.- When a fire broke out last week at a Capuchin friary in Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, both local Christians and Muslims rushed to put out the blaze.
On July 16, a fire began at Karachi's “Capuchin House” around 11:00 a.m. People in the neighborhood heard a huge blast, and then saw a raging fire engulf the residences of the friary.
“We thank God that no lives have been lost and the friars are safe,” Asif Nazir, a local teacher, told CNA July 21.
“Only a assistant parish priest, Fr. Javed Kashif, sustained burn injuries on his hands while trying to extinguish the fire.”
Nazir explained that the lack of casualties was because “the friars were in the city on their missionary assignments, and the rest of the staff were on summer vacations.”
He added that it has been confirmed that the fire was caused by an an electrical short circuit.
“The Muslim neighbors rushed for help in extinguishing the fire, which brings a ray of hope for dialogue, communal harmony, and sustaining peace,” Nazir reflected.
He lamented that the friary's “precious books, documentation file folders, and electronics such as computers” have all “turned into ashes.”
“The quantified assessment of actual damage is under process,” he added.
The friars have asked for prayers, support and encouragement as they work to restore their home.
At the time of the fire, Fr. Qaiser Feroze was on a pastoral visit to the Agha Khan Hospital, while Fr. Javed Kashif and Fr. Bernard Younas were at St. Philip’s parish.
The Capuchin Franciscans are among the 11 religious priests in the Archdiocese of Karachi, who serve alongside the local Church's 26 diocesan priests. Together, they serve some 166,000 Catholics, who constitute just over one percent of the area's total population.
The archdiocese does works of charity, serving the youth and women with education, and health and social development. Both Christians and Muslims are served by the 14 archdiocesan high schools.
Pakistan's population is about 97 percent Muslim, with Hindus and Christians each constituting nearly two percent of the total population.