St. George Orthodox Cathedral Abu Dhabi

Our Parish


In mid 60’s the boom attracted many foreigners, including Malayalee Christians, to Abu Dhabi. Rev. Fr. K.K. Punnoose. M.A., B. D., S.T.M., (L L H.G. Stephanos Mar Theodosios Metropolitan of Calcutta Diocese, India) Vicar, St. Mary’s Orthodox Church, Bahrain, used to visit this area at regular intervals to look after the spiritual needs of our people. He had managed to organize a prayer group of our own. A meeting of our members was held as per his request on 29th Nov ’68, and elected an Ad-Hoc committee and decided to have evening prayers on all Fridays. The evening prayers were continued without break until the arrival of Rev. Fr. T. A. Jacob as resident Vicar. The carol service (visiting the houses of all our members) started in Dec. ’68 is a milestone in the history of our parish. The Carol service was continued for some more years.

H.G. Thomas Mar Themothios Metropolitan of Malabar Diocese (LL HH Baselios Didymos I, the Malankara Metropolitan and Catholicose of the East) visited Abu Dhabi and other places in 1969 and celebrated Holy Qurbana and delivered sermons. This was the first visit by a Bishop of our Church to this area. H. G. Mathews Mar Coorilos (LL HH Baselios Marthoma Mathews II), Metropolitan of Kollam Diocese, visited Abu Dhabi and other emirates in Dec 1969. His Grace celebrated the Holy Qurbana and delivered sermons and met other spiritual needs of the members. His Grace submitted a request to H.H. the Ruler of Abu Dhabi for a plot of land for the construction of a Church of our own, through the intermediary of a prominent citizen. H.H. The Ruler graciously honoured the request and granted a plot of land in Khaldiya area. The first General Body meeting of the Prayer group was held on 14thMar ’69 after the Holy Qurbana under the presidentship of Rev. Fr. K.K. Punnoose (LL H.G. Stephanos Mar Theodosios). During the Passion Week of 1970, Rev. Fr. T.J. Joshua B.A., B.D., S.T.M., conducted the Holy services. This was the first occasion when the entire services of the Passion Week was observed in Abu Dhabi. The services and his exhortations had a tremendous impact on our members.

 

On 7th Aug ’70 the foundation stone of our first Church at Khaldiya was laid by H.H. Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Ruler of Abu Dhabi. The General Body meeting that held on 29th May ’70 unanimously decided to request the Diocesan Metropolitan to elevate the Prayer Group as a Parish and to appoint a resident Vicar. The request was approved by H.G. Dr. Mathews Mar Athanasios, our Diocesan Metropolitan vide “Kalpana” No. 350/70 dtd 14th Aug ’70 Rev. Fr. T.A. Jacob. M. A., arrived Abu Dhabi on 18th Aug ’70 and took charge as the Vicar of the Parish. The construction of the first Church was completed within one year and on 1st Dec ’71, the Church building was sanctified by H.G. Dr. Philipose Mar Theophilos Metropolitan, and His Grace celebrated the first Holy Qurbana in our own Church. As on 31st Dec ’70 we had a total strength of membership of 89 (counting family as one). It was our humble beginning.
Rev. Fr. C.K. Joseph (present V. Rev. Ramban) replaced Rev. T. A. Jacob, after the latter’s tenure as the Vicar. During the services of Rev. Fr. C.K. Joseph, we were able to construct a parsonage of our own in the Church premises. Until then, we were making use of a rented building, in Madianat Zayed, almost near to the present Najda Street.

When the parsonage was shifted from there to the new premises, in connection with the Church festival of 1973, a full size photograph of St. George, our patron saint was brought to Church as motorcade of a large number of vehicles of our members as well as well wishers. The motorcade was under the patronage of the traffic dept and hence it was not disturbed on the way. The Sunday School started in those days with one teacher and a few children has grown in number and strength, which has more than 20 teachers and 300 students at present.

When Rev. Fr. P.M. Kuriakose took charge instead of Rev. Fr. C. K. Joseph, he took initiative to extend the size of the Church and to plant trees, bushes and plants in the Church compound. The Church services were re-arranged in the proper order and uniformity and the same beautiful style of worship is still continued. Rev. Fr. K.T. Thomas (H. G. Thomas Mar Athanasius Metropolitan) took charge of the Parish from Rev. Fr. P. M. Kuriakose, and he started the intercession prayers of St. Gregorios in the systematic way on Wednesdays.

The Church building was shifted to the present premises, as per the instructions of the Government authorities, when Rev. Fr. V. K. Varghese was the Vicar. H. G. Mathews Mar Coorilos (H.H. Moran Mar Baselios Marthoma Mathews II, Catholicose) blessed and inaugurated the construction works n 24th Apr ’81 and H. G. Dr. (the late) Paulos Mar Gregorios, our previous Diocesan Metropolitan, laid the foundation stone of the new Church building on 5th Feb ’82. When the construction works were completed, the Church complex was sanctified and dedicated on 27th and 28th May ’83, by H.H. (the late) Moran Mar Baselios Marthoma I, the then Catholicose and our previous Diocesan Metropolitan, assisted by H.G. Mathews Mar Coorilose Metropolitan (the then Catholicose Designate) and H.G. Dr. (the late) Paulos Mar Gregorios Metropolitan (the then Diocesan Metropolitan) in the presence of a large number of priests and faithful. The Church complex comprises of the beautiful Church, parsonage, Sunday School hall, Committee room, Guest room etc. It is worthy to remember that the lion share of the construction expenses were met with the compensation granted by the kind and generous Ruler of Abu Dhabi, considering and counting the number of trees and plants in the previous premises.

 

This parish was originally in the Diocese of outside Kerala. When it was divided in 1975, this parish was under the Bombay Diocese and the able leadership of the then Diocesan Metropolitan H.G. Dr. Thomas Mar Makkarios has enabled our Parish to withstand many of the obstacles that came across it’s development. When again there was a division of the dioceses in 1979, our parish was attached to the Delhi Diocese. All these changes were implemented in accordance with the decisions of the Holy Episcopal Synod and as per the constitution of the H.Church. H.G. Dr. (the late) Paulos Mar Gregorios, the first Metropolitan of Delhi Diocese had a special care and concern towards this parish from the very beginning. In all major issues of development in this parish, he had taken the leadership and had acted wisely in the Grace of God Almighty. It is sure and certain that the ideas and directions of His Grace have contributed much for the real beauty and magnanimity of the designs, construction and the selection of the materials.

H. G. Job Mar Philoxenos, who took charge as the Diocesan Metropolitan after the demise of Mar Gregoriow Metropolitan, also spends a lot of time for the benefits of the parish. In spite of His Grace’s ill health, Mar Philoxenos travels all the way from Delhi to meet the needs of the parish, when there is a need. The parish is obliged to His Grace for the limit less love and care.

Rev. Fr. (the late) T. C. Mathai, Rev. Fr. A.M. Paulos, Rev. Fr. Zachariah Panackamattam served as the Vicar after the tenure of Rev. Fr. V. K. Varghese. When Rev. Fr. Zachriah was the Vicar, we were able to complete the construction of St.Thomas Hall. The silver Jubilee of the Parish was celebrated with a variety of attractive programmes from Nov.93 till April94, when Rev. Fr. Shaji Mathews was the Vicar. The motto of the Jubilee was “For the greater Glory of God Almighty and in gratitude to the benevolent Ruler of Abu Dhabi”. The balance amount of the Jubilee celebrations fund was donated for the construction of a Church at Karakkolli in Sultan Battery Diocese. A stage, which could be utilized for the public meetings and cultural programmes was constructed in the Church compound during the services of Rev. Fr. T. P. Kurian. The enthusiasm and the initiative taken for the systematic functioning of the spiritual activities as well as the daily routine of the parish, in the proper discipline and order, by the present Vicar, Rev. Fr. Sam. V. Gabriel, is really appreciable.

This parish is giving top priority from the very beginning for benevolent activities. The parish could donate substantially for the benevolent deeds so far from the funds collected through the Birthday and Wedding anniversary offerings. This parish has actively participated in many of the developmental programmes of the Holy Church with timely and worthy supports. We have taken special interest since long, in associating with the most deserving activities of the Mission Board of the Church. “Abu Dhabi St. George Orthodox Parish paddy field ” at Yacharam, which is utilized for the rice cultivation and sweet water supply needed for the Balabhavan (where children who are free from the leprosy of their parents are brought up) is just an example. It is worthy to remember our donations for the Theological Seminaries at Kottayam and Nagpur, in times of their different needs, as well as the donation for the Smruthi Mandiram at Kottayam Seminary compound. Our contribution for the priests welfare funds was also remarkable. This Church has secured the Shields and Mementos for the parish which collected the highest amount for the Catholicate day. Still we do der the leadership of the Church Fathers as well as the other projects with their permissions. In connection with the Silver Jubilee of the Parish, we have donated funds for the marriage of the poor ladies, and also for the construction of houses for the poor and needy, irrespective of caste and religion. When the parish celebrated its 30th anniversary, then also we have donated for the marriage assistance of 54 poor girls.

 

All the spiritual organizations of the Holy Church are very active in this parish too, formatting their activities strictly to the mottos of each organization. The activities of the Youth league, Marth Mariam Samajam, and the Sunday School are really exemplary, not only in their mottos but also in sharing the benevolent activities in the auspices of the parish. The parish is keen in observing the feasts of St. George, the patron saint, St. Mary, St.Gregorios and all the “Maranaya” feasts in the way it should be.

Moreover the feasts of all other Saints and Church Fathers are also observed in the proper time with the rituals and celebrations. Every year two conventions are conducted. There is a library rich with plenty of precious and famous books. The annual get-together is a meeting place of allthe parishioners and their friends and well wishers. These programmes encourages the growth of the parish and it’s benevolent activities.