But as he was reading the Bible in the small local Church, his voice was replaced by one much stronger.
“I didn’t grow up seeing priests often, so I didn’t know what pastoral life was until later in life,” he told MISSION Magazine. “During my childhood I loved singing, I wanted to learn music and become a singer. But I also loved being in Church, I was always either at school, in Church, or helping my mom in the fields. Other children my age would join me, and we would read the Bible together, and we would put our own music to the psalms.”
But one day, while reading the Gospel of Luke, he came across this passage: “For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?”
“And something happened to me that day,” Father Faryadd said. “I don’t know from where, but I had the thought of becoming a priest, as if it was revealed to me. Here I was, thinking about making a lot of money as a singer, and I realized that that was not what God was calling me for. Nobody ever suggested I became a priest, no priest ever advised me to do it. So it truly feels like from my personal prayer life it was revealed to me that I was called to the priesthood.”
Daily prayer and reflection are something he grew up with, even though his family was one of 12 Catholic families in a village with some 500 Muslim families. His small town within the Punjab region in Pakistan was one of 200 that a missionary priest had been tasked with ministering to.
“We didn’t have Sunday Mass,” he said. “We had Mass on the day the priest came, and it was an incredible celebration.”
Every other day, however, he still found himself and the other Catholic children his age going to Church, studying together, and learning their faith.
“But my love for Christ began long before I could actually comprehend that I was praying: one of the happiest memories of my childhood was spending an hour lying on my mom’s bosom, as she prayed in our home before going to work in the fields at four in the morning,” he said. “I continued doing this through my infancy, and then I would join her in prayer. Even if it was too early in the day to stay awake!”
Father Faryadd is currently in Rome for the second time in his life: he was first in the Eternal City in early 2010, earning his degree in Church history. Today, he is back in school, getting his doctorate at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University, with the support of a grant from the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, one of the four Pontifical Mission Societies and the one for which the World Mission Sunday collection is taken up.
Entering the seminary, Father Faryadd embarked on a transformative journey of growth and learning. While the experience was mostly positive, he candidly acknowledged encountering both joys and challenges along the way, particularly during the minor seminary. Yet the guidance of dedicated formators, including a Belgian Capuchin who taught Biblical history, profoundly impacted his spiritual development. The lessons he learned from this missionary proved invaluable as he continued his studies in Rome to become a formator of future priests.
When asked about life for Christians in Pakistan, Father Faryadd’s tone turned somber. He highlighted the difficulties Christians face, exacerbated by the rise of radical Islam and the persistent indoctrination that portrays those of different faiths as inferior. Discrimination, both subtle and overt, permeates their daily lives. Limited employment opportunities exist for Christians, typically relegated to menial positions considered beneath Muslims. Moreover, the existence of blasphemy laws hangs as a constant threat, making it risky for Christians to express their faith openly. Mere accusations, without evidence or due process, can lead to violence and loss of life.
“Generally, life in Pakistan is not easy, but it is even worse for a Christian,” he said. “It is not a very pleasant life… we have to be constantly careful, we do not speak about our religion in public, even amongst our friends. We do not feel free to discuss our faith because even if these incidents surrounding the blasphemy laws don’t happen very often, they happen often enough that we have to be afraid.”
Despite these challenges, Father Faryadd emphasized the importance of interfaith harmony and understanding, calling for compassion and prayer.
In closing, Father Faryadd shared his prayer intention for readers of MISSION Magazine. He earnestly requested prayers for mutual understanding and compassion among all people.
“Christians in Pakistan, when they think of the Western world, we think of you as our elder brothers and sisters in the faith, as the center of Christianity,” he said. “We feel very connected with you all, in faith and spirit, strengthened by your faith and your ability to live your faith openly. You can make the sign of the cross in public and not fear you will be stoned.
We hope to one day be able to have this too, but until then, we ask that you value and appreciate this right, not taking it for granted.”