Oman Catholics celebrate first priestly ordination
The Apostolic Vicar Msgr Hinder will ordain Fr Dickson Eugene, who grew up in Oman, for the Salesian province of Bangalore . Two confirmations in two different parishes in the capital and a meeting of all the priests of the sultanate are also planned for the weekend. The nation has a very large Muslim majority, but there is freedom of worship. The role of Mascate in the liberation of Fr Tom.
Mascate (AsiaNews) - It is a day of celebration for the Catholics of the Sultanate of Oman, a community of about 60,000 faithful, equal to 2% of the total of a population with a large Muslim majority, part of the Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia. Today at 3pm (capital time) the vicar Msgr Paul Hinder will celebrate the first priestly ordination in the history of the local Church: Fr Dickson Eugene, who will receive the sacrament in the parish of Saints Peter and Paul during a service broadcast live on social networks (click here for the video) to allow the participation of the entire community.
Fr. Eugene belongs to the Salesian province of Bangalore, India, but grew up in Oman where he has spent most of his life.
The days of festivities, celebrations and meetings for the local Church will continue throughout the weekend. Tomorrow, the Apostolic Vicar will celebrate confirmations at two different times: in the morning in the church of Ruwi and in the afternoon in the parish of Ghala, both within the territory of the capital Mascate. Finally, on 27 March, Bishop Hinder will meet with all the priests working in Oman to take stock of the local Catholic situation and the future challenges of the mission in the country.
The Catholic Church in the Sultanate is largely made up of immigrant workers, especially from South and South-East Asia. It is part of the Southern Vicariate, which also includes Yemen and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), whose headquarters are in Abu Dhabi. At the moment, the territory is divided into five parishes: the Church of St Anthony of Padua in Sohar; the Church of the Most Holy Apostles Peter and Paul in Ruwi; the Church of the Holy Spirit in Ghala; the Church of St Francis Xavier in Salalah; and the Church of Mar Thoma.
Christians are a small minority in a strongly Islamic context, but the authorities tolerate freedom of worship and there is general respect for religious freedom. The faithful can gather for worship, run schools, events and celebrations. In the past, the Sultan has donated land and contributed to the building of churches and places of prayer, even giving an organ to the church in Mascate.
In the past, the contribution of the local leadership was fundamental in obtaining the release of Fr Tom Uzhunnalil, the Indian Salesian kidnapped in Yemen in March 2016 by a jihadist commando in Aden, who had also killed four nuns and 12 other people, including guests of the centre for the elderly. Oman played a decisive role in his release and in the days following his release, the Holy See applauded and thanked him.