UAE: New St Antony's Church at Ras al Khaimah consecrated
Ras Al Khaimah, Jun 15: The much awaited inauguration ceremony of the new church dedicated to St Antony of Padua in Al Jazira, al Hamra district in Ras al Khaimah was held on Thursday June 13.
The 5000-square metre spacious state-of-the-art church, with simple architecture was inaugurated by Sheikh Saud Bin Kayed Al Qasimi, former under secretary, Ministry of Health.
Fr Thomas Ampattukuzhi parish priest of St. Antony’s Church welcomed the dignitaries and thanked all those who made this dream of a church possible in the Arabian desert.
Speaking on the occasion, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the congregation for the Evangelization of peoples congratulated the people and thanked the ruler for giving this facility to the faithful of Ras Al Khaimah. He said “a dream is realized. I bring to you the love of the Holy Father”.
Archbishop Petar Rajic, Apostolic Nuncio to the Arabian Peninsula congratulated the people of RAK for fulfilling a dream nothing short of a miracle in the desert and appreciated the ruler for his generosity. He called on the gathering to pray with the Muslim brethren aloud chanting “humdulihhah” (thanks be to god).
Bishop Paul Hinder, Vicar Apostolic of Southern Arabia said “I thank the ruler of Ras al Khaimah for his generosity of acknowledging the spiritual needs of the faithful of RAK and said “May the church be a symbol of peace among all religions”
Archbishop Giuseppe De Andrea, First Apostolic Nuncio to the Arabian Peninsula was present on the occasion. Engineer Abdullah Al Muhairy from Federal Water and Electricity Department were the other dignitaries present. Engineers and architects were honored at the occasion.
The consecration on June 14
Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the congregation for the Evangelization of peoples—Vatican was the main celebrant as the representative of the Pope solemnized the consecration of St Antony of Padua church.
The rites and rituals of consecration from the blessing of the water to the anointment of the Altar till blessings were received and witnessed by more than 11,000 people who were seated, and standing on every available space in and out of the church. masses were held in a small church
With the blessing of the holy water, the vicinity of the church, and the stations of the cross were blessed. The wide expanse of the main alter is flanked with two panels of St Antony and mother Mary on in mosaic chips
The plain slab of marble, was transformed into a glittering Altar and with the adornment of the main celebrant and the lighting of the candles, the all pervasive scent of the incense, the flood of with reflecting lights of the chrystal chandeliers on the walls and the voices of the choir raised in music “Light and christ come into this world”.
Archbishop Petar Rajic, Apostolic Nuncio to the Arabian Peninsula, Bishop Paul Hinder, Vicar Apostolic of Southern Arabia, Dr Eusophia the retired Nuncio, Fr Vargese the vicar provincial, Fr Praveen Kumar prominent in India and 23 priests from all over the world concelebrated the first mass in the newly built church.
During the sermon Cardinal Fernando Filoni , prefect of the congregation for the Evangelization of peoples said “ I have come specially for the consecration, a wonderful day, historical day. Thank you my god! I want to extend the wishes of Pope Francis to all of you.” Giving the analogy of Zechaes nurturing the sacramental body of the lord he exhorted the faithful to make efforts to be the living witnesses to Christ’s love. As the parting message “I will tell the holy father of what I have witnessed here, we love you”.
Fr Thomas Ampattukuzhi parish priest of St Antony’s Church thanked the papal representatives and thanked the multitudes that gathered and said “this is nothing short of a miracle”. The church being dedicated to St Antony, it is deemed to become a pilgrimage in future.
The choir was excellently led and conducted by the young Errol Lobo choir.
People from all over the UAE and Oman came to witness this miracle in the desert braving the on setting summer heat. The first mass was followed by lunch and refreshments.