Silent night: Christian community celebrates a quiet Christmas

Pastors and priests from different churches prayed for victims, survivors of the Peshawar attack and their families.

Our Correspondents December 25, 2014

HYDERABAD/ KARACHI: Prayers for the students and teachers who lost their lives in the militant attack on the Army Public School echoed in churches across the city on Thursday as the Christians of Karachi gathered for midnight and morning mass to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

Pastors and priests from different churches prayed for the the victims, survivors of the Peshawar attack and their families. They added that they needed to celebrate Christmas modestly this year.

At the Holy Trinity Cathedral, a minute of silence was observed as Bishop Sadiq Daniel said that these deaths were an unforgettable loss.

"The bishop prayed for the families and said that it was our responsibility to offer solace to them," said Reverend Shahid Sabir, adding that prayers were offered in English and Urdu. "We are celebrating a modest Christmas this year. All musical programmes have been cancelled and we are not lighting up our neighbourhoods either."

In Essa Nagri, Reverend Rafaqat Sadiq of the United Presbyterian Church of Pakistan held special prayers at midnight. "Like the Quran, our Bible does not allow violence," he said while talking to The Express Tribune. "In fact, it teaches us to forgive our enemies."

Along with the victims of the Peshawar attack, people also prayed for the Christian couple that was killed in Kot Radha Kishan, Aasia Bibi and those killed in twin bombings at the All Saints Church in Peshawar last year.

The annual mela in Essa Nagri was also cancelled this year. "We cancelled all major events which take place at schools and churches this Christmas," he said. "There will be no Christmas mela this year."

Azam Basti's Father Nazar Nawab from the St Pauls Church gave references from Bible calling for world peace. "Because of this incident [Peshawar attack], the whole world is in pain," he said during mass on Christmas Eve. "How can we be joyous?"

Asif Ghani, who goes to the St Gabriel Church in Old Golimar, said the Father prayed for God to grant patience and tolerance to the families of the victims. He also prayed for extremism and militancy to be eliminated from the country.

Zahid Farooq who attends the St Mary Church in Pahar Gunj which is headed by Pastor Pervaiz Gill said that their service was about Jesus and his message of peace and love. He added that this year, due to the security situation, they had the police and Rangers monitoring the area.

Santa's little elves

With recitations from the Testament, sermons and carols sung by the choirs, the Christian community celebrated Christmas in 43 Catholic churches of Sindh headed by Bishop Max Rodriguez, 36 Protestant churches under the administration of Bishop Kaleem John.

According to dean of the protestant branch of churches, reverend Daniel Fiaz, the festivities were low-key as the people were in mourning for those who died in Peshawar on December 16. "We also held a special prayer for the country and mourned the children who lost their lives in the Peshawar incident," he said. "We advised the parish to avoid celebrations and singing of carols at homes in order observe the day with simplicity."

In Hyderabad, the main Christmas day celebrations were held at St Thomas Church in Civil Lines, where bishop Rodreux led the prayer, St Philips in Tilak Incline and St Andrews in Latifabad. Bishop Kaleem and Samson Shukardinand, the bishop who will replace him in January, led prayer at St Francis Xavier Cathedral which located within the premises of St Bona Ventures's High School on Station Road. St Luke, St Paul, St Joseph, St Johns and other Catholic churches had also organised similar prayers.

Security situation

Two days before Christmas, a delegation of the priests met with the Hyderabad Range Police to review the security arrangements. All the nine SSPs in the range were directed to deploy personnel at the churches and to maintain liaison with the organisers.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 26th, 2014.


Lion King | 9 years ago | Reply

In EU and US offices do not give a single day holiday to their Muslim personnel on Eids while in Pakistan Christians get confirmed holidays yet the pseudo intellectual media would keep howling gibberish like silent celebrations

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