We wish to share this letter received from Pakistan which describes the missionary courage of the Daughters of St. Paul in this Muslim country which is among the most populous in the world:
“With joy we want to share this information about our apostolic and vocational mission in the parishes of three towns, on the border of Afghanistan, in northern Pakistan, Kohat, Bannu and Amanshah.
In May, at the invitation of the parish priest of Kohat, Father Rahat William, we, (Sr. Shamim Yousaf and Sr. Meena Inayat), left our community of Rawalpindi, and enthusiastically undertook a journey to Kohat, about 170 km from our convent. In Kohat, during Sunday Mass, we introduced ourselves and explained our mission. We were able to see the attentive eyes of several girls who, after Mass, held us back, showing themselves to be very interested in religious life. We gave each of them a vocational brochure and the necessary information to keep in touch with us. We also set up a small book display outside the church. Here, a little girl came back several times to see us. She was an only child. Her mother was very worried by her insistent request to become a sister. We reassured the mother and her daughter that first she had to grow up and study before taking on any vocational journey.
In the afternoon we went to Bannu, a three-hour journey. When we arrived, we had to cover our heads with the long Islamic veil, the chador. At a checkpoint, we waited for nearly two hours due to military control. They would not allow us to enter this zone, so we tried to enter through another checkpoint. Sr. Shamin was able to get on a motorcycle driven by a young man and entered without any problem. Sr. Meena did the same. When we reached the church, the people who had been waiting for us for four hours welcomed us with much jubilation. Here too, during the Mass we were able to speak about our Pauline vocation and mission. After the Mass we were offered dinner and spent the night with a family. We were very grateful for the faith, courage and generous welcome of this Christian community.
The next day we went to Amanshah. Here to we attended Mass and prepared a small exhibit of books. We noticed that all the women came to Mass with the burqa and took it off when they got to church; so, as you can see from the photos, we too adapted to the customs of the place.
The next day we embarked on a return journey to Bannu and then to Kohat. We are very grateful to Father William for this invitation which has allowed us to have an unforgettable apostolic and vocational experience with these Christians, minorities who live in an isolated military area inhabited by fundamentalist groups.”
Our remembrance and our prayers for these intrepid Pauline missionaries.