October 10, 2014 (Abu Dhabi). The newly reconstructed St. Joseph?s Parish Centre was blessed during an awe-inspiring ceremony held today. The Solemn Mass of Blessing was celebrated by the Apostolic Vicar of Southern Arabia, H.E. Bishop Paul Hinder, together with the Apostolic Nuncio to the Arabian Peninsula, H.E. Archbishop Petar Rajic and the Apostolic Vicar of the Vicariate of Northern Arabia, H.E. Bishop Camillo Ballin and twenty-three other priests from various parishes of the Vicariate of Southern Arabia. Fr. Reinhold Sahner was the Master of Ceremonies for the liturgy.
?Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music. For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods?
was the message inscribed on the outdoor stage quoting Psalm 95:2-3. The faithful started arriving at the venue as early as 4 pm for the ceremony which was scheduled to begin at 6 pm. The mood was upbeat as the festive music and dancing began by 5 pm. The compere, Roydon D?mello welcomed the congregation as Johnnie Thomas (Coordinator of the Lectors? Ministry) explained the evening?s proceedings. The procession to the new St. Therese Chapel began at 6 pm with the Bishops, Priests, Altar Servers and Communion Ministers entering the Chapel as the ?God?s Flock Choir? lead by Jun and Feli sang the hymn, ?This is the day that the Lord has made.?
Bishop Paul Hinder began the celebration with the opening prayer and blessing of the water that was used to bless the Church prior to the first Eucharistic Celebration. The rite of the sprinkling of holy water followed, with the Church, the prayer hall and the exterior sprinkled by the Bishops, the Parish Priest Rev. Fr. Savarimuthu and the other priests who were present. Bishop Paul Hinder then intoned the Gloria and was joined by the Choir and the congregation. The Scripture readings were followed by the homily of the Archbishop H.E. Petar Rajic, who beautifully explained the meaning and tradition of blessing the altar that is to be used for the Eucharistic celebration. He also explained how for some eastern rites, the altar signifies the tomb of Christ where he died and rose again. After reciting the Creed, the Litany of the Saints was sung by the Choir imploring the presence and prayers of the angels and the saints.
The unique part of the consecration of the altar was performed by Bishop Paul Hinder. The Bishop poured the Holy Oil of Chrism on the surface of the altar and anointed it. The priests of the Bishops House and the Parish then removed the excess oil from the surface of the altar. The Bishop completed the consecration by placing holy incense on the surface of the altar. The altar then was covered with the special altar cloth and the Sisters of the St. Joseph?s Convent decorated the base of the altar with flowers. A candle was lit by the bishop and given to the Parish Priest, Fr. Savarimuthu who lit the candles on the altar proclaiming
?Receive the Light of Christ?
amid thunderous applause by the congregation within the new church and by those who were outside, who closely followed the proceedings on the screens. The Missal was then placed on the newly consecrated altar.
For the Offertory, parishioners of St. Joseph?s Church from several nationalities brought candles and the Holy Bible in their native languages as a mark of the diversity and universality of the parish. The Bread and Wine for the offertory was then brought in by the African community with music and dance.
After Communion, Bishop Paul Hinder announced that the new chapel would be named after St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower. He expressed his hope that just as the mission of St. Therese was to be ?love? in the heart of the Church, the parish of Abu Dhabi would silently, yet powerfully radiate the love of Christ to the nation and culture in which it is present.
The Eucharistic celebration was followed by a short cultural programme where the parishioners performed a few dances to the music, proclaiming the goodness of God. A video presentation on how the new construction progressed and reached its completion was also presented to the thousands of people gathered at the church compound.
This historic event was witnessed by nearly ten thousand faithful who were from St. Joseph?s Parish and other parishes of the Vicariate of Southern Arabia. It is noteworthy that the blessing of the new church coincides with the fifty-year jubilee of foundation of the first Catholic Church in Abu Dhabi on Corniche Road. The parish community will celebrate the Golden Jubilee of this historic event in February 2015.
BLESSING OF THE NEW ST. JOSEPH'S PARISH CENTRE, ABU DHABI". Retrieved from http://www.stjosephsabudhabi.org/news/blessing-of-the-new-st-joseph-s-parish-centre-abu-dhabi/
The photo album of the event is available at