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Karachi – “There is an urgent need to reach our parish faithful, stay in contact with them, pray with them and make them feel that the Church cares for them and is close to them in every need or difficulty. In fact, the churches and chapels of my parish are full on Sundays but only ten percent of the total number of Catholics in the area participate. We must also look and think of all the others: this is why the lay missionaries will help us”: with these words Fr. Arthur Charles, parish priest in the Church of St. Anthony in Karachi, reports to Fides that he has conferred the solemn missionary mandate on 19 lay faithful, including 5 women, involving them as pastoral workers in the local Church.
Fr. Arthur Charles, one of the senior priests of the Archdiocese of Karachi, took care of the formation of these laity for eight months in the light of the fundamental contents of the Catholic faith and prepared them by organizing study sessions of the Sacred Scriptures, of the Catechism of Catholic Church, of the Sacraments and of the Pastoral care. Recounting this experience, he tells Fides: “In our territory the parishes have immense extension and the priests and catechists need the help of other pastoral workers because we often fail to reach all our parishioners, in the suburbs and in the villages. This is why I came up with the idea of involving lay pastoral workers”.
Speaking of the responsibilities of pastoral workers, Fr. Charles remarks: “Each pastoral worker has decided to dedicate two hours every day to home visits. A short prayer time is requested with each family, 15 to 20 minutes, in which the Gospel is read and prayed for the family. Families can freely make an offer. Pastoral workers, then, seeing the local situations, can report particularly needy families to the parish priest so that they can help them with special charitable initiatives”.
Fr. Arthur Charles observes: “There are many areas in our parishes where there are several Protestant and Pentecostal pastors who, with their preaching, can distance our families from the Catholic faith. We hope that, thanks to the visit of our pastoral workers in the most distant areas, our faithful will be able to take root and strengthen themselves in faith, hope and charity”. The parish priest adds: “For the next four months I will personally accompany the pastoral workers and meet them to listen to their experiences and the challenges they encounter, I will guide them and continue to take care of their formation”. “I hope that in the future – he concludes – through this initiative we will have good candidates to carry out the ministry of Catechists and, thanks to the good works of these pastoral workers, it will also open the way for the ministry of married acolytes and deacons in the Church in Pakistan” .