Three Columban Seminarians Appointed to Pakistan

Jan 24, 2024

Three Columban seminarians have been appointed to Pakistan for their First Missionary Experience (FMA). They will live there for two years from 1 August 2024 – 31 May 2026. The seminarians are from the Philippines, Myanmar and Korea, according to Fr Liam O’Callaghan, Columban Mission Unit Coordinator in Pakistan.

Currently eight Columbans from four different countries: New Zealand, Fiji, Philippines and Ireland, serve in Pakistan. The group is made up of one lay missionary and seven ordained missionaries.

The seminarians “will make our group even more diverse,” according to Fr Liam.

“Our priority areas of work are indigenous people’s ministry, justice and peace, ecological work and inter-faith relations. We have taken responsibility for opening a new parish in Hyderabad diocese, in which two young Filipino Columbans, Fr Louie Ybanez and Fr Jerry Lohera, will work in. All parishioners are from the Parkari Kohli indigenous community. It has taken some effort to get it established but now it is functioning well,” Fr Liam explained in his most recent newsletter.

The first group of six Columbans to serve in Pakistan: – (l-r) Frs Paul Goddard (RIP), Pat McCaffrey (RIP), Tom O’Reilly, Pat McInerney, Jim Fleming and in front Robert McCulloch.

Forty-five years ago in January 1979, the first Columbans arrived in Pakistan. They worked in Lahore diocese initially and in 1983 a decision was taken to work also in Hyderabad diocese and in particular to work in the tribal ministry, primarily with people of the Parkari Kohli indigenous group.

The Columbans left Lahore Archdiocese in 2014 and now all work in Sindh, mainly in Hyderabad diocese, with one member in Karachi archdiocese.

Just 1.6 percent of people in this predominantly Muslim country of an estimated 203 million people are Christian.

In Pakistan many Muslims have hardly even met a Christian and certainly do not know anything about the Christian faith. Prejudice between Muslims and Christians is common due to the lack of opportunity to engage with each other.

Elsewhere in his newsletter, Fr Liam O’Callaghan explains that Columban co-worker, Danish Yakoob, and he have been involved in rehabilitation work in the aftermath of the terrible flooding of 2022.

“Since February, we have built 110 one-roomed shelters for families whose house were destroyed in the flooding. They are flood resistant, low cost one room shelters using materials – mud bricks, clay, bamboo, timber, straw – that are compatible with indigenous construction techniques and minimise adverse environmental impacts and. This housing project is made possible by a donation from Columbans in the Oceania Region.”

“While primarily being involved in raising awareness on climate change and building climate resilience in local groups and institutions in recent years, we have been more involved in dealing with the actual effects of climate change on poor communities especially through the housing project and will be for the foreseeable future.”

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