Our Ministry in Pakistan
Making the love of Christ visible
Sixty years have passed since eight Dominican Sisters of Sparkill began their ministry in Pakistan after their ship sailed into Karachi. The Sisters established ministries that flourished over the years and have continued to serve both Christians and Muslims. The Sparkill Dominican circle in Pakistan has continually grown ever wider. The community now spans three cities, with five schools and two hostels that provide a home to young girls who would not otherwise have the opportunity for an education.
Since their arrival in Pakistan in 1958, the Sisters have embraced the living of the beatitude of being peacemakers—“who shall be called the children of God.” Their primary ministry for over 60 years has been education, serving both Christians and Muslims.
Bahawalpur’s Dominican Convent School opened 1958 with fewer than 70 students. Begun as a middle school, within two years it also became a high school. Cambridge classes began to be offered to students in 2000, and the school was upgraded to a Higher Secondary School in 2003. Today more than 1300 girls and boys, both Muslim and Christian, are enrolled in classes from primary school through secondary school. The thousands of students who have graduated from Dominican Convent School since its foundation more than 60 years ago have acquired more than an academic diploma. During their school years, Muslim and Christian students were classmates and friends, learning from their experience that the growth of peaceful co-existence among people of different religions can be a positive contribution to their nation’s future.
The government has recognized Dominican Convent School for its significant academic achievements. The tuition paid by these students helps to support Dominican Study Center, an Urdu Christian school that serves children whose parents cannot afford to pay fees. To make it possible for girls who live in outlying districts to attend school, the Sisters opened hostels in Bahawalpur and Loreto, a Christian village in the Thal Desert, northwest of Bahawalpur. Ibn-E-Mariam (Son of Mary) School in Loreto has also grown ten-fold since its founding, and in later years Dominican Primary School was established in Multan.
The Sisters’ ministries also extended beyond the classroom. Emergency and basic health needs of the people were served in medical dispensaries staffed by the Sisters in Loreto and Fatimapur. In response to needs expressed by the people, the Sisters started adult education—catechetical, sewing, typing, and English classes—with an emphasis on developing lay leadership. The Sisters knew that one day they would no longer be in Pakistan, and they resolved to work toward building a future church of Pakistan that would be led by the native Pakistanis. That vision has now become a reality. Catechists, members of religious communities, priests, and bishops of Pakistan are now almost all native-born Pakistani women and men.
In 1971 the Sisters became involved in the work of the Pastoral Institute in Multan. There they have taught courses and given retreats for young women and men religious from many communities, worked with ecumenical groups devoted to deepening understanding between Christians and Muslims, and organized programs for seminarians, catechists, and adult faith leaders from parishes throughout the Multan Diocese and beyond. They have become vocal advocates for human rights protesting unjust treatment of Christians and other religious minorities.
How your donations have helped
Our donors continue to make a difference around the world. Here are a few projects made possible by their generous gifts. Thank You!
Dominican Study Center in Bahawalpur
- This project benefits poor and orphan children, the majority of whom belong to the lowest caste of Pakistan society. Coming from minority communities from rural areas, their parents are either sanitation workers in urban areas or families that work for Muslim landlords. These families live below the poverty level. High commodity prices, electricity bills and other expenses of daily life prohibit their ability to pay school dues.
- A project enabling 15 children of the Marwari Hindu Tribe—who belong to the marginalized, oppressed, and laborer Hindu community—to attend school by providing them with tuition, room, board, uniforms, and school supplies.
Sister Purissima Hostel in Bahawalpur
- The hostel seeks to provide quality education to all children without any prejudice of race, religion, or caste. The goal is to empower children and provide supportive services to promote their education. The parents of these children are either daily wage workers or sharecroppers. They are from a nomadic culture which often places little value on the education of their children.
Girls Hostel in Loreto
- Thirty girls from poverty-stricken families, who otherwise could not attend school, are being housed in the Loreto Girls Hostel. They will receive lodging, nutritious meals, and religious education in a safe environment.
Your care and generosity have also enabled us to reach out to the young students in our hostels who attend our schools; you have made it possible for them to receive proper nutrition as well as school supplies.