St. Anthony's Catholic Church, Sohar, Oman — Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia
The St. Anthony's Catholic Church, located in Sohar, about 230 kms north of Muscat, was formerly inaugurated on 4 February 1994, by Archbishop Pablo Puente, Apostolic Nuncio in Lebanon and Apostolic Delegate to the Gulf. The first Mass, however, was celebrated on 15 August 1993 by Fr. Edward Saracini, who had been appointed as the first Parish Priest of the new parish.
Sohar (صحار) the most developed city in the Sultanate of Oman, outside the capital Muscat, was an ancient capital of Oman. Having a rich sailing tradition, Sohar was historically a fishing town up until recent times; today, it has transformed into a prominent industrial hub.
In the year 1989, during the pastoral visit of Bishop Giovanni Bernardo Gremoli, the catholics residing in Sohar expressed their desire to have a place of worship. Convinced of their necessity he presented a petition to the ruler, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said (قابوس بن سعيد آل سعيد). In an audience on 27 April 1991, His Majesty benevolently approved the petition and generously donated the land for building the Church.
Bishop Paul Hinder, Vicar Apostolic of Southern Arabia was born in Lanterswil-Stehrenberg, Switzerland, on April 22, 1942. He professed as Franciscan Capuchin on Sept 18, 1966 and was ordained priest on July 4, 1967.
On Dec 20, 2003, he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Arabia and was ordained Bishop on Jan 30, 2004. He was later appointed Vicar Apostolic of Arabia on March 21, 2005. It is in this capacity that he now shepherds the Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia.
Fr. Augustine Fernandes was born on 7th March 1975 in a beautiful village named Jagra, in the district of Chikmagalur; Mallandur parish, in the diocese of Chikmagalur, Karnataka State India. He had his schooling at Uppinangadi, Mangalore, and continued his education at Bankal. He completed his university studies and obtained his degree from the Mysore University.
He was aware of his inner call to religious life and wanted to follow St. Francis of Assisi. He joined the Capuchins. On the 15th of May 1998, Br. Augustine made his first Commitment to the Lord to serve his brothers and sisters. Living as a Capuchin Friar minor he equipped himself with his philosophical studies at Bangalore and his Theological studies at Mysore. Br. Augustine made his solemn commitment as a member of the Capuchin Order in St. Fidelis Province Uttar Pradesh: India, on the 15th May 2004. He was ordained Priest on 3rd May 2006 at Mangalore, India.
After his Ordination Fr. Augustine was appointed at Ranchi India, and was assistant Parish Priest for 3 years. Later he was given appointment at St. Mary's Catholic Church Al Ain, United Arab Emirates; and successfully accomplished his mission as associate Pastor. On the 12th of April he assumed his service at St. Anthony's Catholic Church Sohar, Sultanate of Oman as Associate Pastor. He was installed as the Parish Priest on 23 August 2015.
PASTORS — past
Bishop Giovanni Bernardo Gremoli was born on 30 June, 1926 in Poppi, Italy. He was ordained priest on 17 February, 1951 and served the faithful of this region as Vicar Apostolic of Arabia from 2 October, 1975 until his retirement on 21 March, 2005.
Fr. Johnson K. Joseph was born on 27 January, 1963 in Thudanganad, Kerala, India. He joined the Capuchins and made final his commitment on 15 May, 1983; and was ordained on 4 January, 1990.
Fr. Edoardo Saracini was born on 12 January, 1927 in Bucine, Arezzo, Italy. He joined the Capuchin Minor Seminary at Lucignano then Poppi in 1938. On the 1st of August 1943 he entered the Novitiate at Cortona and made his simple profession on the 15th of August 1944. In the year 1948, on February 2nd, he made his final commitment. After his Theological studies in Florence, he was ordained Priest on 8th March 1952.
He equipped himself with a course on missiology in Rome, and on the 1st of October 1953, he left by ship for India as Missionary, he reached Bombay on 13th of the same month. In North of India he served in various places: such as Agra, Mussoorie, Barlowganj, Clement-Town, Saharanpur, Rataul and Lalyana. In May 1968 he went to Tanzania where he served for 19 years.
At the beginning of 1987 he came to the Vicariate of Arabia. For two years he served as Parish Priest at the Ss. Peter and Paul Church in Ruwi, Oman, then in 1989 he moved to Salalah. In 1991 he went to Abu Dhabi and worked in Bishop’s office. In the month of July 1993, he took charge of St. Anthony's Church, in Sohar as its first Parish Priest, continued till the beginning of 2009. He is proficient in Hindi, Swahili, English and other European languages. He continued his services as Associate Pastor at St. Anthony’s Sohar till 24 August 2012, when he left the Vicariate of Arabia to return to his own Capuchin Province in Florence, Italy.
Fr. George Vadukkut, served as Parish Priest from 18 January, 2009 to 30 June, 2011.
He was born on the 18 November, 1972 at Parappur in Trichur District. After his high school studies he joined the Capuchin Minor Seminary at Bharananganam. His Novitiate was at Muvattupuzha; he made his first profession on the 15 May, 1993 and his final commitment on the 16 May, 1999. He had his Major Seminary Studies at Calvary Ashram Trichur and Capuchin Vidya Bhavan Thellakom where he finished his philosophical and Theological studies. He was ordained on the 18 November, 2000. He was appointed as the Secretary to the Provincial.
He has served in the parishes of Ruwi and later as Parish Priest at Sohar, in the Sultanate of Oman. Presently he is the Parish Priest and Guardian at Elinjipra,Thrichur.
Fr. Baby Mathew (Babyachan), served as asst. parish priest from 21 June 2008 to 3 January 2009.
He was born at Chenmmannar, Nedumkandam on 18 November 1979 and did his schooling at St. Xavier’s HS Chemmannar and St. Augustine’s HS Peringulam.
During his school days he realized his vocation to the Capuchin order, and upon completion of his schooling he joined the Capuchin Minor seminary at Battherry. After one year of primary formation he went to Bharananganam to continue his further studies. He had his initiation course at Kattappana and entered the novitiate at Muvattupuza where he had the happy experience of Capuchin religious life. After having completed his novitiate he was sent to Calvary Ashram Trichur, and to St. Francis College Eluru, Andhra Pradesh for his philosophical studies during which he also obtained his degree in Philosophy from the Calicut University, Kerala. He did his final commitment in the year 2004 and entered the Capuchin Vidyabhavan for Theological studies. He was ordained on 18 November 2006.
Fr. Kuriakose, served as asst. parish priest from 2007 to 2008.
He was born on the 12 March, 1949. He made his first commitment to the Capuchin Order on the 22 May, 1974. He got ordained on 27 May, 1977. As a young and energetic friar he was appointed as the Vocation promoter for the Province. Till 1987, he continued as the defenitor in charge of Vocation promotion, preaching ministry and Secular Franciscan Order.
From 1982 to 1987 he was Director of mission preaching. After ten years of dedicated service in the province, he was sent for higher studies to Belgium, to the Catholic University of Leuven. In 1989 he completed his studies with licentiate.
From 2003 to 2008 he was serving various parishes in UK., Qatar, Abu Dhabi (UAE), Salalah and Sohar in the Sultanate of Oman. He served many fraternities in his home province: St. Joseph Province Kerala, in various capacities at Assisi Ashram Bharananganam, Gethsemane Ashram Changanacherry, Padua Ashram Perambra, Amalagiri Ashram Payyanur, St. Alphonsa Ashram Edat. At present he is the guardian of St. Thomas Ashram Kavalam Alapuzha.
Fr. Felix Augustine Ferrão, served as asst. parish priest from (tenure). He was born on 10 July, 1948 at Guirim. He studied at St. Anthony's, Monte de Guirim and joined the Order in 1968. He made his first profession on 31 May, 1974. He was ordained on 29 May, 1977. He passed away on 28 July, 2009.