese.
Two new parishes were added during five-year diocesan plan of 2011-2016. A third is to be started soon.
Established as the Vicariate Apostolic of Punjab in 1880, Lahore Archdiocese now has 29 parishes, more than 200 chapels and churches, and nearly 300 catechists. It also houses 31 houses of formation — the largest number in the country.
"The seed of faith kept growing and Lahore Archdiocese gave birth to the Islamabad-Rawalpindi Diocese and Multan Diocese," said the archbishop who led a trip of 15 priests to India last year to observe 130 years since Lahore first became a diocese.
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Often called the "grandmother diocese" for the entire Punjab province, its boundaries underwent several changes, losing territory to dioceses that are now in India.
Archbishop is also due to address a meeting on ecumenical and interreligious dialogue organized by the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conference to be held in Bangkok from Oct. 16-10.
As a member of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue he will speak on a program where students from 10 Catholic schools and an Islamic madrassa were brought together for talks. The gathering was to mark International Peace Day on Sept. 21 and was organized by the National Commission for Inter-religious Dialogue and Ecumenism.
"That’s the first time we reached out to a madrassa," the archbishop said. "The church commission is usually afraid to collaborate with them. Caritas Pakistan’s peace program is limited to missionary schools,” he said.
Archbishop Shaw was born in 1957 and ordained a priest for the Order of Frias Minor at the age of 34. In 2009 he was made auxiliary bishop of Lahore and headed the archdiocese in 2013.
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