The Catholic Church in Qatar celebrated a solemn Mass intended as a symbol of hope and unity for its diverse Catholic community, which is made up of individuals from various ethnicities, nationalities, languages, and Catholic rites.
Bishop Aldo Berardi, O.SS.T., Apostolic Vicar of Northern Arabia, presided over the celebration at Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Doha.
Speaking to the Vatican’s Fides news agency, Bishop Berardi said around 30,000 people attended Mass on New Year’s Day.
Thriving Church in Qatar
Our Lady of the Rosary, the first Catholic church authorized in Qatar, was established in 2006 and became the first Christian place of worship in the country since the 7th century.
Several ambassadors to Qatar, particularly from France, requested that the government authorize its establishment.
The then-Emir of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, donated the land for it. Cardinal Ivan Dias, then Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, consecrated it on 15 March 2008.
Bishop Berardi described the church as immense and situated near the new airport, within a “Religious Complex” that includes Protestant, Indian, Coptic, and Orthodox churches.
He mentioned the Catholic Church as the largest in this complex and expressed a desire to build another church in a different area of the country.
“On Fridays, it’s astonishing,” he said. “Many Catholics come for Mass, as do Orthodox, Copts, Protestants, and faithful of the Indian churches. The area has developed all around. Indian and Filipino schools have been built.”
Bishop Berardi highlighted the varying situations across the Vicariate of Northern Arabia, which includes Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia, each differing in laws, cultures, tribal influences, and Muslim tendencies.
Gratitude to Qatari authorities
During the solemn Mass, Father Xavier D’Souza, parish priest of Our Lady of the Rosary, expressed gratitude to Bishop Berardi for celebrating the Eucharist, marking the beginning of 2024.
He acknowledged Bishop Berardi’s tireless leadership of the community.
Father D’Souza also thanked Qatar’s Emir, Prime Minister, royal family, and people for their benevolence in providing necessary facilities and approvals for their services, as well as the Governmental and Security Police Authorities.
He gave special thanks to Mariam Nasser Al Hail, Deputy Director of the Office of the Secretary-General for Service Affairs, for her crucial role in securing special approvals and support for their services.