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Eucharistic Congress a first for Pakistan

ISLAMABAD (AsiaNews): Pakistan held its first Eucharistic Congress in Islamabad during July, ending in an appeal to Catholics who have fallen away from their Church to come home.

“People say that prayer counts most, whatever Church you attend,” Father Yousaf Amanat, from the host parish, said. “Protestant pastors are attracting many Catholics. We hope to counter this trend through greater awareness.”

The Church in Pakistan has been watching its membership decline steadily over recent years.

In 2009, there were 390,000 Catholics in Lahore, but current Church records show only 377,000 in the nation’s oldest diocese, even though the population has grown by 1.89 per cent.

During the congress, several Christian choirs and artists performed as part of looking at proposals to brighten up communication with the grassroots population.

The Rosary Group said it plans to recite the mysteries of the rosary in five different houses every day.

“We plan to visit the houses where families have started to attend other Churches,” a youth leader said.

Group presentations included proposals for pastoral visits to sub-stations and better catechetical programmes for children.

Bishop Rufin Anthony hopes that the first congress will generate more activities in the coming months. “Christians are a minority and they need help to keep their faith strong amid prejudice and discrimination,” he said.

“The Eucharist is the central theme of our prayer, but many still do not understand the meaning. We are calling for a stronger relationship with Jesus through prayer at the individual, family and Church levels. Similar seminars will be held in parishes, as well as the diocesan and national levels.”

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