Mission in Pakistan
December 4-8, 2006
Vassula first visited Pakistan in March 2005. This country is the 6th most populous nation in the world with its population of 165 million, 96% of which are Muslim. Of the remaining population, roughly 2.7 million are Christian. On this second visit, Vassula was welcomed to Faisalabad, the third largest city of Pakistan, by His Excellency, Bishop Joseph Coutts, and Fr. Waseem Walter who oversees the translation and publication of the Messages of True Life in God in Urdu, the official language of Pakistan, and one of the 23 official languages of India. Vassula's program consisted of visits to some Catholic missions, and a Public Meeting where she spoke to the parishioners of the Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral in Faisalabad, with their Bishop, nuns and priests in attendance.
Miss Haq Home for Handicapped Children, Faisalabad
Miss Haq was an Anglo-Indian lady belonging to the United Presbyterian Church who had lived her life helping the poor. Inspired by her compassion for the needs of those around her, this generous soul was led to donate her home and property to the Bishop's diocese for the purpose of serving the poor.
The Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Sienna were asked to dedicate their work to the handicapped children of Faisalabad. Under the care of Italian nun, Sr. Alessia, O.P., who has lived in Pakistan for 56 yrs., this Home was founded many years ago to welcome all children afflicted with physical disabilities.
Heaven provides the support for this Home. People come to observe the Sisters' work of love and donate what is needed. They see the children helping each other, dependent on one another in their disabilities, showing no discrimination between religions. Muslim and Christian children often pray the Rosary together to Our Lady, celebrate Holy Mass and attend the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament once a week. With much respect for all faiths, these times of prayer are open to everyone; Muslim parents feel welcome to join and pray with their children in the Chapel.
Public Meeting in SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral Hall
Vassula and the Bishop were welcomed into the Cathedral Hall filled with nuns, priests, and the parishioners of Faisalabad Diocese. They were instantly engulfed in a jubilant atmosphere of vibrant Pakistani folk music and lovely bouquets of flowers. Her talk consisted of her experience from the very beginning with her Angel and God's tender approach to a soul which had seemingly forgotten Him. The nearness of God and His Intimacy were the captivating subjects of this afternoon talk. The "We, Us" the Lord gently urges us to use, renders Him accessible to each one of us, and helps us come to the awareness that He is indeed our Holy Companion. After the themes of Repentance and Reconciliation, Vassula publicly prayed, for the first time ever, the Prayer of Repentance and Deliverance the Lord had given her barely 3 weeks before, on November 13, 2006.
Vassula thanked His Excellency, Bishop Joseph Coutts for welcoming her and the Messages to Faisalabad. It is interesting to note that in this city over a year ago, many Muslims had rioted during the uproar against the anti-Mohammed cartoons. This cartoon and the unfortunate interpretation of Pope Benedict's Regensburg speech last year immediately found retaliation on the Christians in countries like Pakistan. Churches and schools were burned, we were told tales of a priest whose hands were chopped off, and other acts of violent extremism. Meeting the nuns and priests in the missions made us aware of how little we know of the sufferings of Christian minorities in non-Christian countries, and how we do not realize the consequences of our democratic right of freedom of speech in the West. The Bishop's priests explained that although many efforts are being done by Christians to promote Inter-Faith harmony, there are many challenges and difficulties impeding harmony. A mere rumor, whether unfounded or not, is sometimes enough to incite Islamic Extremist groups to violent action. Currently, Bishop Coutts is a target of death threats from an Extremist group for his efforts to establish Inter-religious dialogue.
Discussing Vassula's mission after the Meeting, the Bishop and his priests showed interest for the Messages and, most especially, in Vassula's Inter-faith exposure during the Peace Award Ceremonies in Bangladesh. In 2003, Vassula received the prestigious Peace Gold Award for "her efforts to establish Inter-Religious Harmony and promote world Peace among all peoples and faiths." On that occasion, she recounted, she had started her speech by reading the Verses of Praise at the beginning of the Koran in Arabic, which she remembered from the days her family lived in Egypt. "The Muslims in the audience were honored and touched! Never denying my faith at any point," Vassula continued, "I in turn took the Bible and read out the Beatitudes, the words of Jesus Christ." During that night, Vassula's Inter-religious audience imbibed the beautiful reading from Holy Scriptures and was filled with peace. Following her Peace Award speech, Vassula was approached by an enthusiastic Muslim Professor and was asked to speak to his students in the Department of World Religions in the Muslim University of Dhaka. A few months later, she was also invited to speak at Inter-faith Meetings in Taiwan and the Philippines.
Our short visit to Faisalabad showed us the urgent need for harmony among the faiths. Vassula conveyed to these brave and persecuted Pakistani clergy that there is hope, that the Holy Spirit is at work in the world today, calling out for Unity. In Vassula's mission for Unity and in our work in helping her spread the Messages of True Life in God, we take part in the Holy Spirit's momentum to achieve this harmony and Unity. It is for us to pray for our Christian brothers to continually find the strength and courage to persevere in their mission to serve the less fortunate in these lands, and work untiringly for Peace among all faiths.
We always find hope and encouragement in Our Lord's Words: "Vassula of My Sacred Heart, in the end every heart will learn the word "Reconciliation," and will accept one another in the heart; unity will be in the heart." (October 14, 1992)