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Karachi's oldest parish turns 150

Jubilee ceremony attended by about a thousand parishioners, priests and religious

Parishioners gather at the Sacred Heart Church in Karachi archdiocese to mark the parish's 150th anniversary Parishioners gather at the Sacred Heart Church in Karachi archdiocese to mark the parish's 150th anniversary
  • Ayyaz Gulzar, Karachi
  • Pakistan
  • September 20, 2011
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More than a thousand people attended the opening ceremony of celebrations commemorating 150th anniversary of the Sacred Heart parish, the first in southern archdiocese.

Archbishop Evarist Pinto of Karachi and eight priests celebrated the Eucharist on September 18 to open the jubilee year. The prelate later presided over the cutting of a cake and a fireworks display outside the Sacred Heart Church built in 1862.

“This parish served as a gateway for the missionaries and faithful from different countries and cultures. You should overcome all the language barriers and form one family of faithful”, he told those in attendance.

German, Spanish, Italian and American Jesuits started the mission in Karachi, which was then a part of the Bombay Archdiocese in India. Europeans and Anglo-Indians constituted the first parishioners.

Karachi became an archdiocese in 1950 and was divided to form Hyderabad diocese eight years later. It has a population of 1,151,319 Catholics in 15 parishes. Eight among the 29 diocesan priests are of Goan descent.

Father Inderias Rehmat, parish priest at the Sacred Heart Church, said parishioners have downgraded socially with the passage of time.

“Goans were educated traders and left the country slowly for better opportunities. Most of the 150 families in the parish are now labors and sanitary workers,” he said.

Sacred Heart Church was rebuilt twice after the wooden building caught fire in 1969 following a circuit short and was attacked in 1992 by a crowd of five thousand people. Its century-old vessels were also stolen last year but recovered four months later.

Related reports:

Stolen antiques returned to church in Karachi
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