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New light in Youhannabad Catholic community - Akash Bashir!

By Fr. Francis Gulzar, SDB

Lahore, Pakistan, 10 November 2017 -- "Two and half years after the suicide bombings in our Christian colony of Youhannabad the life is going on. One of the largest parishes in Pakistan - St. John Parish is full of life. Every year about 800 newly baptized (mainly children) and our Catholic schools, community center and Caritas services are the best expression of the vitality of our Catholic community.

Among our lights and motivations stand up beloved Akash Bashir, our hero and martyr of the 2015, March twin suicide bombing on two Churches - Catholic of St. John and the nearby Anglican parish. The life is coming again almost to the normal ways, our parish Church was renewed and we continue the beautification of the church compound to lift up the spirit of our Catholics.

Whenever I bring the frequent visitors, both from abroad or from other parts of our country, we are encouraged by the strong faith of Akash Bashir family - his parents, two brothers and one sister. In our Christian cemetery the tomb of Akash Bashir shines and is always full of flowers. And we read the Revelation verses: "Remain faithful even to death and I will give you the crown of Live" (Revelation 2,10).

Many come to pray and ask his intercession. In the name of our parish community we have already published small booklet both in English and Urdu with few testimonials and prayers: 'Akash Bashir is one of those people, who proved themselves to be true Christians and human being. We do believe that by giving his life for others he is seated in the company of other martyrs. His daring and spirited act conveys the message of sacrifice.

And today let's pray for all the families whose children laid their life for others and set the example of living love. May their living example become the source of change, that needs to take place in the minds of evildoers, a true love, the love of God."

Archbishop Sebastian Francis Shaw, OFM of Lahore is confident: "Akash is a symbol of hope for all of us: there was a hope in his heart that by sacrificing his life, he is actually going to give life to many.... He had a heart bigger than his dreams, heart that made him surrender his very own life for the love of his Christ."

Akash Bashir (1994, June 22 - 2015, March 15) was also a Don Bosco Lahore Technical School past pupil and dedicated minister in his parish of St. John. When the armed guard on the suicide attack day escaped, he didn't hesitate to die together with the attacker in order to safe the lives of hundreds who celebrated the Palm Sunday Mass in the Church.

The Archdiocese of Lahore and especially the parish community of Youhannabad started to collect the necessary documents and testimonials for the first Dossier need to start the preliminary stage of the Cause of Martyrdom with the Congregation for the Saints in the Vatican.

The situation of the Christian community in Pakistan (2% of the 200+ million of population) remains full of challenges, also due to the low social and education background. However each light like the model of young Akash, inspires the young Catholics and their families on their daily journey!

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