Parishes of the Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia
St. Anthony's Catholic Church, Sohar
The St. Anthony's Catholic Church, located in Sohar, about 230 kms north of Muscat, was formerly inaugurated on 4 February 1994, by Archbishop Pablo Puente, Apostolic Nuncio in Lebanon and Apostolic Delegate to the Gulf. The first Mass, however, was celebrated on 15 August 1993 by Fr. Edward Saracini, who had been appointed as the first Parish Priest of the new parish.
Sohar (صحار) the most developed city in the Sultanate of Oman, outside the capital Muscat, was an ancient capital of Oman. Having a rich sailing tradition, Sohar was historically a fishing town up until recent times; today, it has transformed into a prominent industrial hub.
In the year 1989, during the pastoral visit of Bishop Giovanni Bernardo Gremoli, the catholics residing in Sohar expressed their desire to have a place of worship. Convinced of their necessity he presented a petition to the ruler, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said (قابوس بن سعيد آل سعيد). In an audience on 27 April 1991, His Majesty benevolently approved the petition and generously donated the land for building the Church.
This Church is a witness to the faith and dedication of expatriate workers who flocked to this country since the early 1900s. Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Ruwi was consecrated on 4th November 1977. Although it was not the first church in Oman, its development was an important milestone. We are all indebted to His Majesty the Sultan for the generous gift of a plot of land upon which this splendid edifice has been built.
Fr. Bartholomew Kestell OFM Cap. first resident priest in Oman, begin construction of the first Church, which as later completed by Fr. Barnabas Maddii OFM Cap.
This Church as consecrated by His Eminence Simon Cardinal Lourduswamy on 4th November 1977.
A rapid increase in the expatriates made it necessary for bigger Church to be constructed some years later with the generous help of the faithful.
This present Church of S.S.Peter & Paul was solemnly blessed by His Eminence Cardinal Jean Louis Tauran on 10th March 1995.
Holy Spirit Church, Ghala, Muscat
A decade after the blessing of Saints Peter and Paul Church, Ruwi, the need for another place of worship was felt, as the Christian community grew in number. With the expansion of the capital city, a large number of Catholics began residing away from the commercial area. They were deprived of spiritual nourishment, due to the distance to Ruwi and the lack of regular transport. Therefore, in 1986, the Late Rev. Fr Barnabas Maddii, briefed His Lordship Bishop Bernard G. Gremoli, who in turn approached His Majesty, Sultan Qaboos Bin Said, who once again, in his benevolence, donated a plot of land in the serene surroundings of Ghala, thus paving the way for the consecration of our beloved Parish, ‘The Church of the Holy Spirit’,
His Lordship Bishop Bernard G. Gremoli laid the foundation stone on March 22, 1987 and in November 27, 1987, the Church dedicated to ‘The Holy Spirit’ was inaugurated and blessed by His Excellency Luiz Roblez Diaz, Apostolic Delegate from Khartoum. In April 1988, Fr Barnabas was transferred to Ghala as its first Parish Priest. Two years later, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said generously gifted a beautiful pipe organ to our church, the only one in the Vicariate of Arabia. In the following years ‘The Holy Family Recreational Centre’ comprising of a hall, classrooms and basketball court was built along with the Grotto of our Lady of Lourdes. The first Parish Council was formulated and the inaugural meeting took place in September 1990.
St. Francis Xavier Church, Salalah
In the late 1970s Fr. Antonino Fortuna of Ruwi-Muscat went to Salalah once a month. Fr. Augustine Antao SJ, the first parish priest, built St. Francis Xavier Church which was blessed on 1 May 1984 and three years later the parish hall. With the increase of the faithful the parish hall was refurbished and became the main church. The Catechism Centre, in 1998 built with one storey, had a second storey added in 2012. Fr. Ashok Gonsalves is the Parish Priest since February 2012, succeeding Fr. Raphy Vallachirakaran, Fr. Kuriakose, Fr. Savarimuthu, Fr. A. Antao, Fr. G. Rayen.
St. Joseph's Catholic Church, Abu Dhabi
It is located near the intersection of Airport Road (Street 2) and Seventeenth Street. The parish has over 100,000 expatriate Catholics from all over the world. With the growing economy within the region, the Church has also witnessed a steady increase in the number of faithful. Masses are celebrated in a number of different languages and the Church is generally seen packed to full capacity at most services.
The foundation for the first Church in Abu Dhabi was laid in 1962, on a plot of land along the present Corniche, donated by H.H. Sheikh Shakbut, the ruler of Abu Dhabi at that time. Fr. Barnabas Madii undertook the task of constructing the Church and a residence for the priests and on February 19, 1965 the first Church was inaugurated.
On 19 March 1981, the foundation for the present Church was laid, following the Ruler’s decision that the Church and its associated schools be moved to a different location. The inauguration of the new complex took place on 25 February 1983, in the presence of Sheikh Shakbut.
The parish today has over 100,000 expatriate Catholics from all over the world. With the growing economy within the region, the Church has also witnessed a steady increase in the number of faithful. Masses are celebrated in several different languages and the Church is generally seen packed to full capacity at most services.
St. Mary's Catholic Church, Al Ain
On the boundary between Abu Dhabi and Oman, the desert presents a beautiful oasis - Al Ain. It is a spring that refreshes men and camels. The area is divided into two sections and has two names. The part that belongs to Oman is called Buraimi, and the part that belongs to Abu Dhabi is called Al Ain.
The city is one big garden with long avenues bordered by palms as far as the eye can see. A very beautiful motor-way (180km) with special palm trees that withstands the climate, joins it to Abu Dhabi.
The first church was built in Al Ain in 1969 by Fr. Barnabas, and dedicated to Our Lady. The constant increase in the number of faithful, obliged to the Bishop in 1981, to enlarge the church, and to build a more spacious residence for the priest and a good parish hall. On the day of the Immaculate Conception of the same year everything was ready and a resident ant Parish Priest was installed in the person of Fr. Attilio Franceschetti. Up to this time, Al Ain was served by a priest from Abu Dhabi, who visited the place once a week. When Fr. Attilio retired in 1983, he was succeeded by Fr. Daniele Cerofolini. He in turn was succeeded by Fr. Antonino Fortuna, then by Fr. Francis Jamieson and Fr. Mathew. Fr. Antony is the current parish priest from 2007 onwards.
St. Mary's Church
His Highness the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the U.A.E donated land in 1966 to build a Church. Rev. Fr. Eusebius Daveri and his team pioneered this project. His Highness the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum inaugurated St. Mary's Catholic Church on 7th April 1967.
Today in this very place stands a magnificent new church that has been designed to accommodate more than 1700 worshipers at each service. Under the guidance of His Excellency Most. Rev. Bishop Bernard Gremoli, Rev. Fr. Daniel Cerofolini OFM. Cap, Fr. Michael Cardoz and their team pioneered this project. This church was inaugurated on 3rd November 1989.
St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, Jebel Ali
The Church of St. Francis of Assisi was in the territory of St. Mary’s Church, Dubai where Rev. Fr. Daniel Cerofolini OFM Cap was the Parish Priest. He blessed and laid the foundation stone on 4th October 2000. The construction of the entire Church building was done within an admirable period of one year.
The Church of St. Francis of Assisi, Jebel Ali, Dubai, UAE was consecrated on 15th of November 2001. Jebel Ali is situated on a small mountain desert. The name Jebel Ali itself means ‘Small Mountain’.
The parish land area is 50,000 ft2. It comprises of a single building of three parts. The church is adjoined by the Assisi Parish Hall, which can be opened if number of faithful increases for the church services. There is also a systematically constructed Padua Centre with fifteen halls, which can be used for Catechesis and Prayer meetings. The residential area and the office are another part of the construction. The plan and the architecture provide also a basement-parking space for 70 cars.
Indeed, this reveals a work of masterpiece by Bishop Bernard Gremoli. Everyone who visits the church has a wonder of being in a ‘House of Prayer’. The mosaic picture of Jesus embracing St. Francis from the Cross centers the sanctuary of the Church. It gives an extraordinary divine attraction for the Faithful.
This is the second Church within the Emirate of Dubai which began to serve the spiritual needs of faithful working/living in Jebel Ali Free Zone, Al Quoz Industrial Area, Jebel Ali Industrial Area, Jebel Ali Village, Jebel Ali Gardens and Jumeirah.
We had the opportunity of having Archbishop Giuseppe de Andrea, the Apostolic Delegate of Arabian Peninsula for the consecration of the Church. Bishop Bernard Gremoli, the Vicar Apostolic of Arabia, Most Rev. Br. John Corriveau, the Minister General of Capuchin Franciscan Order and Very Rev. Fr. Eugene Mattioli, the Superior Regular of the Arabian Capuchin Custody concelebrated the ceremony together with twenty priests from different parishes of Apostolic Vicariate; sisters from the Vicariate also participated. The colourful ceremony was magnified by almost three thousand Lay Faithful from various parishes of the Vicariate.
Mother of Perpetual Help Church, Fujairah
From 1978, Fr. Attilio Franceschetti, Parish Priest of St. Michael's Church, Sharjah, began to look after Khorfakkan with religious services in private houses for the people of the area, comprising also Fujairah (الفجيرة) and Dibba.
When Fujairah became more important, with seaport, airport, free zone and other facilities, the catholics were in need of a church. In February 1992, Bishop Bernard Gremoli appointed Fr. Michael Cardoz, an incardinated priest, as Fujairah's first resident parish priest covering whole East Coast area. He stayed in a rented villa and masses were celebrated in the same villa.
Bishop Gremoli met several times the Ruler of Fujairah to get a plot of land for this. In 2002, when the land was given St. Mary’s Catholic High School and Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church were built. Comboni Sisters took care of the School. The church was consecrated on 25th October 2002 by Archbishop Guiseppe De Andrea, Apostolic Nuncio to Kuwait, Yemen, Bahrain,and Apostolic Delegate for the Arabian Peninsula.
Today the parish of Fujairah consists of Fujairah, Kalba, Khorfakkan and Dibba. Dibba has a small worship centre in a rented villa.
In the year 2008, Bishop Paul Hinder appointed Salesian Don Bosco Priests from Chennai province, India to take care of the school and the parish. Present Parish priest Fr. Patrick Joji sdb with the help of other priests takes care of the pastoral needs of the faithful.
St. Michael's Church, Sharjah
The first St. Michael’s Church was founded in 1971 by Fr. Barnabas as a little chapel close to the British Air force base. In 1973 Fr. Barnabas shifted it into the then British officers’ mess. The kitchen area was converted into the Parish house.
Father Barnabas was succeeded by Fathers Attilio, Edmund, Antonino, Felicio, Godwin and Angelo. These Priests worked with dedication and zeal. As a result the flock continued to grow rapidly. In spite of the fact, that each of these priests expanded and embellished the converted church, there was still a lack of space to accommodate the parishioners in that small premise.
Under the guidance and support of Bishop Bernard Gremoli the new Church was built by Fr. Angelo Fiumicelli and his dedicated team. The new St. Michael’s Church was consecrated on 2nd October 1997 by Cardinal Artinze from the Vatican with Fr. Angelo as the First Parish Priest.
When Fr. Angelo returned to Italy after serving the parish of St. Michael’s Church for 18 years and on the whole 54 years in the Vicariate of Arabia, His Excellency Bishop Paul Hinder O.F.M. Cap appointed me as Parish Priest on 6th July 2007. Co-pastors Fr. Michael Paroosseril, Fr. Dinesh Mendosa and Fr. Sergio P. Arenga worked with me. Now along with Fr. Rodson Goes, Fr. Bijo Kudilil and Fr. Antonio Yapchiongco and other non-residential Priests, we continue to serve the multinational community. We have 35 prayer groups gathering every week for prayer meetings and Holy Masses in 8 different languages are conducted. The whole parish community prays as one family in Spirit and Faith. We have a number of spiritual activities too every month.
I am thankful to Bishop Paul for his constant support and guidance and also to all my parishioners for their good will gestures and generosity.
St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Ras Al Khaimah
The Foundation Stone of the St.Anthony of Padua Catholic Church at Ras Al Khaimah, was laid by Bishop Paul Hinder on 2 February, 2009. The new church was inaugurated on 17 December 2005.