01/26/2016, 16.47
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Indian priest ordained in Abu Dhabi could not resist the Lord’s calling

Fr Darick Paul D'Souza was ordained in early January by Mgr Hinder in Abu Dhabi. Son of migrant parents, his calling came when the apostolic vicar of southern Arabia was ordained bishop. “I never really imagined that one day I would become a priest,” he said. In fact, despite having a good job, “I had to become a priest." For now, “my place is in India."

Bangalore (AsiaNews) – Fr Darick Paul D'Souza is one of two Indian priests ordained by the apostolic vicar of southern Arabia earlier this year. He comes from an Indian Catholic family that moved to Dubai in search of work when he was very little. In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), his parents raised their children according to Christian teachings.

“I never really imagined that one day I would become a priest,” the newly ordained clergyman said.  “Yet when Mgr Paul Hinder was ordained bishop of Arabia, something struck me. I realised there was something beautiful in the consecrated life, in bearing witness to the Gospel. That ceremony made me realise that I had to be in the service of God and humanity. The calling became increasingly clear.”

Speaking to AsiaNews, he described how his priestly vocation developed. “At first I did not think it that was my task, but then I realised it was God’s calling.” Being raised Catholic in the UAE “was possible,” he explained, “because freedom on religion is guaranteed in the seven Emirates.

“The Emirates are a hospitable and peaceful nation. Although 90 per cent of the local population is Muslim, Catholic immigrants can freely profess their beliefs, without restrictions. Indeed, here religion is strengthened and kept alive by the Christian community and the local church. "

Approximately 80 per cent of the resident population comes from other Asian countries, like India, the Philippines and Sri Lanka. Workers find their place society and economically help their families back home.

Fr Darick Paul had a good, well-paid job in information technology. He was an adult when he developed his vocation, conscious of what it meant for his future life.

"I spent two years developing my vocation,” he explained, “but in the end I realised that it was inevitable. So I told Mgr Hinder I had to become a priest. That was my choice."

As for bearing witness to the Gospel in a Muslim country, he noted, “Our mission in this part of the world is a great challenge, bearing witness to our faith in a respectful manner, without trying to convince anyone; only to show with facts the beauty the Gospel. This is also Pope Francis’ message."

Other challenges came after his calling. "I went to my employer and told him I wanted to quit my job. Then, he told me that the company was willing to offer me a better position. I was shocked; I did not know how to handle the situation." Still, the "decision was irreversible."

After six more months at the firm to meet his job obligations, the new priest undertook an initial period of novitiate in Sri Lanka followed by training in Karnataka, his parents’ home state, with the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin.

After his ordination in Abu Dhabi, he went back to Karnataka. For now, he will be assistant priest at St Anthony Catholic Church in Bangalore where his activities will be mostly confessions and finances.  However, “I am not ruling out going back to the Emirates; my vocation developed there. For now though, my place is in India."

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