Lahore, Pakistan, 18 June 2016 -- ‘Lord you know everything you know that I love you’
I was born in Chak No, 36 S.B. Sargodha. A city is situated in the province of Punjab. My Fathers name is Lal Bernad and mothers name is Rozi Bibi and we are 9 siblings, myself being the fifth in the family. I was baptized in the same village in the parish Church of St. Joseph the Worker.
I felt a call to serve the Lord since my childhood. My father was working in the parish church as gardener and by visiting the parish I got acquainted with religious sisters and priests. Therefore right after finishing my high school I went to the diocesan seminary but due to several reasons I could not continue there and I returned home.
While staying at home I finished my bachelor degree in political science. Meantime I kept on searching the will of God in my life. I continued to attend the Sundays and Tuesday masses of St. Anthony in my parish. Our parish priest Fr. Francois a missionary from Belgium continued to pray for me. He kept on guiding me. Once I remember, I have a group of friends in my village of the same age. All of them were working in nearby bricks factory and some were day laborers. They were curious to know about the word of God. I remember one evening they knocked my door and asked me to teach them catechism but I refused. They came second time and I refused them again but the third time I accepted. I realized perhaps God is sending them to me to teach them. With this intentions I began to teach them catechism and also prepared them for first communion.
Since my parish priest was aware of all these happenings he guided me to join a religious order but I was not attracted to anyone. Eventually he introduced me to the Salesian Society of St. John Bosco. He told me Salesians are working in a same way as I am doing for the boys. These words got my attention and I decided to visit Lahore where Salesians were working with the young people. I met Frs. Hans and Miguel, they interviewed me and allowed me that I can join them.
On August 10, 2004, I officially entered Don Bosco Technical School and Youth center in Lahore. After one month of Live-in with the Salesians, I got interested and decided to continue. I was inspired by the untiring zeal, love and passion of Fr. Hans Dopheide for the young. The youthfulness of Fr. Miguel and his initiatives for the young people really touched my life. Lastly I met Fr. Peter who visited Don Bosco Technical and youth center Lahore. After staying one year in Lahore, I was asked to go to Quetta Don Bosco in order to have the experience of a different school apostolate. I enjoyed my time there with Fr. Peter and few months with Fr. Julio.
Finally both communities recommend me for the prenovitiate in the Philippines in 2006. After finishing my whole formation (novitiate, postnovitiate and theology) in the Philippines I came back to Pakistan. On May 24, the feast of Mary Help of Christians, I was ordained in the Sacred Heart Cathedral, Lahore by Bishop Sebastian Shaw.
I chose my priesthood motto from the Gospel of John 21,17 - ‘Lord you know everything you know that I love you’. These words of St. Peter's confession in front of Jesus remind the humility and unworthiness of Peter. Yet he was asked to take care of Jesus sheep. In a similar way, I found myself unworthy to be the first Pakistani Salesian but God and Don Bosco asked me to follow his sheep, to love and offer my life for our Pakistani youth.
This is my main priority now. I am assigned as spiritual moderator for the boys in Lahore, Don Bosco Technical School with a boarding house. I am happy and I am assured God wanted to use me for the mission of St. John Bosco in a Pakistan. I have the passion and love for our Pakistani youth and I do want to elevate their social status in the country in Don Bosco way. Lord help me!’
Every 12th of the month the EAO Salesian Family members are invited to pray especially for the young and fragile Delegation of Pakistan. We pray for more Salesian consecrated vocation in this most western country of our Region.