Nearly 40 priests from different Dioceses in Pakistan attended the just concluded Annual Young Priests' Conference held in Lahore, Pakistan. The 3-day get-together was organized by the National Clergy Commission Pakistan to provide on-going formation for young priests not less than a year and not more than five years ordained. The Conference was also intended to promote a closer relationship among the young priests so that they can support each other and share with one another their joys and struggles.
We, the five participants from the Diocese of Hyderabad, experienced a tense moment when, as we were about to board the train for our 16-hour journey, the report came through of an explosion in the same city where we are heading for our meeting.
Not to mention the bedbugs on our berth and the general unease as cities across the country everyone was on high alert after what proved to be a deadly terror attack. The fact that four of us were foreigners from three different countries plus a local priest was enough reason to raise curiosity from other passengers and to catch the attention of security personnel. Immediately after the blast, counter-terrorism operations were enforced in all major cities. We were woken up from our deep sleep early in the morning by two police men who verified our documents and thoroughly inspected our luggage. At least 5 more deadly attacks were carried out the following days across the country. The 3-day conference went ahead as planned. All the while we kept the innocent victims in our thoughts and prayers.
The valuable 3-day Young Priests' Conference this year was inspired by St. Paul's words from the letter to the Galatians, “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.” Various topics were presented during the gathering ranging from the Exhortation of Pope Francis Amoris Laetitia, New Trends and Challenges in Pastoral Life, to Abundant Life and Priestly Discipleship based on the Gospel of John, and the Prophetic and Mystical Dimension of Priesthood.
The last day of the conference was full of fruitful exchange of views on how the various topics inspired and renewed the participants. Different suggestions and recommendations were also made for next year's meeting.
Edson Paguntalan mhm