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Sunday 20 May 2012

Westminster Cathedral Night of vigil a spiritual success!

Archbishop Joseph Coutts read a homily to a captive audience

Bishop Michael Nazir Ali was invited to speak about the life of Shahbaz Bhatti and the ongoing persecution in Pakistan.

Wilson Chowdhry was asked to place a photo of Shahbaz Bhatti at alter below the main pulpit area.  As Wilson read a biblical passage Bishop Michaeal  Nazir Ali lit a candle for the slain Federal Minster.  Akmal Zahid from Nelson Asian Church led the Lords Prayer in Urdu.
Wilson Chowdhry led the ceremonial procession carrying the BPCA cross through the streets and into the Cathedral.  A reminder to us all that we are all required to carry our own crosses.  Vinny Masih seen behind Wilson asked a Bishop to pray over the cross so it is now officially blessed!

Images © Weenson Oo / Aid to the Church in Need.

A Night to Remember

By John Pontifex

THE plight of Christians persecuted for their faith was the focus of prayer, song and reflection at the first-ever Night of Witness held at Westminster Cathedral.

Bishops – both from the UK and overseas – led yesterday’s (Thursday, 17th May) event at which Christians from countries marked by persecution played central roles in raising awareness of ongoing acts of religious oppression.

Organised by Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, the Night of Witness began with more than 1,000 people filling Westminster Cathedral for a Mass highlighting the importance of religious freedom, celebrated by Bishop Declan Lang of Clifton, chairman of the international affairs department of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

People leaving the service gathered on the cathedral piazza for an outdoor rally which began with Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster welcoming special guests Archbishop Joseph Coutts of Karachi, Pakistan, and Coptic Catholic Bishop Joannes Zakaria of Luxor, Egypt.
Among other senior clergy attending the event were Emeritus Archbishop Kevin McDonald of Southwark, Mgr Keith Newton, Ordinary of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, Archbishop Athanasius Toma Dawod, Head of the Syrian Orthodox Church in the UK and Emeritus Anglican Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali.

During the rally, Dr Nazir-Ali gave a speech stressing the importance of religious freedom, comparing and contrasting problems in the UK with those in Egypt, Pakistan, Iran and elsewhere.
He said: “We are approaching a time in this country where we will have to struggle for fundamental freedoms for Christians to manifest our beliefs and maintain our Christian institutions.

“We will face this – we are already facing this – in this country and so the example of our brothers and sisters from elsewhere will I hope sustain us.”

With Catholic performance poet Sarah de Nordwall acting as MC, the outdoor event included performances by the West End Gospel Choir, Catholic pop group ooberfuse, singers Helen Munt and Hammad Baily and the Eliot Smith Dance Company.
Interspersed with the acts were a series of short videos about the persecuted Church produced by Aid to the Church in Need especially for the event.

The videos explored themes of persecution and its causes developed in ACN’s latest publication Christians and the Struggle for Religious Freedom which was launched at the event, complete with an introduction by leading UK media expert Dr Austen Ivereigh, co-founder of Catholic Voices.

The rally ended with a procession back into the cathedral fronted by a vast wooden cross with Pakistani Christians from Nelson in Lancashire and Wilson Chowdhry, chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association.

Mr Chowdhry said: “The Night of Witness held at Westminster Cathedral was a great spiritual success.
“To be able to gather with our brothers and sisters from a number of different communities, which continue to experience hatred and persecution in their home copuntries, was an amazing experience and shows our solidarity for each other.”


  1. I was surprised, NO person from asian churchs in EAST LONDON, because there are lots of them. Well done to Asian Catholic Community of Nelson . David dean , Bernard Variam , Vincent Masih ,Shamas Khokhar ,and one or two more brothers thank you for taking time and effort to attend Westminster Cathedral Vigil Mass may God Bless You All.Please look in to this Mr.Chowdhry WHY Mr. Chowdhry ??

  2. I did not organise the event it was organised by ACNUK? They wanted a small group of participants and I have always worked favourably with Nelson Church so suggested them. Churches across the country were free to attend and my email distribution of the flyer was sent to over 10,000 people including London Pastors. What more do you want. I had not written up the post for these images as I was awaiting the press release from ACNUK and used the posting to share images with local papers ACNUK are aware of this)? I have written a short part complete article to assuage your concern but do not accurately understand what your point is?

  3. Thank you ACNUK for organising such a memorable night. And also thank you Wilson, for all your efforts. Wilson, you have communicated this event and previous ones through your blog, facebook, twitter, emails and post for all to see. Keep it up brother, God bless you.

  4. Thank you for you article. I have placed this on my blog in Spanish.