Catholic Church in Sahiwal Commemorates 26th Death Anniversary of Bishop John Joseph

On May 6, 2024, the Catholic Church in Sahiwal marked the 26th anniversary of Bishop John Joseph, a pivotal figure in the Christian community of Pakistan. The memorial service drew a large congregation, reflecting the deep respect and reverence held for Bishop Joseph’s enduring legacy.


Throughout the service, tributes were paid to Bishop Joseph's selfless contributions to his community. His life's work, characterized by his sacrifice in Sahiwal, was remembered by many who continue to be inspired by his commitment to humanity and justice.


Father Nadeem Joseph, the Parish Priest of the Catholic Church in Sahiwal, shared heartfelt reflections on Bishop Joseph's life and mission. "Bishop John Joseph was not only a courageous leader but also a beacon of hope who dedicated his life to alleviating human suffering," Father Nadeem remarked. He highlighted Bishop Joseph's relentless advocacy for the oppressed and his efforts to uphold the dignity of the underprivileged as guided by Christian teachings.


Bishop John Joseph's biography resonates with his profound influence. Born on November 15, 1932, in Khushpur, Pakistan, he pursued his early education at St. Thomas School. His spiritual journey led him from the Minor Seminary in Quetta to the Major Seminary in Karachi, where he immersed himself in theology and philosophy. Ordained as a priest on January 18, 1960, in Faisalabad, then called Lyallpur, he was the first Punjabi priest of his time, a title that carried great honour.


His academic pursuits took him to Rome, Italy, where he earned a PhD in theology, after which he returned to Pakistan to serve as the Dean of Studies at Christ the King Seminary in Karachi. On January 9, 1984, he was appointed the Bishop of Faisalabad, marking another first as the Punjabi Bishop.


Bishop Joseph was deeply engaged in literary circles, frequently interacting with prominent Urdu poets and writers, and actively promoting Urdu literature. His dedication extended beyond cultural efforts; he was fiercely committed to the education of Christian youth, ensuring that many received the financial support needed to pursue higher education abroad.


The tragic end to Bishop Joseph’s life came on May 6, 1998, when he sacrificed himself in protest against the blasphemy law, at the premises of the Sessions Court in Sahiwal. This act of profound sacrifice came after the controversial conviction of Ayub Masih, a Christian man accused under Pakistan's blasphemy laws. Bishop Joseph's death underscored his unyielding stance against injustice and his commitment to the Christian community in Pakistan.


On this 26th anniversary, the community not only remembers a leader but renews a collective commitment to Bishop Joseph’s principles of equality, justice, and human rights. The legacy of Bishop John Joseph continues to inspire both reflection and action within the community and beyond.

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