KARACHI: After the over two-and-a-half years of construction work and renovation at the St Patrick’s Cathedral, the main building was reopened for holding a special inaugural mass on Friday.
Everyone who came to attend the mass was happy to be back inside to listen to readings from the Holy Bible and the sweet voices of the church choir before lining up to be blessed by the new Archbishop of Karachi His Grace Benny Mario Travas.
The Archbishop also blessed the cathedral for re-dedication. While the church choir sang ‘Hallelujah’, an altar boy followed him with a silver bucket that was full of holy water and he dipped in it a stick with a brush or broom kind of a head to shake and sprinkle each of its walls with the water as a symbol of cleansing them. “God, have mercy on this house of prayer,” he said.
Outside, the ushers were glad to be helping people, guiding and encouraging them to freely step inside the cathedral. Just a few months ago these very ushers were stopping everyone from going inside or hinder the renovation work.
“We had put up a tent behind the cathedral for services and mass. But that is over and done with now,” Head Usher Julius Monteiro told Dawn. “Our glorious cathedral has come back to its original condition and much more,” he smiled.
When asked about the ‘more’, another usher Derek D’Souza pointed to the new bright lights inside as well as outside the cathedral along with the speakers and big LCD screens.
Tony, Frances. Massey and Lionel, four volunteers guarding the main gate also looked bright, happy and proud in their dark winter uniforms. “Did you notice that there is more greenery, too, around here now?” Massey pointed to the new young trees and plants around the grounds.
The 178-year-old historic cathedral is a landmark of Karachi. It has beauty, grace and significance of a heritage monument. The renovation and repairs here were being carried out by the Sindh heritage department, which brought in engineers and architects to strengthen the cathedral roof as well as its foundation. There was a new drainage system put in place to keep the groundwater from accumulating underneath. Some old stone and marble in the walls was also replaced.
Published in Dawn, October 16th, 2021