Pakistan – Christians in prayer and on pilgrimage for the beatification of Akash Bashir

16 May 2024

(ANS – Lahore) – "The life of the Servant of God Akash Bashir shines as an inspiration and ray of light in Pakistan and in the world afflicted by terrorism and unrest", Fr Lazar Aslam, a Capuchin Franciscan priest serving in Lahore, says. In May, the Catholic community of the archdiocese intensified prayer for Akash Bashir, Past Pupil of Don Bosco, the first Servant of God in the history of Pakistan. And the pilgrimage before his tomb is fervent, especially for young Pakistanis: "His faith in God motivated him to protect and serve his community, and led him to perform a gesture of extreme altruism in the face of a suicide bomber", the priest says.

Akash Bashir was born in Pakistan on 22 June 1994, to a humble family, and studied at the Don Bosco Technical Institute in Lahore. He led a simple life, had dreams for his future, lived with his family, had friends at school and at work, enjoyed playing sports, and prayer was part of his life. On 15 March 2015, one Sunday morning, a suicide bomber attempted to enter St John’s church in Youhanabad, a Christian district of Lahore, which at that time had more than a thousand faithful attending Mass. Realising the situation, Akash did not hesitate to sacrifice himself to prevent the bomber from causing a massacre in the church. On 15 March 2022, on the seventh anniversary of his death, the diocesan phase of the canonical process for the proclamation of martyrdom was opened by the Church of Lahore.

Fr Aslam says that “Jesus taught that the highest form of love is to lay down one's life for friends, and his act of altruism reflected these teachings. Akash's last statement, ‘I will die, but I will not let you in’ perfectly expresses his courage and devotion.”

“His story” he says “serves as a powerful testimony to the transforming power of faith, resilience and sacrifice. It offers hope and inspiration to Christians in Pakistan and beyond. His life reminds us to embody unwavering faith and stand firm in the face of adversity. His extraordinary journey continues to guide and enlighten our community.”

According to Father Nobal Lal, Rector of the Salesian Community there, the profound experience of Salesian spirituality that derives from Don Bosco's Preventive System “had a profound and personal impact on Akash’s human and spiritual formation. It led him to develop a deep understanding and friendship with Christ. He would often pause for a moment of prayer at the grotto in the courtyard of St John's Catholic Church in Youhanabad, before beginning his service. The three fundamental principles of Salesian spirituality – preventive system, holistic education and love for God – have had a significant influence on his development of faith, they have been important pillars in determining his path”, he notes.

“In this month of May we pray intensely for the beatification of the Servant of God Akash Bashir, Past Pupil of Don Bosco”, says Fr Pierluigi Cameroni, Postulator General of the Causes of Saints of the Salesian Family. The Postulator notes: “For the Christians of Youhanabad, for the Church of God that is in Pakistan and for the entire Salesian Family, Akash, with his great faith, is exactly this: a beacon, an example to follow. Many go to his grave to pray and ask for intercession (...). He had committed himself to living as an upright and good Christian citizen, as Don Bosco wanted, and had become a security volunteer in his parish church at a time when the situation in Pakistan was worrying with the risk of encountering suicide bombers who targeted religious sites” Fr Cameroni says.

The sacrifice of Akash Bashir had a huge impact on the Christian community – Catholic and Anglican – in Pakistan, but the Muslim community was also deeply affected: “Many in Islam have veneration for this testimony of faith, of strength, and therefore I believe it is a seed that will be a form of reconciliation, of prophecy, coming above all from a young Christian.”

“This young Salesian Past Pupil, the first Pakistani on his way to the altars, represents all Christians and all young people who are brave and proud of their faith”, he concludes.


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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