Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

A parish name spurs sibling rivalry

Published July 9, 2015

My family during our years in Abu Dhabi. I’m in the red shirt, leaning against my father. My older brother, Joe, is all legs to the right.

I traveled down memory lane the other day editing a Catholic News Service news briefs with a dateline Abu Dhabi. It seems a new Catholic church there was being dedicated.

The capital of the United Arab Emirates isn’t a center of Catholicism by most measures. But it turns out the church in this Arab country has a faith community of a million believers, largely migrant workers from Southeast Asia.

Why my interest? For two years in the late 1970s, my family lived there as my father served with the US State Department. We faithfully attended St. Joseph Church, which it now seems is a cathedral for the See of the Apostolic Vicar of Arabia. These photos from its website show what the building looked liked during my time.

St. Joseph Church in Abu Dhabi

St. Joseph Church in Abu Dhabi

Interior of St. Joseph Church in Abu Dhabi

Interior of St. Joseph Church in Abu Dhabi








A few memories are burned in my memory about St. Joseph:

  • I was annoyed we always went there. My older brother is named Joe and it seemed obviously unfair we attended his namesake parish. We never went to the perfectly good St. Andrew Church, my namesake. In truth, mine was Protestant but that’s a small point when you’re in first grade. (I don’t know if my brother or parents remember this the same way.)
  • It was at St. Joseph Church, taught by Indian nuns, I learned how to make the sign of the cross. Thanks sisters!
  • There were a times I hid from my parents and played with friends to skip Mass. Those infraction were handled with firm parental guidance.

The new church is named after St Paul. I approve. I’ve no problems with the saint because I don’t have a brother named Paul.





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