Lahore: January 9, 2018. (Sunil John) National Commission for Interreligious Dialogue and Ecumenism (Catholic Bishops Conference Pakistan) organized an Interfaith Christmas and New Year Celebration in association with WAVE studio at a local hotel in Lahore.
His Grace Archbishop Sebastian Francis Shaw (Chairman NCIDE), Mr. Imran Masood (Vice Chancellor South Asian University, Former Education Minister Punjab), and Dr. Saeed Elahi, Chairman Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PM advisory committee on Health), were the Chief guests of the occasion.
Whereas Hafiz Sayed Ashiq Hussain, Moulana Muhammad Asim Makhdoom, Dr. Badar Munir, Sardar Kalyan Singh, Fr. Inayat Bernard, Fr. Qaisar Feroz, Fr. Francis Sabir, Fr. Henry Paul, Rev. Shahid Mehraj, Yousaf Benjamin, Fr. Samson Dilawar, Rev. Emmanuel Khokher, Rev. Saleem Khokhar were the guests of honor. A number of Muslim and Christian religious leaders were among the other prominent guests. The programme was attended by a large number of people belonging to different religions and walks of life.
The programme began with the prayer and recitations of Holy Bible and Quran-e-Majeed. The peace prayer was led by Fr. Samson Dilawar OFM Cap, whereas Hafiz Ashiq Hussain recited few verses from Holy Quran.
In the beginning of the ceremony, Fr. Qaiser Feroz OFM Cap welcomed all the participants in his introductory speech. Fr. Inyat Bernard elaborated the purposes of this special ceremony.
The programme began with lighting of Peace Candle of New Year. Archbishop Sebastian Francis Shaw and leaders of the others religions lit the candle of Peace together with a hope to illuminate the darkness and grow in faith and hope. The speakers in their message appreciated this gesture and prayed that may this year be filled with peace, tolerance, happiness and solidarity among all the religions.
Fr. Inayat Bernard read out the message of Holy Father; Pope Francis on the occasion of New year. Later Fr. Qaiser Feroz narrated the message of Archbishop Joseph Arshad for New year in which he invited all to pray for peace in our country and contribute our share for the growth of peace and harmony. If there is peace in inerself of a person only then there will be peace in the families. The peace in family will flourish peace in the society. Peace is the path of God and we human are called to walk on this path.
During the second part honorable guests cut the Christmas cake. Later, students of St. Anthony High School Lahore Cantt presented Christmas carols and received lot of appreciation from the participants. Students from St. Mary School Gulberg presented different tableus. Meanwhile the students of Bait-ul-Quran distributed flowers among the guests under the supervision of Mufti Ashiq Hussain.
Honorable guests greeted all the participants for Christmas. They said it is a remarkable demonstration of the interfaith harmony which is dire need of the hour.
Dr. Saeed Elahi, Chairman Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PM advisory committee on Health), described his experiences as the allumini of St. Anthony School. He appreciated the missionary educational system and cited the efforts of Interfaith dialogue in Pakistan.
Mr. Imran Masood (Vice Chancellor South Asian University, Former Education Minister Punjab) appreciated this get together and the efforts of Interreligious dialogue for a peaceful society.
Archbishop Sebastian Francis Shaw, while expressing his views on this occasion, said that patriotism is our identity and through interfaith dialogue the theory of co-existence is prevailed. The entire world and specially Pakistan is facing terrorism and there is bloodshed everywhere.
In the year 2018 it will be our moral duty to promote peace and interfaith harmony so that peace may prevail in the world. We need to bring forth the new generation to be the ambassadors of peace.
Expressing his views Fr. Francis Nadeem said that we have to eliminate all sorts of discrimination and hatred from our families, society and the country and to grow the seeds of peace, tolerance and harmony.
At the end Fr. Inayat Bernard thanked the administration of Avari Hotel, the entire team of NCIDE, the guests and the audience who were present for this programme.