(Left to Right: H.E. Ali Al Hashimi, the Religious Counsellor to the Ministry of Presidential Affairs, H.H. Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak al Nahyan, the UAE Minister for Youth, Culture and Community Development, H.E. Bishop Camillo Ballin, Apostolic Vicar of Northern Arabia, H.E. Bishop Paul Hinder, Apostolic Vicar of Southern Arabia and H.E. Archbbishop Petar Rajic, Papal Nuncio to the Arabian Peninsula)
H. H. Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak al Nahyan inaugurates the newly built St. Joseph's Parish Centre
Abu Dhabi, October 9th, 2014. H. H. Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak al Nahyan, the UAE Minister for Youth, Culture and Community Development, inaugurated the newly built St. Joseph’s Parish Centre in Abu Dhabi on Thursday evening at 7.30 pm. Also present on the occasion was H. E. Ali Al Hashimi, the Religious Counsellor to the Ministry of Presidential Affairs, Mr Shihab Ahmed Mohammed Al Faheem, the Assistant Undersecretary for Protocol Affairs, H.E. Dr. Mohammed Bin Said Al Kindi and several other dignitaries.
The multi-storey parish centre, which houses a chapel, parish offices and meeting rooms is built within the premises of the St. Joseph’s Cathedral, the seat of the head of the Catholic Faithful in the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Yemen, Swiss-born Bishop Paul Hinder. Bishop Paul belongs to the Capuchin Franciscan Order, which has been serving the Catholic Faithful in the Arabian Peninsula for more than a hundred years. Throughout its more than fifty year history in the United Arab Emirates, the Catholic Church has enjoyed great freedom, respect and excellent relationships with the rulers of the United Arab Emirates who have graciously allowed permissions to build Churches whenever there has been a greater need for the members of the Catholic Community to worship together and celebrate their life of faith.
Speaking on the occasion, Bishop Paul noted that it was exactly fifty years ago that the first St. Joseph's Church in Corniche was under construction, built on land granted by the then ruler, His Highness Sheikh Shakbout Bin Sultan Al Nahyan to the still small Catholic community of Abu Dhabi. Bishop Paul then gratefully remembered Sheikh Zayed, the father of the nation, who graciously donated the land for the present cathedral in Abu Dhabi. He then thanked the President of the United Arab Emirates, H. H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan for his generosity towards the Catholic Church in allowing the construction of the Parish Centre and also the new Church in Mussafah, which will cater to a large number of Catholic faithful who reside in the industrial areas. The construction of the Parish Centre is a great relief for the crowds of faithful who throng the weekend services at the present Cathedral, which is now too small to accommodate the worshippers. Bishop Paul assured Sheikh Nahyan and the other dignitaries who were present on the occasion of the commitment of the Catholic faithful to the growth and prosperity of the nation.
Sheikh Nahyan expressed his happiness that the Holy See had chosen the city of Abu Dhabi for the see of the Bishop of Southern Arabia. He praised the Catholic faithful for their hard work and perseverance in building the new centre. He said that the construction of the centre is also a sign of the good will and tolerance of the United Arab Emirates, a nation which is committed to the well being of all its residents without prejudices. Speaking with emotion, Sheikh Nahyan expressed his heartfelt desire that this centre would be a means for the Catholics to realize their full potential and growth to the full measure of their humanity and that this centre would be a place where a true song of joy may always rise from the heart and lips of those present.
Fr. Savarimuthu, the Parish Priest of St. Joseph’s Cathedral, thanked the President H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, H.H. Sheikh Nahyan, H.E. Ali Al Hashimi and all the dignitaries for their gracious presence at the inauguration. He also thanked in a very special way Fr. Eugene Mattioli, the former Parish Priest of Abu Dhabi, who is also the longest serving missionary of the Vicariate.