The Prophets in the Desert
In Derekabad Parish many Oblates came to serve. Fr. Temsey Croos OMI, while being the parish priest of Rangpur saw the special and challenging needs of the people of Derekabad and Azizabad and took steps to develop the area into a parish. Derekabad is a large desert area. It confuses the traveler because of the blowing wind the paths in the desert vanish. The weather conditions go to the extremes, i.e. warmest in the summer and coldest in winter. The Parish covers a huge area today it includes Muzafargarh, Dera Ghazi Khan and Kot Adhu. It takes a long time to reach the sub-stations from the main Parish. The Oblates, besides their busy timetable, measure up to the needs of the faithful whether they be social, cultural, spiritual or financial. They are hand in hand with the parishners in all their joys and sorrows; to get them justice, lands and basic human rights.
In 1975 the Mission at Derekabad was started by a Diocesan Priest Fr. Derek Masquita. He accommodated many faithful Christian families coming from different parts of the country to better their lives. After Father Derek Masquita the people suffered neglect till the Mission was handed over to the Oblates. Before the arrival of the Oblates, the educational level of the parishioners was very low. In 1985, Fr. Temsey Croos OMI was appointed the first Parish Priest by Bishop Patras Yusuf, of Bishop of Multan Diocese. Fr. Temsey began living in a hut. He started working with the people day and night. His prophetic services were visible and well appreciated by the people of the area. He was the one who could build houses for the poor parishioners. His first step in the prophetic role was the opening of schools for the children. While supporting the parishioners to earn their livelihood, Father Temsey Croos OMI also constructed a Marian Shrine for all the faithful which is known today as “Shrine of the Queen of the Desert”. Every year people from all over the country come in pilgrimage to visit and have personal devotion to the Malka-e-Thal. Fr. Temsey’s untiring efforts to witness the Gospel through his words and deeds were wonderful and prophetic (Razi, 2016).
Because the churches were to be constructed, people gathered under the trees for Eucharistic celebrations and other spiritual exercises. In fact there was no electricity in those areas and people managed with oil-lamps. It was Fr. Temesy’s prophetic effort in 1992 which could make electricity available for the parishners. He was a man of action and could take strong steps for the achievements of Christian rights (Perera, 1993). Armando, Trindade, Bishop of Lahore was glad to see Father’s tremendous work in the desert. He was highly impressed that the Oblates were great missionaries and that they had contributed a lot to the Local Church (Perera, Derekabad Mission, 1994).