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1,500-seat church opens in Ras Al Khaimah

Vatican Cardinal to open Dh18.5 million St Anthony of Padua Church on Friday

  • By Jay B. Hilotin, Chief Reporter
  • Published: 21:18 June 12, 2013
  • XPRESS

  • Image Credit: ATIQ-UR-REHMAN/XPRESS
  • SERVING RAK: The Dh18.5m church can accomodate 1,500 people xpress/ ATIQ-UR-REHMAN
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ABU DHABI/RAS AL KHAIMAH Vatican representative Cardinal Fernando Filoni will open the new Catholic church in Ras Al Khaimah on Friday.

Cardinal Filoni, the Vatican’s Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, will consecrate the 5,000 square metre St Anthony of Padua Church in the Al Jazira Al Hamra district, about 25 km from the city.

Other officials who will attend the event include Archbishop Petar Rajic, Apostolic Nuncio to the Arabian Peninsula and Bishop Paul Hinder, Vicar Apostolic of Southern Arabia.

“This is a great achievement,” said Fr Galdolf Josef, 73-year-old secretary of Abu Dhabi-based Bishop Paul Hinder, of the Dh18.5-million church. “Ras Al Khaimah is developing quite a bit, especially its industries and tourism, and so is the number of migrant workers. We’re thankful to the Ruler [of Ras Al Khaimah] for giving us the land.”

There are about 6,000 Catholics in Ras Al Khaimah, said the Swiss prelate.

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

“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 said.

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 existing chapel in RAK’s Al Nakheel district, meant for 500 parishioners, sometimes caters to more than 10 times its capacity.

Though the plot was given 2007, it took about five years to raise the money to build the new house of worship.

Filipina hotel executive Janytte Siega, events manager at the upmarket Banyan Tree resort in RAK, said: “I’m happy we have a much bigger place of worship. It testifies to the religious tolerance here. May God continue to bless and bring abundance to the UAE, protect its leaders and people,” he said.

Cleo, a media officer of RAK Free Trade Zone, said: “I’m excited about this bigger church. Last Ash Wednesday, I had to go home, because the existing church was rather cramped - you can’t even get close to the gate to listen to the priest.”

The new structure has a basement hall while two buildings have offices, meeting and catechism rooms and the priests’ accommodation. The church’s consecration ceremony falls close to the feast of St Anthony of Padua (June 13), patron of lost items and people.

A new church is also under construction in Abu Dhabi’s Mussafah industrial district on a 5,000 square metre land granted by the government.

“The UAE,” said Gandolf, “is probably the most open country to Christians in the region.”

Comments (15)

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  1. Added 12:31 June 13, 2013

    This shows that we Muslims are not bad and i am proud to day i am a UAE national but if you see other countries we are not given this much love that we give here in UAE to non muslims.

    Nada bint Yousef AlMansoori, RAK, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 12:00 June 13, 2013

    Love UAE for its free spirited attitude towards its people. Never seen such a liberal Country any where. Encourages peaceful coexistence among the community !

    Maria, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 11:28 June 13, 2013

    Congratulations to RAK people, am planning to visit the New Roman Catholic Church this Friday.

    Jos Cardozo, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  4. Added 10:05 June 13, 2013

    Lets pray for peace on Earth , Long Live UAE and its Leaders for their religious tolerance and may God bless all.

    Denzil A Daniel, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

  5. Added 09:39 June 13, 2013

    Amazing leaders, wonderful country!

    Jimbo, Dubai, Philippines

  6. Added 09:34 June 13, 2013

    God bless the Ruler of Ras Al Khaimat for his great generosity giving this land so Worshipers can Worship freely in UAE. A very long life to all the Rulers in UAE for their love and continuous support commitments to other Nations. Blessed be the land of UAE. Amal Tuffin

    Amal Tuffin, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  7. Added 09:07 June 13, 2013

    What an achievement...!!!We must thank our beloved priests for making this possible. It certainly wouldnt have been easy for them 1) to interact with government authorities to complete their formalities 2) to raise funds for such a huge project. Rulers of RAK & AUH have been very generous and their interest in building a nation with such high religious tolerance is very much visible. May Almighty Lord shower abundant blessings upon them and the nation for their goodwill. We pray that the project in AUH-Musaffah goes well and similar large scale projects get get go-ahead in other parts of the region.

    Martin, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  8. Added 09:06 June 13, 2013

    God Bless UAE, and it Rulers more Wisdom

    Isaac, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  9. Added 09:02 June 13, 2013

    THE SAME WAY MUSLIM SHOULD ALSO BE TREATED IN EUROPE AND IN ASIA.

    SYED, DUBAI, United Arab Emirates

  10. Added 08:32 June 13, 2013

    Amen to that!

    NancyEVT, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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