AL AIN a beautiful province of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, has many natural and artificial points of interest both for religious and otherwise oriented persons. Al Ain “the spring” is truly worth its name because it is said that “it is a “spring” that refreshes men and camels” alike.
The Catholic community started worshiping in a church for the first time in 1969. It was around the year 2000 that we were able to feel the immediate presence, direct personal experience, and true taste of the Malankara catholic togetherness. Ever since the time of Reverend Father Chacko Mannissery OFM Cap., the community has been growing slowly but steadily. Reverend Fathers Jerome Peedikapparampil, O.I.C. and Mathai Iranathara, O.I.C. accelerated the work already begun.
It was the common bond of togetherness that this community has become viable and convincingly devotional. This coming together is one of our “little flock” communities of the UAE Malankara communion. The interest, earnest participation, and sincere involvement this community puts forward are greatly laudable. The Christian spirit of sacrifice and dedication is very well visible in their involvement in liturgical celebration and other community activities. They maintain a friendly and shared leadership in the upbringing of the community.
Al Ain Malankara Catholic Community
DUBAI “Famous in the past as a market-place exporting gold and for printing stamps, Dubai owes its present prosperity to its oil resources which have made it the commercial centre of the Emirates…The Catholic community was at first served from Bahrain, but with the passage of time there was a need for a priest permanently residing there. Fr. Barnabas therefore turned to the wise and benevolent Sheikh Rashid and requested an area for a house of worship. This was immediately granted, but it was not used as it was too far…In 1965 Fr. Eusebio Daveri arrived in Dubai. He obtained an area that was more convenient and, …In the beginning of 1966 a parish hall was ready. The foundation stone for the church was laid by Sheikh Rashid himself on 25 May 1966, and on 7 April 1967 it was solemnly blessed by Msgr. Magliacani and dedicated to Mary Assumed into Heaven… Besides the church, Fr. Eusebio built a beautiful school”. This school is eligible to issue Advanced Level Certificates because it is affiliated to the University of London. St. Francis Jebel Ali began in 2004 as an extension of St. Mary’s; today it is a parish with its own trade license.
Excavation of oil in the Middle East and consequent development of industry and trade have been reasons of attraction for Malankarites like many others from around the world. Isolated and individual presence of persons from the Malankara Catholic Church in Dubai during the 1960s may still be investigated by interested persons. However Mr. Mathews Varghese Puthenveettil, came to Dubai on 23- 3- 1968 to work for the Costain Company. He used to involve himself with St. Mary’s Church Dubai ehre he remembers Father Eusebio Daveri, the parish priest very well. He is retired as an administrative officer for the ruler’s office in Khorfokan and lives now with his family at Ernakulam. Mr. Mathews relates about the visit of Bishop, Zacharias Mar Athanasios of Thiruvalla to Dubai around 1973. The bishop stayed in Hotel Calton where Mr. MVP proudly speaks of receiving a blessing and offering a kaimuth. Eventually many others came during the late seventies and thereafter as individuals and families; thus today we are in many hundreds in Dubai and Jebel Ali alone.
Reverend Father Thomas Padinjarekoot, may his soul rest in peace, celebrated Malankara Holy Mass for the first time in Dubai and Abu Dhabi on his way back home from Germany in 1983. Later Reverend Father Thomas Thomas Kottarathil also celebrated Holy Mass while visiting Dubai as principal of Mar Ivanios college. May his soul rest in peace; he died in an accident in 1987. Very Reverend Father Abraham Kackanatt (now Bishop Abraham Mar Julios) encouraged the formation of Malankara communities in DXB, AUH, and SHJ. Almost after ten years Very Reverend Father Gheevarghese Mannikkarot (now Cor Episcopo) visited communities and imparted further enlightenment and it has been a second step to progress. Moreover the interest and efficiency our brothers and sisters express do require greater appreciation for what we are proud of today as “our Church”. It is our desire to follow what have been taught by our Fathers of the Church and our Family Fathers. Our desire to maintain our Malankara identity in itself is a gift of God and so we are determined to keep it as the apple of our eyes. We would proudly make use of this time to thank the St.Mary’s parish for its valuable support the for Malankara community.
Dubai Malankara Catholic Community
FUJAIRAH Catholic faithful have been looked after by Fr. Attilio Francescherri, from Sharjah. In 1992 Fujairah had its own parish priest in the person of Reverend Father Michael Cardos, having the care of Khorfakkan and Dibba. The seaport, airport, and various commercial activities grew in their operation and so the number of Catholic population swore up and hence naturally Malankaraites too. Probably from the beginning of the new church in 2002 Malankara Catholic Community also started to have bimonthly Mass until Reverend Father Jojji Patrick, SDB became the parish priest, wherefrom the community have Malankara Mass every Month. St. Mary’s residential High School is a big blessing for children and relief for parents in the Fujairah area because Catholic education is well appreciated by all sectors of the society.
Malankara community is very fervent and active in Fujairah, though it is a small community compared to our bigger communities. All activities are well taken care of by the members together with the efficient leadership of James and the enthusiastic team with him. The prayerful atmosphere and the enjoyable togetherness this community enjoys are very evident when they gather together. The Christian aspects of caring and sharing are enjoyably visible and they consciously are careful to keep it up.
Fujairah Malankara Catholic Community
RAS AL KHAIMAH Catholic Community is the youngest of the communions in the United Arab Emirates. This community, though small in size, maintains its own fervor and piety especially because of the past they have encountered and overcome. Their devotion practically advanced in and through their restricted family togetherness. The present church building was inaugurated on December 17, 2005. Reverend fathers from Sharjah took care of this community until March, 2006, when Reverend father John Vandreleen was appointed parish priest. Reverend father Mathew Fernandez took charge after few months and served almost for two years. The fruits of the hard work of all the previous fathers were handed over to Reverend Father Thomas Ampattukuzhy OFM since 2008, and he is now full time occupied with his mission both at RAK and Umm Al Quwain.
The Malankara Catholic Community began to have liturgical celebration every month since 2006. It is one of the “little flock” communities, but very fervent and dedicated. The beauty of its size and the openness of its spiritual simplicity are very evident in all aspects of spiritual and otherwise. Thazhayil C. Thomas arrived in RAK in 1977 and eventually got involved with the church matters along with his wife Rita Teacher. Thomas John who arrived in subsequent years dedicated himself as the main help to the parish priest .He is retired and lives with his family in Kerala. The Malankara community will always remember his dedication and love for the church. It has been the enthusiasm of these forerunners as well as some of the late arrivals that we are able to hold Malankara service at RAK. The support and encouragement of the parish priest and members of this parish do help us to go ahead to help one another to Grow as Church. Our special thanks and gratitude to Father Thomas are acknowledged herewith.
Ras Al Khaimah Malankara Catholic Community
SHARJAH which signifies “East”, lies to the east of Dubai. Incidentally, oriental Christians, Hindus, and few other religions do give great significance to the direction of ‘east’ due to the implications they attribute to this direction. It is believed, though unscientific, that light originates in the east. Christ is the light of the world and He invites us to turn towards Him.
In 1974 the Catholic community in Sharjah started as church in “a chapel already prepared by British soldiers”. “On 26 June 1995 H.H. Sheikh Sultan gave a plot for the new church”. Most of the Malankara faithful made sure to attend weekend Holy Masses and other devotional exercises as they were possible within their time frame of work and rest. However they never forgot to recite their daily prayers as has been prescribed by Malankara catholic discipline, though a few found it convenient to attend other oriental Masses. The necessity of a Malankara togetherness was felt by a number of devout malankarites and they started to come together according to their own convenience, for which at times they had to take upon themselves lot of strain and great sacrifices. The intention here is to mention that it had been always the earnest desire and dedication of the lay faithful that helped to the taking shape of a church community. Their continuous prayer to God and repeated requests to church authorities finally began to find some answer coming on their way. Very Reverend Father Abraham Kacknatt( Bishop Abraham Mar Julios) visited Sharjah in 1988 and gave a starting momentum to some consolidated activities which eventually led to the formation of a prayer group. Later Very Reverend Father Gheevarghese Mannikkarott (now Cor Episcopo) had been very instrumental, during his visit to the Malankarites towards the close of the 20th century, in giving a further acceleration to the already existing structure and organization. As a consequence of all these the Arabian Vicariate entrusted Reverend Father Chacko Mannisserry, OFM Cap. the care of the Malankara Catholic communities in the Arabian Gulf. It has been a strenuous effort from the part of Fr. Chacko M. he deserves gratitude from the Malankara Catholic communities for his successful attempt.
The arrival of Reverend Father Jerome Peedikapparmpil, OIC added further momentum to what had already been initiated. Fr. Jerome and later Reverend Father Mathai Iranathara resided in Doha, Qatar and visited UAE on a regular basis. Both the reverend fathers succeeded in adding colour, flavor, energy, and purposeful learning to the Malankara vitality of the communities. Fr. Peter Kadamankod, OIC reached in 2005 December as the first resident chaplain with residence at St. Francis Jebel Ali. It is the enthusiasm of the community that keeps it going. We get good encouragement and support from St. Michael Parish for which our sincere gratitude is acknowledged herewith to the parish Priest, assistant parish priests, Parishners, and staff. We are able to organize three Holy Masses and a prayer session every month besides the weekly catechetical session.
Sharjah Malankara Catholic Community
ABU DHABI “A Start was made in Abu Dhabi, where in 1962, H.H. Sheikh Shakbut donated a plot of land along the coast for the construction of a church and a residence for priests, built by Fr. Barnabas Madii. These were solemnly inaugurated on 19 February 1965.At the inauguration ceremony, H.H. the Sheik opened the main door of the church with a golden key, and entrusted the same to Mgr. Maglilacani. It was a symbolic gesture signifying that the Bishop of the Catholic Church was welcome in his Kingdom, and that he was under the Ruler’s protection. (Extracts from a private circulation Vicariate of Arabia. P. 66).
Explicit Malankara presence during these years is a matter yet to be investigated. It has been detectable, for sure, by late seventies. Sporadic and unidentified presence of a few persons of the Malankara Catholic way or tradition eventually grew into some kind of an occasional formation of simple but enthusiastic coming together. Explicit Malankara presence during these years is a matter yet to be investigated. It has been detectable, for sure, by late seventies. Sporadic and unidentified presence of a few persons of the Malankara Catholic way or tradition eventually grew into some kind of an occasional formation of simple but enthusiastic coming together.
Reverend Father Gheevarghese Mannikarott (now Corepiscopo) deserves the credit for his encouragement for the venture the Malankara Catholics have put forward in Abu Dhabi as well as in Dubai and Sharjah towards the close of the 20th century. It is important to mention that the visit of Dr. Fr. Abraham Kackanattu (now Bishop Abraham Mar Julios) in 1988 has imparted some initial momentum already to the little flocks in all the three above mentioned places. Abu Dhabi is no more in the group of little flocks. It has grown to be the third large Malankara community in the U.A.E.