First ever profession of First Vows of a Jesuit in Pakistan

By Joseph Pham Van Chung, SJ

Saturday, 24 February, was a historic day for the Jesuits in Pakistan, especially for Fr Robbie D’Lima, who professed his First Vows at Saint Mary’s School, Al-Mehtab Park, Lahore. The school was chosen as a reminder of the intentional presence of the Jesuits in Pakistan.

Some years ago, while he was a diocesan priest, Fr D’Lima heard a strong call to join the Jesuits. Thus began a new chapter in his life. After spending more than two years as a novice in the UK and in Pakistan, Fr Robbie was deeply convinced of his call by Jesus and decided to commit himself more fully to becoming a friend of Christ in the Society of Jesus.

Present at the First Vow Mass were the Jesuit community, the Jesuit candidates, Fr D’Lima’s family from Karachi, collaborators from the three Jesuit schools, students from the three upper classes of the two Jesuit high schools, as well as other collaborators from two religious women’s congregations. The liturgy emphasised the profound meaning of the vows as a radical commitment to God and the people in three ways - being, serving, and dying.


First, the vows are the foundation for a new way of being. In his homily, Fr Juan Carlos Pallardel, the Pakistan Mission delegate, emphasised the heartfelt meaning of the vows as a desire to be one with God through the Spiritual Exercises. Therefore, Jesuits are called to respond to the wonders of life not merely through words and deeds but also in accordance with the Society’s Constitutions and Spiritual Exercises. To symbolise this commitment, Fr Robbie was presented with a copy of the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus, signifying his dedication to live as a Jesuit in the “Land of the Pure”, which has undergone quiet secularisation.

Second, the vows’ focus is on service. For Jesuits, the call to serve entails a conscious decision-making process. This space of decision-making is a space of tension, where choices must be made between poverty and comfort, humility and pride, universal mission and personal interest. Service is the fundamental principle that should guide all Jesuits, influencing what they eat, how they think, what they do and why, and, most importantly, in every circumstance, how they serve the poor and humble Jesus (De Statu Societatis, Chapter 3, 1).

Like the early Jesuits of more than 450 years ago, who were sent in response to the Mughal Emperor Akbar’s request to know more about Christianity, Fr D’Lima and the Jesuits continue to “try to respond” to the call to serve Christ in Pakistan, where the Christian minority comprises only 1.3 percent of the nation’s 240 million people. In this mission, Jesuits, as servants, are called to be one with and for the poor, the marginalised and oppressed, and those suffering due to inhumane life conditions.


At the end of the ceremony, Fr D’Lima received his vow cross, symbolising kenosis - a dying for others. Quoting from the 1559 Preface of the First Edition of the Constitutions attributed to Pedro de Ribadeneira, Fr Pallardel said: “Men crucified to the world, and to whom the world itself is crucified”. The grace bestowed through the vows serves as motivation to face the realities of life in Pakistan in all their complexities and challenges. Confronted by these realities, Jesuits are invited to constantly think, engage, and seek practical solutions to the struggles that the mission embraces in the Indus River area, following the example of Jesus Christ. The process of dying for mission is also an ongoing journey of understanding and experiencing God’s work in the vineyard.

The abundant consolation that Robbie D’Lima and the entire community gathered that day experienced is truly a gift from the Lord, who initiated this mission. The community thanks the Lord for the many missionaries who have lived, served, and died serving in the Pakistan Mission. Perhaps they are now witnessing the fruits of their long labour of sowing and cultivating. The community prays that God, through Mother Mary, will continue to accompany Fr D’Lima and the Jesuits in Pakistan, guiding and sustaining them in their mission.

First published by JCAP – the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific.

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Posted by Communications Office - Editor in Curia Generalizia
Communications Office
The Communications Office of the General Curia publishes news of international scope on the central government of the Society of Jesus and on the commitments of the Jesuits and their partners. It also handles media relations.

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