Dubai, 05 July 2014.
The Apostolic Vicar of Southern Arabia, Bishop Paul Hinder, OFM Cap. has invitied the Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church, His Beatitude Cardinal George Alencherry, to visit the UAE & Oman. The dates of the Cardinal’s visit coincide with dates of the celebration of the Feast of the Apostle Thomas, who is believed to have sown the seed of the Christian faith on Indian soil.
The Catholic Church in Southern Arabia is multicultural and comprises of the Catholic Faithful from both the Latin and the Oriental rites, which include the Maronite, the Syro-Malankara and the Syro-Malabar faithful. The members of the Syro-Malabar faithful have their origin in the small South Indian state of Kerala and yet are widely diffused in different parts of the world. Providing sufficient pastoral care of the members of the Oriental Churches is a difficult task at the hands of the Vicars of Northern and Southern Arabia who struggle to overcome the many challenges that they encounter in the pastoral care of their flock, which come from over a hundred different nationalities.
On the first day of the visit, the Cardinal celebrated the Eucharist with the members of the Syro-Malabar faithful in St. Michael’s Sharjah, St. Francis of Assisi Jebel Ali and St. Anthony of Padua Ras Al Khaimah. Bishop Paul Hinder accompanied the Cardinal to all the parishes and concelebrated Mass in the Syro-Malabar rite. Speaking on the occasion and giving the Major Archbishop a warm welcome, Bishop Paul Hinder said that the visit gives the witness of the communion within the different rites of the Catholic Church. The numbers of the faithful of the Syro-Malabar rite in the United Arab Emirates alone are estimated to be above 100,000.
Speaking to the members of the Syro-Malabar faithful in the parishes of Sharjah, Jebel Ali and Ras Al Khaimah, Cardinal George Alencherry urged them to give witness to the Lord as did the Apostle Thomas, both by the Word and by the witness of their lives. He also urged them to keep to the rich heritage of the traditions that they had received from the Syro-Malabar Church such as family prayer, the celebration of the major feasts, involvement in parish councils and their yearly fasts. He asked them to pay special attention to nurture vocations, passing on the faith to the younger generation and to guard them from being secularized by the world. He asked them to work closely with their priests and Bishop Paul to give a united witness as a vibrant Church living the Gospel of Jesus Christ in this part of the world.
The day concluded on a light note after the celebration of the Mass at Ras Al Khaimah where the Cardinal greeted the Bishop on the occasion of the 47th anniversary of the Bishop’s priestly occasion.
Today in the evening, the Cardinal meets with the faithful of St. Mary's parish in Dubai, which is the largest Catholic parish in the world.