Sacred Heart Church, Gojra
The Sacred Heart Church in Gojra parish is part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Faisalabad in Pakistan. From 1931 to 1989 Father Pius D'Souza was the parish priest. In 1987 the parish was home to more than a thousand Catholics, or 25 percent of the local population. From 1989 to 1995 the parish was run by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Pakistan. The Holy Family Sisters run St. Albert's School in Gojra.
In September 1997, 107 young pilgrims started a 16-kilometer walk from the parish to a Marian shrine in Chak 424 J.B. village. Father Isaac Paul was the parish priest from 1997 to 2002. From November 2005 to January 2006, the parish held a fundraising drive beginning with a walk for victims of the Asian tsunami. The walk started from the Sacred Heart Church and was led by the parish priest.
On 1 August 2009, violence erupted in Gojra over the alleged desecration of the Quran. Seven people were burnt alive, 18 others were injured and more than 50 houses were set on fire.
Father Shafique Hadayat, the parish priest since 2005, celebrated the August 6 memorial Mass to remember those who died in anti-Christian rioting. Shahbaz Bhatti, Federal Minister for Minorities, also attended. Later he distributed checks worth 499,400 rupees (US$6,242) among grieving relatives and announced that the government would rebuild all the damaged houses.
Pope Benedict XVI and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari met in the Vatican on October 1, 2009. They discussed the recent episodes of violence against Christian communities in Gojra and Korian, where 10 Catholics were killed and 113 Christian houses were vandalized and looted on 30 July and 1 August 2009.
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