Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Jul 29, 2013 / 12:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Catholics in the town of Mussafah in the United Arab Emirates have begun construction on a new church dedicated to St. Paul.
Bishop Paul Hinder, O.F.M., the Apostolic Vicar of Southern Arabia, blessed the church’s foundation stone on June 29 in the presence of the local Catholic community, including priests and religious missionaries .
“God dwells in each person … and with faith and love (is) gathering us together in this new church,” Bishop Hinder said.
He said he hoped the love of Jesus Christ and Holy Spirit will enable the “speedy” completion of the church, expected to be finished in two years.
Mussafah is an industrial town southwest of the capital city Abu Dhabi.
There are about 3,500 Catholic families and about 15,000 Catholic laborers around Abu Dhabi. Many are guest workers from Africa, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and the Philippines, but some are local Arabs, George Puthussery, press officer for the Abu Dhabi-based Vicariate of Southern Arabia, told CNA.
In 2011, the local government of Abu Dhabi granted a land area of 1.1 acres for the construction of the parish church.
St. Paul’s Church would be the second parish of the Abu Dhabi area. For almost fifty years, St. Joseph’s Cathedral has been the only church for Catholics near Abu Dhabi.
People travel 23 miles from Mussafah to attend to religious services at
St Joseph’s Cathedral.
Puthussery said the new church will make it “easy” for working residents of the area to attend church.
The Vicariate of Southern Arabia covers the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Yemen, where the population s primarily Muslim. Eighteen Masses are celebrated in the vicariate each Sunday in various languages. There are 46 priests serving about seven million Catholics in the vicariate.
A new church recently opened in the United Arab Emirates.
In June, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, consecrated St. Anthony of Padua Church in the northeastern town of Jazirat Al Hamra on the Persian Gulf.
The Holy See and the United Arab Emirates established full diplomatic relations in 2007.