GUJRANWALA (UCAN): “It is an example of true love and brotherhood that Muslim people have opened their hearts and are financing the construction work,” said Father Samran Anwar, commenting on the interfaith effort being put into the rebuilding of St. Mary’s Church in the Butranwali district of Gujranwala, Pakistan, to accommodate more people
“We are glad that not only the local Christian community, but also our Muslim brothers are supporting the construction work, which is a true sign of brotherhood and peace,” Father Anwarparish, who is parish priest of St. Joseph’s Parish, said when he laid the foundation stone of the church in November last year.
Around 50 Christian families are estimated to be living in the Muslim-majority community where the church is being rebuilt.
Nazir Masih, a local teacher in charge of the renovation work, explained that the parish is one of 27 in the Archdiocese of Lahore.
“It is one of the oldest mission stations in the archdiocese, founded in 1953 by Capuchin missionaries from Belgium. This rebuilt church will be a visible sign of our identity and a shelter for the faithful. We need financial support to complete the construction work without any further delay,” he said.
Local Muslims said they were helping in order to maintain a long community tradition of living in peace with one another.
One Muslim, who requested anonymity due of the sensitivity of the issue, said he had contributed 60,000 rupees ($3,000).
“My small contribution for the House of God has filled my heart with joy which cannot be expressed in words. We (Muslims and Christians) live side by side in peace and harmony. Our community is a shining example for others,” he said.