Archbishop Francisco Montecillo Padilla – the Vatican’s Apostolic Nuncio (diplomat) to Yemen, Kuwait, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates and Qatar (strangely he doesn’t look after Oman) – and Dr. Ahmed Khamis Masood Al Bahri, director in Oman’s Ministry of Religious Endowments and Religious Affairs of Oman inaugurated St. Francis Xavier Church in Salalah, Oman.
The event was celebrated on the 8th September with a Eucharistic given by Bishop Paul Hinder who administers the Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia (Oman, Yemen & UAE).
Unfortunately this was a normal day of work in Oman, so expect the major celebrations to follow.
St Francis Xavier (1506-1552) was a Spanish Jesuit missionary who worked in southern India & Japan. Indians were, however, first contacted by St Thomas around AD52 and this resulted in what are known as Mar Thoma Nazranis (St Thomas Christians).
The land in Salalah was first donated by Sultan Qaboos in 1979 and various other buildings were initially built. The new church replaces a previous St Francis Xavier Church. Sharing the plot is Mar Thoma Church (St Thomas Church), St Pauls Church, St Stephen’s Church amongst others). There are five Catholic parishes in Oman, two in Muscat, two in Salalah and one in Sohar.
The new church has a seating capacity of about 600 people along with a multi-purpose hall. The Catholic Church claims some 50,000 members in Oman (see link).