Abu Dhabi – 19
March 2015: The entire Catholic Community of Abu Dhabi came alive on the Golden Jubilee of the St. Joseph’s Church in the capital city of the United Arab Emirates. The event was held on the Feast of Saint Joseph at 7 pm in the evening.
The celebration began with a solemn Thanksgiving Mass held outdoors at the altar stunningly decorated with the backdrop of the Cathedral. H.E. Bishop Paul Hinder, Vicar Apostolic of the Vicariate of Southern Arabia was the main celebrant. The celebrant arrived in procession from the Bishop’s House along with the priests of Bishop’s office, the priests belonging to Abu Dhabi parish and the priests from other parishes of the Vicariate.
Rev. Fr. Savarimuthu, OFM (Cap), the present Parish Priest of Abu Dhabi welcomed the congregation to the celebration. He said: “The word ‘Community’ is the key word of today’s celebration, because real sense of community was built on this day fifty years ago. The community spirit which is alive and vibrant is the cause for celebration more than the historic milestone. ” He invited all the faithful to join in the solemn thanksgiving Eucharistic celebration to thank God Almighty for the graces received throughout these 50 years. He invited the parishioners to specially remember all the Bishops, priests, Religious sisters and laypersons, who are present and away, for their immense contribution and sacrifice in turning this dream into reality.
Addressing the faithful, Bishop Paul Hinder explained how St. Joseph protected the Son of God and the Blessed Virgin Mary with his humble and just nature. He said: “St. Joseph, the patron of the Church has protected this community here in Abu Dhabi during the last fifty years. In Joseph we find the companion when we have to address the challenges of faith. Today we give thanks to the Lord for all the graces he has given us during the last fifty years.” He remembered the Rulers, the late Sheikh Shakbut bin Sultan who granted the land for the Corniche Church, the late Sheikh Zayed who donated the plot in Al Mushrif, the President H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed and H.H. Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, the UAE Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, for the . cooperation extended to the Catholic Church. He also recalled all the priests, religious sisters and lay people who worked hard for the community.
The Mass was followed by a cultural programme by the parishioners to express their joy on this historic event. Perviz De Souza, the anchor, welcomed the dignitaries, clergy and the representatives of other churches in Abu Dhabi. The Parish Priest, Fr. Muthu, said: “We are going to have a cultural ceremony which will help us to cherish the past and see where we were 50 years ago and where we are today. I invite all of you for this ceremony”.
Bishop Paul Hinder, Fr. Paul Koenig, Custos of the Capuchin Order in Arabia and Fr. Eugene Mattioli, were presented with the flowers by Fr. Muthu. Fr. Eugene, who was present at the time of the great event fifty years ago, who also served as the Parish Priest for 17 years, reminisced his nostalgic memories of the historic event.
A Souvenir to mark the event was released by Bishop Paul Hinder, consisting of the history, columns by the clergy and testimonials of the parishioners. The Papal Blessing received on the occasion from Pope Francis was read out by Bishop Paul and presented to Parish Priest, Fr. Savarimuthu. Bishop Paul also expressed his thanks to the clergy and parishioners for their immense contribution for the growth of Christian faith in Arabia. A documentary film on the history of the Church, brilliantly compiled in a nutshell was presented to the people present amid thunderous applause.
Parishioners then enacted the event with construction of a Cross made of flags of different nations. A song by the Korean Community, dance performances by African, Arabic, Latino, Indian and Filipino communities added cheer and colour to the evening.
It was a great occasion celebrated in a simple way in the footsteps of the patron and protector of this Church, St. Joseph. It was a great sight to see the parishioners seeking blessings from the past and present church leaders and exchanging greetings with one another.
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