Presently, there are six members assigned to the Pakistan Mission Unit. Five are ordained Columbans and one long term Columban lay missionary. These missionaries come from three different countries; namely, Ireland, New Zealand and Philippines.
Columbans work in three parishes in two separate dioceses, Lahore, in Punjab province to the north-east and Hyderabad, down south in Sindh. They are more than 1000 kilometres apart. Two Columbans are assigned to Lahore, one being fulltime in the part urban, part rural Columban parish in Lahore city. The other is involved in the formation through teaching, giving courses and retreats to diocesan seminarians, young religious and lay people who are being prepared for ministry in various church institutions.
In interior Sindh, in Hyderabad Diocese, Columbans minister in two parishes in Badin and Nagar Parkar, where one lay missionary and three ordained are assigned. In both dioceses, parish ministry involves working with some of the poorest and most oppressed people in Pakistan. Education, health care and human rights issues are urgent and ministries. Human rights work plus justice and peace issues provide an opportunity for inter-faith dialogue, as these issues are worked on, along with concerned Muslims and Hindus.
JPIC has always been a priority of Columbans in Pakistan. As well as been actively involved in human rights and justice issues at the grass roots level, Columbans have also been at the forefront at raising awareness on urgent national and international concerns. In the 1990¡¦s, this involved the Debt Campaign and the impact of Globalization on the poor. Today we are taking the initiative in raising awareness, through publications and workshops on climate change, which is already having a major impact on Pakistan, especially its water supply. These issues also provide the opportunity for inter-faith dialogue as they concern all people.
Women in Pakistan are very much second class citizens. Lay Missionaries have been journeying closely with them, listening to their stories, encouraging and supporting their active participation in community life and activities.
Formation and the empowerment of lay people is also a priority at the parish level, especially of young people. One local lay person is employed full time as a Co-Worker in the Columban parish in Lahore for the missionary animation of the local church.