Dubai: Christian expatriates in Dubai celebrated Easter Sunday — the day of the resurrection of Jesus Christ — with prayers and thanksgiving, attending mass and spending time together as a family.
Christians believe that Jesus Christ, who was crucified and who died on the cross 2,000 years ago, was resurrected on the third day, a Sunday, which is now commemorated on Easter or Resurrection Sunday.
St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Dubai teemed with churchgoers by the thousands yesterday. The 12 masses spread throughout the day were held to accommodate around 75,000 churchgoers, Fr Tomasito Veneracion, parish priest of St Mary’s Church, told Gulf News.
He said that around 90,000 pieces of communion bread were distributed to churchgoers from Thursday evening to Friday, from 70,000 distributed the year before.
The message of Easter, Fr Veneracion said, is to remember and honour Jesus Christ every day.
“When we’re going through hardships, it’s easy to look up to the crucified Christ and surrender our cares to him. These small frustrations, these sufferings, the small crosses that we bear are only temporary. After a while they will be solved. But once we get past them, once life becomes good, it’s easy for us to forget Christ,” Fr Veneracion told Gulf News.
“The message is to not stop looking at Jesus even in good and happy times,” he added.
During the celebration, Fr Veneracion acknowledged and thanked the authorities for giving them religious freedom.
“We prayed specially for [His Highness] Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum [UAE Vice-President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai], his family, and all the people of Dubai. We appreciate the country’s openness and leniency to other religions, and for allowing us to practise our faith here in Dubai,” Fr Veneracion said.
The same prayer was included in Marie Paz Gutierrez’s list on s Easter Sunday. “I am very grateful that even though we are in a Muslim country, we have the freedom to practise our faith here,” Gutierrez, a devout Catholic, told Gulf News.
“Easter Sunday for me is a time to commemorate what Jesus did on the cross to give us a chance to live again,” she added.
Elsewhere in Dubai, Christian families dined together and went to the beach to celebrate.
Indian expatriate Caroline Jacob spent the day with her family as part of their family tradition.
“More than anything else, Easter is the time when we renew our faith in Jesus and remember what he did for us on the cross. At the same time, it’s a family fun day. We make it a point to mark the end of Lent through a family get-together for lunch,” Jacob, a credit controller, told Gulf News.