1996-11-20 00:00:00

A new pastoral center, on 22 hectares of wooded, rolling hills in Rawalpindi, the twin city of Pakistan´s capital Islamabad, was opened on Oct. 23 before a gathering of 150 clergy, Religious and laity.

Welcoming the guests at the opening ceremony, Mill Hill Father John Nevin, the center´s director, called it a place of "prayer, study and discovery," and said he hoped Catholics would avail themselves of the new facility.

Archbishop Simeon Pereira of Karachi, during whose 1973-1993 episcopate in Islamabad-Rawalpindi diocese the old pastoral center began, presided over the inaugural Mass and blessed the new building.

The Pastoral Center was built on a land donated to the Church about 35 years ago for educational purposes by the late Ayub Khan, Pakistan´s first military ruler and founder of Islamabad.

Mill Hill Father Paddy Burns, who later set up St. Mary´s School on the property, taught Khan´s two sons, one of whom, Gohar Ayub, was an elected member of Pakistan´s recently dissolved National Assembly.

Part of the 24-room center is currently being used as a minor seminary, with 24 seminarians and the rector, Oblate Father J.J. Edwards, residing on site. The diocese plans to build a new seminary on the same property.

The foundation stone of the new center was blessed by Cardinal Jozef Tomko, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, during his visit to Pakistan in 1994.

Bishop Anthony Lobo of Islamabad-Rawalpindi and Major General Julian Peter, a Catholic and the first Christian general in the Pakistan army, also attended the ceremony, which coincided with the 25th anniversary of Archbishop Pereira´s ordination as a bishop.


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