Missionary Endeavors in Loralai
The adventures and missionary works of the Oblates are well appreciated and highly regarded in St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Loralai, in Baluchistan. Although this parish was erected in 2000 as an independent parish, the Oblates had been rendering their services over there since 1982. The parish church was built under the kind supervision of Rev. Fr. Aloysius Roy OMI. It has ten substations which are very far from the parish long far and flung distance share the wide picture of area. Sometimes for several families, a pastor has to travel hundreds of miles. The pastoral team has to stay with the parishioners because they cannot come back to the parish on the same day due to the long distances. The area of the parish is very vast. There are almost 342 Catholic families in the parish. The parish is located on the border with Afghanistan which makes the area unsafe. There are many cases of kidnapping and killing by the Taliban. The public transport is very slow and uncomfortable because of the mountainous area. The roads are very narrow and dangerous for travelers. Communication facilities are very limited on the way while traveling. Despite all these challenges and difficulties, the Oblates are there to share their time, thoughts, talents, pains, joys, and happiness with the Christian faithful. At present Rev. Fr. Shahzad Anwar and Rev. Fr. Yarmiha Younas OMI with the help of most senior catechist Master Arif are serving the faithful for their sacramental needs etc.
A Brief History of St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Loralai
Loralai also known as Bori is in the northeast of Balochistan province in Pakistan. It is 4,700 feet (1400m) above the sea level and it comes in the winter zone areas of Balochistan. Loralai is the district headquarters and a mountainous area. Pashto is the language of the area along with some other languages being spoken here. According to the recent census the literacy rate of Loralai is about 42.42 %; the male literacy rate is 56.99% while the female literacy rate is 25.46%.
History of the Parish
The presence of Christianity in Loralai could be traced back to 1919 with a few Christian families who migrated from Punjab and got settled here. In 1964 the Christians of Loralai thought of building a church for themselves and late Mr. Prem Masih, late Mr. Ghulam Masih, late Chaudary Bashir Charagh and Munir Masih with the permission of the chairman of Town Committee and self supportively built a church with raw bricks and its roof was made of wood and iron. At that time only twice a year priests used to visit this place.
The elders of Loralai used to tell that due to fewer resources priests were facing many hardships but they were never fad up of serving this area. However, as the Christians grew in number here it was thought of rebuilding the church with cement and bricks. Hence, in 1992 in order to avoid non-catholic interference and to appreciate services of Franciscan priests the church was attributed to St. Francis of Assisi.
In order to fulfill the spiritual and pastoral needs of Loralai it was declared as a separate parish in 1998 and Rev. Fr. Yousaf Gill OMI (an X-Priest) was appointed as first Parish Priest. At that time Muslim Bagh, Killasaifullah, Zhob, Sanjavi, Duki, MusaKhel, Barkhan, Kohlu, and Ziarat were the sub-stations of St. Francis of Assisi Parish Loralai. Rev. Fr. Anayat Michael Gill OMI succeeded him as Parish Priest and afterwards Rev. Fr. Maxi OMI, Rev. Fr. Eric Luckman OMI and other priests used to come from Quetta. In 2008 Rev. Fr. Thayagan Fonsika OMI was appointed as Parish Priest and in the same year the areas of Shahrug and Harnai were separated from St. Eugene Parish, Sibi and linked with St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Loralai.
In 2013 Rev. Fr. Nadeem Daniel OMI came as Parish Priest but after a few months in 2014 Rev. Fr. Akmal Patras OMI was appointed as Parish Priest. In 2016 Rev. Fr. Renard Ramindran OMI became the Parish Priest and he used to come from Quetta for Sunday Mass. In 2017 Rev. Fr. Peter Shangara (a Diocesan Priest from the Diocese of Faisalabad) was appointed as Parish Priest. In August 2020, Rev. Fr. Peter Shangara went back to his home diocese and Rev. Fr. Shahzad Anwar became Parish Priest then in 2021 Rev. Fr. Imtiaz Faryad became Parish Priest. However, in 2022 Rev. Fr. Shahzad Anwar again became Parish Priest and currently he is serving the parish as parish Priest and Rev. Fr. Yarmia Rafique is assisting him.
- Fr. Shahzad Anwar (Parish Priest)
- Fr. Yarmia Rafique (Assistant Parish Priest)
There are two catechists serving and assisting the priests here;
- Respected Mr. Arif Raza Gill
- Respected Mr. Patras Rasheed
There are two Parish Houses in this Parish; one in Zhob and the other one in Loralai but priests’ permanent residence is in Loralai. Following are the sub-stations of St. Francis of Assisi Parish;
- Muslim Bagh
Though the number of Catholic families is very less yet in all above mentioned areas priests regularly go for pastoral services.
Apart from Christmas and Easter celebration there are two major annual celebrations of the parish 1. Annual three days Catholic Convention (celebrated in October on the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi in Loralai) 2. Annual three days Mela on the Feast of the Nativity of Blessed Virgin Mary (it is celebrated every year in September in Zhob).
Finances of the Parish:
Since the sub-stations of St. Francis of Assisi Parish Loralai are far away from the main station i.e. Loralai, so in order to meet with the expenditures the Parish is subsidized on the monthly bases by the Vicariate.
Catholic Churches of the Parish:
The number of catholic churches which belong to the is given below;
- Loralai (One)
- Killasaifullah (One)
- Muslim Bagh (Nil)
- Zhob (Three)
- Sanjavi (Nil)
- Duki (One)
- Shahrug (Nil)
- Harnai (Nil)
- Ziarat (Nil)
- MusaKhel (Nil)
- Barkhan (Nil)
- Kohlu (One)
St. Francis of Assisi Parish has eleven sub-stations and there are eight districts which come in the geographical territory of the Parish. The majority of people are uneducated and poor, the facilities are less available and the travelling is far away for each sub-station. The area is vast, the roads are mountainous and there are lakes and streams on the way. There are various challenges which a priest faces to work in this parish but thanks be to God for all those who served this parish with full dedication and may God bless those who are serving now.