Islamabad (Agenzia Fides) – “Today there is urgent need of peace and hope in this city and indeed all over the country. The people are destitute and losing hope. As Christians in the Catholic diocese of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, we must be ambassadors of peace and hope, not only for the local Church but for the whole of society”. With these words Archbishop Joseph Arshad of the diocese of Islamabad-Rawalpindi announced that 2019 will be a Year of Peace and Hope for the diocese. Fides learned that the Archbishop said: "Jesus is our peace and our hope. He is the prince of peace. Peace and hope are two important Christian values”. He went on to say: “I call on all our priests, religious, laity, church groups and Catholic institutes to take a step forward and play their role and commitment to promote these two values”.
In every parish in the diocese the Year of Peace and Hope will be inaugurated on January 1 2019, in conjunction with the World Day of Peace and the reading out of the special Papal Message.
In his pastoral letter issued for the occasion, Mons Arshad states: “The words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount:" Blessed are the peace makers” (Mt.5: 9 bind us to the Year of Peace and Hope which will mean living a time of inward renewal and promotion of peace which is a spiritual value innate in all religions and cultures”. “Let us explore together every possibility for starting an era of peace. Let us pray with St Francis of Assisi: Lord make me a channel of your peace. Let us open new paths of peace, lighting a candle of peace and hope. May peace and hope reign in Pakistan and in the world”.
In the area of Rawalpindi, Islamabad is a modern city built in the late 1950s after Pakistan gained independence. The first Catholic missions were opened towards the 19th century by chaplains of the British Army and led to the formation of the first Catholic communities in Rawalpindi and Peshawar. In 1887 the Prefecture of Kafiristan and Kashmir was established and entrusted to the Society of Saint Joseph for Foreign Missions, in other words the Mill Hill Missionaries. The present diocese was created on 10 July 1947, one month before the independence of Pakistan.
Archbishop Joseph 11th Bishop of the Islamabad-Rawalpindi diocese, was installed 10 February 2017. “Peace and Hope” are the words he chose for his episcopal motto on the occasion of his episcopal ordination as Bishop of the Catholic diocese of Faisalabad in 2013. (AG) (Agenzia Fides 7/12/2018)