ASIA / ARAB EMIRATES – A new Catholic church in Ruwais


ASIA / ARAB EMIRATES – A new Catholic church in Ruwais

Ruwais (Agenzia Fides) – Important days are beginning for the Catholic community in the United Arab Emirates. Today, December 16 at 6:00 p.m., the Catholic Church of Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Ruwais will be inaugurated, 250 kilometers from Abu Dhabi, in the west of the country. Several Sheikhs representing the national authorities will participate in the “civil” inauguration ceremony.
The blessing ceremony for the new church will take place on Friday, December 17, 2021 and will be officiated by Bishop Paul Hinder, head of the Apostolic Vicariate of South Arabia (which includes the territories of the Emirates, Kuwait, Oman and Yemen).
The parish priest is the Capuchin Fr. Thomas Ampattukuzhy, who has supervised the project and the construction works in recent years since the laying of the first stone blessed by Mgr. Hinder on December 30, 2018. Until now, liturgies were celebrated in temporary structures. “The construction of the new church – adds Bishop Hinder -” took longer than expected, due to Covid-19 “. With the construction of the new church – reports the apostolic vicar – there are 9 “Catholic parishes with their own places of worship” in the Emirates. To these will soon be added the church under construction in the port city of Jebel Ali, intended mainly for Arabic-speaking Catholics, mainly Maronites “.
The Catholic community in the Roweis region – adds Bishop Hinder – comprises around 2,500 people, “mainly Filipinos and Indians, the latter mainly from Kerala, but there are also Koreans and others from different countries”. The industrial and residential complex of Ruwais represents an emblematic example of the birth of urban centers in the Emirates, but also in other countries of the Arabian Peninsula.
What was once a small promontory inhabited by a handful of fishermen has transformed in recent decades into one of the most advanced industrial areas in the Middle East, thanks to multi-million dollar investments driven by the development of the oil and gas industry in the emirate of Abu Dhabi. The Ruwais housing complex has grown 10 kilometers from industrial facilities, with a service network that includes shops, schools, banks, mosques, clinics and hospitals and a wide range of sports and recreational facilities. .
After the inauguration of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Arabia, consecrated on Friday December 10 in Bahrain by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle (see Fides, December 10 and 11, 2021), the consecration of the new church in Ruweis is also a joyful and a relevant moment in the experience of a multilingual and multicolored Christianity, cultivated in a free way, far from “organized” evangelistic programs.
A Catholic community that emerged as a result of the vital and concrete interests that pushed and pushed millions of people to leave their homeland to seek better wages in the oil wells, in the construction sites, in the homes of the local rich. The effect – unexpected and unintended – is that there have never been so many Christians in the Arabian Peninsula (after the centuries of inaction which followed the first and exciting missionary progression, led by the ancient Church of ‘East, of Nestorian descent). (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 12/16/2021)

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