Vicariate of Arabia inaugurates the first church in al-Dhafra region
A new opportunity for Gulf Catholics to celebrate after the cathedral in Bahrain. The parish of St. John the Baptist in Ruwais has a capacity for 800 and upstairs a multipurpose center with a capacity for one thousand. Mass will be celebrated every night of the week, three on Fridays. A point of reference for the region's 2,500 faithful, most of whom are migrants.
Abu Dhabi (AsiaNews) - Having recently archived the celebrations for the inauguration - in the presence of the Prefect of Propaganda Fide Card. Luis Antonio Tagle - of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Arabia in Bahrain, the Catholics of the southern vicariate are preparing to consecrate another place of worship: the Church of St John the Baptist in Ruwais, about 240 km west of Abu Dhabi.
The civil ceremony is scheduled for tomorrow in the presence of secular and religious, Muslim and Christian authorities, while the first mass will be held on December 17. The solemn Eucharistic service will be presided over by Msgr. Paul Hinder, vicar apostolic of southern Arabia (United Arab Emirates, Oman and Yemen) and apostolic administrator sede vacante of northern Arabia (Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain).
According to vicariate sources contacted by AsiaNews, the inauguration is scheduled for tomorrow at 6 am in the presence of Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, representing the emirate of Abu Dhabi. The church stands on a plot of land donated by Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and the monarch's representative in the al-Dhafra region, in the a-Ruwais residential complex.
The parish priest is Capuchin Fr. Thomas Ampattukuzhy, who has overseen the project and construction work in recent years since the laying of the foundation stone blessed by Msgr. Hinder on Dec. 30, 2018. In addition to a daily mass that will be celebrated every night of the week, to encourage worker participation, the new church will also have two additional celebrations on Fridays, a feast day in Muslim-majority Gulf countries.
The church has a total capacity of about 800, while a multi-purpose conference room for nearly 1,000 people has been set up on the second floor. Next to the structure are an office and a residential complex. A statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary and a crucifix made for the mass celebrated by Pope Francis in Abu Dhabi on February 5, 2019, during his historic apostolic trip to the Gulf, have been placed inside the place of worship.
It is the first Catholic church in the al-Dhafra region, which borders Qatar, and will welcome the approximately 2,500 faithful, the vast majority of whom are immigrants from other Asian nations, who live and work in Ruwais, totaling about 600 families. On the eve of the inauguration, the ecclesiastical leaders of the region wished to express their gratitude and thanks to the royal family, emphasizing the spirit of "tolerance, fraternity and solidarity" which have long been the guidelines of the policy of the Emirates.