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New 1,500-seat Catholic church to open in UAE on Friday

June 14, 2013 5:20pm
Filipino Catholics in the United Arab Emirates stand to benefit from a new 1,500-seat Catholic church that will open at the Ras Al Khaimah area on Friday.

Vatican representative Cardinal Fernando Filoni will consecrate the 5,000-square meter, Dh18.5-million St. Anthony of Padua Church in the Al Jazira Al Hamra district, Gulf News reported.

There are an estimated 700,000 Catholics who go to 10 churches and served by about 40 priests speaking a dozen languages in the UAE, the report said.

In Ras Al Khaimah alone, there are about 6,000 Catholics, the report noted.

“The church is very much alive here, in Africa and certainly in Asia. All of the members are migrant workers. Besides Filipinos, Indians and Christian Arabs, we have a growing number of Korean Catholics too. Services in rather small churches here are packed, while in Europe, big and beautiful cathedrals are almost empty,” Fr. Galdolf Josef, 73, secretary Abu Dhabi-based Bishop Paul Hinder, told Gulf News.

Josef added that Ras Al Khaimah is "developing quite a bit, especially its industries and tourism, and so is the number of migrant workers."

The consecration ceremony falls close to the feast of St Anthony of Padua, patron of lost items and people, on June 13.

The officials expected to attend the opening include Archbishop Petar Rajic, Apostolic Nuncio to the Arabian Peninsula and Bishop Paul Hinder, Vicar Apostolic of Southern Arabia.

Gulf News noted that the 1,200-seat church can accommodate up to 1,500 worshippers. Two major roads link the new church to Umm Al Qwain, Ajman and Sharjah.

The new church also has a basement hall while two buildings have offices, meeting and catechism rooms and the priests’ accommodation.

Meanwhile, a new church is also under construction in Abu Dhabi’s Mussafah industrial district. The structure is on a 5,000 square-meter land granted by the government. - VVP, GMA News
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