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Asian Catholic Directory

Pakistani Church preserves the relic of miraculous Portuguese saint

Archdiocese of Karachi Pakistani Church preserves the relic of miraculous Portuguese saint

Asian Catholics who cannot visit Padua in Italy to honor the miraculous Portuguese Saint Anthony can visit St. Anthony’s Church in Karachi to pay tribute to him. The church has preserved a relic of the Wonder Worker since it was established in 1937. 

St. Anthony’s Church stands at McNeil Road in the port city. It came into being when some local Catholics expressed the desire to have a church to honor the miraculous Portuguese saint. A large bungalow was purchased and modified into a church with two presbytery rooms and another two rooms were prepared for a school. The church officially started on Feb. 13, 1937, with the enshrinement of St. Anthony’s relic and the appointment of Franciscan Father Aquina van Liebergen as the first parish priest.

Pilgrims attend a religious ceremony at St. Anthony's Church in Karachi. (Photo: Facebook)

The church’s records show the first child baptized in 1937 was named Anthony Joseph Mahnga to honor the saint. The church authority planned to build the current church in 1939 and the foundation stone was laid on June 25. However, the construction was delayed due to World War II. The fund collection continued under the leadership of parish priest Franciscan Father Valens Wienk and the construction was completed by the 1950s. Besides the church, a grotto of Mother Mary was constructed in the compound for additional splendor and devotion.

The Vatican established diplomatic relations with Pakistan July 17, 1950, and the parish Chancery at the old Clifton Road became the Apostolic Nunciature. Theophilus D’Souza is the first son of the parish who was ordained a priest on Jan. 9, 1972. Since then, seven members of the parish have dedicated their lives by joining religious congregations.

In 1986 the history of the parish got a turning point when the Franciscans handed over the parish to the diocesan priests. The parish has a vibrant pastoral life thanks to the activities of various parish groups such as the Legion of Mary, Choir Group, Vincent de Paul Society, Youth Group, Eucharistic Ministry, Familia Group, Women’s Guild, and Sunday School.

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