Columban receives Pakistan’s highest civilian honour

31st March 2012 - by Fr Denis Carter


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A civic reception was held at St. Elizabeth Hospital, Hyderabad, on 26 March to honour Fr. Robert McCulloch, an Australian Columban priest, who received the Sitara-e-Quaid-Azam from the Governor of Sindh three days earlier for his services to Pakistan. This is Pakistan’s highest civilian award.

 
Fr McCulloch has worked in Pakistan since 1978 in the fields of education, health, and inter-faith relations. He recently moved to Rome where he now runs the Columban office there.
Amongst the civic, political and religious leaders who attended the Hyderabad reception were Bishop Max Rodrigues of the Catholic Diocese of Hyderabad and Sr. Catherine Abdullah, principal of St. Mary’s Girls High School. Fr McCulloch was praised for the work of St. Elizabeth Hospital under his leadership. The hospital was described as an outstanding beacon of compassion in Hyderabad especially through its medical outreach programmes, palliative care for the terminally ill, and flood relief activities. St. Elizabeth Hospital was held up as an example to other institutions in Hyderabad and Pakistan of how people of different faiths, cultures and languages can work together for the betterment and progress of Pakistan and its people.
Fr. McCulloch said that he was personally honoured in being awarded the Sitara-e-Quaid-Azam by the President and receiving it from the Governor of Sindh, Dr. Ishrat ul Ibad on 23 March. He said that the award also showed that the government of Pakistan recognized the presence and work of the Catholic Church throughout Pakistan and in interior Sindh. Fr. McCulloch said he was proud to receive an award which carried the name of the Quaid-e-Azam who founded Pakistan to be a nation based upon principles of unity, equality, and religious harmony.