Pakistan - Closing of the Diocesan Inquiry into the Cause of Beatification and Canonization of Akash Bashir, Layman, Past Pupil of Don Bosco

15 March 2024

(ANS - Lahore) - On Friday, 15 March 2024, at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Lahore, Pakistan, Archbishop Sebastian Francis Shaw, OFM, officially closed the Diocesan Inquiry into the life, martyrdom and reputation of the Servant of God Akash Bashir (22 June 1994 - 15 March 2015), a Cause that had been opened two years ago, on 15 March 2022.

Exactly nine years have passed since 15 March 2015, the day young Akash Bashir, a Don Bosco alumnus, sacrificed himself to prevent a suicide bomber from causing a massacre in St John's Church in Youhannabad, a Christian neighbourhood in Lahore, Pakistan. Akash Bashir was 20 years old, had studied at the Don Bosco Technical Institute in Lahore and had become a security volunteer.

Archbishop Sebastian Francis Shaw, OFM, presided over the closing session of the Diocesan Inquest, in the presence of the Rev. Fr. Amjad Yousaf, Episcopal Delegate; Rev. Fr. Rafhan Fayyaz, Promoter of Justice, and Fr. Patrick Samuel OFM Cap., Notary. The Original Acts, the Transcript and the Public Copy were presented, declared authentic and entrusted to Bishop Germano Penemote, the one who was entrusted with the task of transmitting the Acts to the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints in Rome.

The Eucharistic celebration was presided over by the Archbishop of Lahore, with the Apostolic Nuncio to Pakistan, Bishop Germano Penemote, the Bishop of Faisalabad, Bishop Joseph Indrias Rehmat, and the Bishop of Multan, Bishop Yousaf Sohan, as concelebrants. The parents and siblings of Akash Bashir were present. Priests from all parishes in the diocese, representatives of all religious congregations in the country, as well as seminarians, Salesian alumni and students of the Salesian Institute devoutly participated in the solemn Eucharist.

In their remarks, Archbishop Shaw and the other bishops praised Akash Bashir's courage and unwavering faith, expressing gratitude for the completion of the diocesan phase and assuring prayers for the future.

The Catholic Church of Pakistan experienced this event with great participation, this being the first Cause of Beatification and Canonization for Christians in Pakistan. The main promoter of the Cause is the Salesian Congregation, Co-promoter is the World Confederation of Past Pupils of Don Bosco, Postulator Fr. Pierluigi Cameroni, SDB, and the Vice Postulator Fr. Gabriel de Jesús Cruz Trejo, SDB.

It is significant that in the intentions for the month of March, in which the Day of Prayer and Fasting for Missionary Martyrs is celebrated, the Pope dedicated the video released by the World Prayer Network to those who live the faith despite persecution and lack of freedom: their testimony "is a sign that we are on the right path". In the video, in which the Pope tells the poignant story of a woman martyr in our times, there is also a reference to Akash Bashir. The Pope invites people to pray "that those in various parts of the world who risk their lives for the Gospel may infect the Church with their courage and missionary drive".

Like the Servant of God Akash Bashir, today, there are many hidden martyrs, who lead ordinary lives with consistency and the courage to accept the grace of witnessing to the end, even unto death. They have not denied or forgotten their faith, but have held it firm and demonstrated their fidelity to Jesus Christ. That is why they indicate the just path of the Church.



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