Saint Patrick's Cathedral, Karachi
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Alvin Robert Cornelius
The first church in Sindh (except for possibly one in Thatta) was initially built on the grounds of this cathedral in 1845, and was called St. Patrick’s Church. It was in April 1881 that the present cathedral was opened, since the Catholic community grew in number, and the need for a larger place of worship became apparent. Despite the construction of the new building, the little church continued to function until it was destroyed by a storm in 1885.
The present-day cathedral is built in Gothic Revival architecture; it measures 52 metres by 22 metres, and has the capacity to accommodate at least 1,500 worshippers at the same time. It was designed and realized by three members of the Society of Jesus: The design of the cathedral was conceived by the architect Father Karl Wagner, SJ and the construction was supervised by the lay Brothers George Kluver, SJ and Herman Lau, SJ.
The Gazetteer of the Province of Sindh provides a description of the cathedral:
"Its exterior is not ornamental, though striking from a distance, but money and art have been lavished on the interior. The chancel, itself spacious, acquires a special impressiveness but its additional height, while the noble contours of the aspiring altar are seen to the best advantage. The whole interior is painted in oil and the windows are all of stained glass, the members of the congregation."
A bomb exploded inside the Cathedral causing an injury and destruction. The explosion on December 22, 1998, occurred minutes after the congregation celebrated Mass. Most people had departed when the bomb went off. One woman was wounded and there was partial damage to the interior of the 120-year-old Cathedral.
The Cathedral, with a seating capacity of 2,000, used to be the biggest Catholic church in the country. On 9 November 2011 the apostolic nuncio to Pakistan Archbishop Edgar Pena Parra blessed St. Peter’s Church, Karachi, now the largest Catholic church in Pakistan. It can seat 5,000 people.
Recent Parish Priests
- Fr. Modestine Pöttgens OFM 1961-1966
- Fr. Francis de Souza 1966-1975
- Fr. Robert D'Silva 1974-1983
- Fr. Anthony Martis 1983-1992
- Fr. James DeSouza 1992-2000
- Fr. Archilles DeSouza 2000-2001
- Fr. Joseph D'Mello 2001-2007
- Fr. Edward Joseph 2007-2015
- Fr. Mario A. Rodrigues 2015-
From the 1920s to the 70s, the Cathedral had a polyphonic choir of about thirty members; The members were: Sopranos: Jessie Fernandez, Olive D'Costa, Mary D'Silva, Hilda Freitas, Winnie Lobo, Carol Lobo
Altos: Essie Menezes, Emma Correa, Nita Dias, Maureen Rodrigues
Bases: Eustach Caldera, Sonoo D'Abreo, Austen Frietas, Isaac Noronha, R.C Fernandes
Tenors: Vincent D'Abreo, Vincent Lobo, Glenn D'Abreo, Hector Lewis, Joseph Moniz
The choir was conducted at first in the 20s and 30s by Carlos Fernandes, who was replaced by C.M. Lobo until the early 70s when he was replaced by his nephew Vincent Lobo. The organists for the choir had been C.M. Lobo before he took over the position of director and then Leo DeSousa who was followed by Fr. Ronnie Colaco until the choir folded in May 1974. It was never replaced by a polyphonic choral group of its previous capability.
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