There is a Christian chapel in the State University of Faisalabad, and it’s the first place of worship present in a public athenaeum in Pakistan. It was opened on April 15, 2018, in the complex of the Agricultural University of Archbishop Joseph Arshad of Islamabad-Rawalpindi and Apostolic Administrator of the diocese of Faisalabad, in the presence of Muhammad Iqbal Zafar, Vice-Chancellor, of Professors, Religious, and students. As Archbishop Arshad said to <the Vatican agency> Fides, the chapel is called Saint Mary. Archbishop Arshad congratulated the whole Christian community of the University of Agriculture for having promoted the building of a Christian place of worship, next to the existing one of the Islamic religion. “The construction of a church in the University complex launches a message of love and harmony in the whole country. Christian people will come to this church and will pray for the progress and prosperity of the University and of Pakistan,” he said.
“Today the words of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Founder of Pakistan, are realized, who in his address to the Nation in 1947, said: ’You are free, free to go to your temples. You are free to go to your mosques or to whatever other places of worship, in this State of Pakistan. You can profess any religion or creed,’” he added. The Archbishop thanked the Civil Authorities for offering a place of worship for Christians, respecting religious freedom.
Vice-Chancellor Muhammad Zafar Iqbal affirmed: “This church was built to satisfy the spiritual needs of students. The mosque and the church are both sacred places to worship God. We believe in inter-religious harmony: the construction of the chapel is a concrete example of brotherhood between Christians and Muslims. This is the first time in Pakistan’s history that a church is built in a State University. We hope that other institutions will follow this example, to guarantee the rights of religious minorities, as affirmed in Pakistan’s Constitution. Christians are our brothers and sisters because God has made all human beings the same.”
Archbishop Arshad also celebrated Mass in the new church, anointing the altar and blessing the place. In his homily, he thanked God and all those who worked to carry out the project, and he invited young people to “give importance to higher education and to contribute actively to the common good of Pakistan.”