The vicar of Arabia underlines the openness to "students of different nationalities" under the banner of common basic values. The school must prepare people capable of making "effective contributions" to the encounter between "cultures and traditions". To date, it hosts 300 pupils from 22 countries, but at full capacity it can accommodate up to 1800.
Ras Al Khaimah (AsiaNews) - The school is a reference point that guarantees an education based on basic "values" for "students of different nationalities", underlining the basic principles which are "mutual tolerance and respect," said Msgr. Paul Hinder, apostolic vicar of southern Arabia (United Arab Emirates, Oman and Yemen), during the inauguration of St. Mary's High School yesterday in Ras Al Khaimah, one of the seven emirates of the UAE.
Furthermore in a context of dialogue, the prelate recalled the relevance and importance of the Document on human fraternity, signed by Pope Francis and the great Oman of al-Azhar Ahmad al-Tayyib last February in Abu Dhabi.
In addition to the vicar of Arabia, the inauguration ceremony was attended by Sheikh Ahmed bin Saqr Al Qasimi, president of the economic zone of Ras Al Khaimah, director of the school Joseph Flynn and other senior officials in the area. Addressing the local authorities, Msgr. Hinder wanted to praise the figure of Sheikh Zayed, father of the nation, whose work helped transform the nation from a small island into a modern and avant-garde state.
The school is located in the urban district of Khalifa Bin Zayed and offers a British-style educational curriculum, ranging from the early years of schooling to high school (the so-called A-level). The institute is run by the Philippine province of the Sisters of Saint Paul of Chartres, a religious congregation born in France and engaged in the education sector for over 300 years. The nuns also run the Saint Mary school in Muhaisnah (Dubai).
In his inaugural speech Msgr. Hinder turned to the teaching staff, inviting them to "prepare" students "to be citizens of the world" and who can make "effective contributions" to the encounter between "cultures and traditions" based on "tolerance and mutual respect". To date, it hosts about 300 students of 22 different nationalities, but at full capacity it can accommodate up to 1800 students.
The apostolic vicariate of Southern Arabia includes the United Arab Emirates (Eau), Oman and Yemen, with a total surface area of approximately 929,000 km2. According to official statistics, out of a total of almost 43 million people, there are 999,000 Catholics. The territory is divided into 16 parishes; there are 18 diocesan priests, in addition to 49 other priests belonging to religious institutes and a permanent deacon living in the diocese. There are 50 active sisters in the area - and belonging to different orders - plus a lay brother.
Encouraging signs have come from an area with a vast Muslim majority in terms of dialogue and discussion. In February, the Emirates was the first ever gulf nation to welcome a pontiff: over 120 thousand faithful attended Pope Francis' mass, for a momentous event re-proposed by one of the main local broadcasters in a documentary. The visit is joined by other major events, including the reopening of the oldest site, the inauguration of a new parish in Oman and a growing presence of lay people in the mission.