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Snapshot From the Global Church: Sharjah PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Wednesday, 05 December 2007 07:38
Occasionally, I come across interesting pieces that give a glimpse of what it means to be Catholic in a very different part of the world. I'm calling this irregular feature "Snapshot from the global church" and I'd like to begin with the story of St. Michael's parish ( from

Imagine a parish of 65,000 made up of 20 nationalities. Where "the day of obligation" runs Friday through Sunday - with 17 Masses in three rites, including Syro-Malabar and Malankara. Where 3,000 children attend catechism class in English in the morning and 1,500 in Arabic in the afternoon. Where the CCD classrooms are jammed with 100 children practically sitting on top of each other.

Welcome to St. Michael's parish in Sharjah, in the Vicariate of Arabia

"When I arrived here the first time, I was literally shocked to see the tremendous faith of the expatriate community. To a certain extent, it energizes one's own belief," recalls Father Kuruvilla who reached the United Arab Emirates some 15 years ago. "Many a time I have wondered what exactly is the reason for this external manifestation of deep hunger and thirst for anything spiritual." asks 50-year-old Kuruvilla who considers it a privilege to be part of a vibrant faith-filled community.

As I know from friends who have lived there, life can be very hard for Christian foreign guest workers, in parts of the Persian Gulf.

"We do take a lot of trouble to come to the church every week daring all types of obstacles. The traffic situation too is chaotic," says a parishioner, Lydiya Pinto.

"Lack of parking anywhere near the church adds to our misery. The over-crowded church atmosphere makes things even more difficult. With this, if we have to just rush in and out of the church every time we come for the service -- when we are seeking solace and relief for our overburdened hearts -- I just don't see the point of taking all this trouble. It is high time that we thought of dividing the crowd."

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