Mgr Paul Hinder led the ordination ceremony of Fr Darick Paul D'Souza and Fr Arun Raj Manuel. Both priests were born into Indian immigrant families for whom the Church is "the spiritual home". Indeed, “those who live abroad call the Christian community home amid a cultural environment of different traditions". The best evidence that different religions can coexist "is based on the daily expression of Christian life."
Abu Dhabi (AsiaNews) – Although a minority religion in the Gulf States, Christianity "continues to be fertile in terms of vocations. The evidence lies with the ordination of two priests of Indian origin, Fr Darick Paul D'Souza (Karnataka), and Fr Arun Raj Manuel (Kerala),” said Mgr Paul Hinder, apostolic vicar of southern Arabia. The overjoyed prelate told AsiaNews that these are “the first Christian ordinations ever in the history of the UAE, a real treat for the whole community."
The ordination of the two Capuchin priests was held on 8 January, feast day of the Lord’s Baptism. Mgr Hinder said that some 4,000 people attended the service, “excited by the extraordinary event.”
The two priests were born in India, but moved to the Emirates when they were very little, following their parents emigrate who had come for work.
"Here 80 per cent of the population comes from abroad,” the vicar noted, “in search of a better future for their families and their children. For these people, the Church represents a spiritual hearth,” he explained. “Those who live abroad call the Christian community home amid a cultural environment of different traditions”.
Although Fr Darick and Fr Arun belong to two Catholic families from India, probably what triggered "their vocation was when I was ordained bishop. For both that was something really important, something unexpected. "
The apostolic vicar said that after his appointment, the two youths approached him for help to "recognise their vocation and guide them on the path of Christian mission. But I could not guarantee their presence here in the Vicariate, because of the civil laws of this country. "
Eventually the two future priests chose to return to their parents’ dioceses and join the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin. "They underwent their priestly training there."
For the ordination ceremony, Mgr Hinder asked the provincials to organise the event in Abu Dhabi. "The superiors accepted, he explained, “and so the ceremony was held here.”
“The two young men were very to be ordained where they grew up and where their vocation grew. For Catholics, their celebration was a real joy and thousands wanted to take part. "
After the Mass, the priests thanked the community from “whom they received support to see their vocation grow."
As present, they are back in India. "Next Sunday (24 January) another ceremony awaits them in their respective parishes. A period of apostolate will follow in the community. But noting rules out that they might come back in the future to the Gulf States. "
As for co-existence of the Christian community in a majority Muslim area, the bishop noted that "the most important thing is bearing witness to the faith in the workplace, with neighbours, in everyday life. What matter is being honest and bearing witness with one’s attitude to the Christian doctrine."