On Friday 22nd November 2019 the Brothers from the Sector of Pakistan, Br David Hawke (Visitor), Bishop Indrias Rehmat, Br Shahzad George (Sector Coordinator) and the local clergy gathered at La Salle Girls' School with Madam Nasreen, staff, pupils and parents to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of La Salle Gokhuwal.
Gokhowal is a school of which Saint John Baptist de La Salle would be proud, as is an excellent example of providing human education to the poor. Next door to the school is a new housing estate for the wealthy. It is separated from the school by a high wall topped with barb wire.
La Salle was established in 1994. Today, it is a flourishing school with students who have graduated and gone on to pursue careers in law, nursing and teaching. It has become a popular centre for learning in the local area.
The celebrations for the Silver Jubilee started with a concelebrated Mass in honour of our founder, Saint John Baptist de La Salle. Bishop Indrias Rehmat spoke briefly in his homily but as usual had something worthwhile to say and for us to hear. One of the highlights of the Mass was the liturgical dance as the gifts were brought up at the offertory. The girls of all different ages wore beautiful white gowns and carried various offerings. Br David Hawke provided the following words:
"Most Rev Bishop Indria Rehmat, Br Shahzad George Gill Sector Coordinator, Rev Fathers, Rev Brothers, Miss Nasreen Akhter, Principal, distinguished guests, teachers, staff and students.
We refer to any person or organization who celebrates 25 years as a "silver jubilee". People often adorn themselves with silver as it has an enduring quality lasting a long time. 25 years of a school is indeed a reason to celebrate and La Salle Gokhowal is no exception.
I have to admit, to having a soft spot for this school for it was one of the first schools I visited in Faisalabad when Br Dennis the then Auxiliary Visitor invited me here in the year 2000, a few years after the school opened. I have a clear memory of visiting the original classrooms where I observed that only one light globe hung from the ceiling with the teacher and students struggling to teach and learn in the very poor light. I could not help but compare this with the well- lighted classrooms in Australia. I went back to Australia, determined that we had to help La Salle and other places in Pakistan. That moment, in my opinion, was the beginning of a long and lasting relationship between Lasallians in the two countries.
In the early days, the school had very limited resources with the Brothers and other teachers doing their best to provide education to young people. The school initially was administered by the Brothers, then supervised by them and now has a full time lay Principal Ms Nasreen Akhter. This is indeed one among many signs of La Salle's growth.
Increasing enrolments is a sign of a good school. Congratulations to the parents who send their children here and to the Principal and teachers for the education offered.
Others will point out many successes over the 25 years, but it would be remiss of me if I did not mention the education of girls which is an increasing need in Pakistan. La Salle has responded to the needs of girls and along with the boys offers them a quality education in the Lasallian tradition.
I commend Br Dennis and his contemporaries on their vision of 25 years ago. I commend the Brothers and teachers who have contributed to developing La Salle down through the years.
To the students; you always give me a warm welcome to your school and on each occasion, I am impressed by the talents and gifts God has given each of you. May your talents and gifts continue to flourish here at school, and may you be prepared to serve society in the future. The well known Pakistani young woman Malala said in her speech upon receiving the Nobel peace prize: "Education is one of the blessings of life-and one of its necessities." La Salle is a blessing for countless young people.
Congratulations to all on this wonderful celebration of 25 years."
The Mass was followed by an extended programme of cultural dances, plays and speeches. The costumes worn for the cultural dances were a variety of vibrant colours. Everything was well staged and presented with great joy from the students. The day finished with lunch under a colourful marquee.
The school has come a long way since 1994 with special thanks in particular to Br Paul Smith, Ms Miranda Chow and the Lasallian Foundation.