Our Lady of Arabia Parishioners are those who reside in the following areas:|
Wafra, Mina Abdullah, Fahaheel, Mangaf, Abu Halifa, Fintas, Adan, Sabahiya, Riqqa,
Magwa, Funaitees and Shuaiba.
... "Flower of Carmel, fruitful vine, Splendour of Heaven, Mother divine: None like to thee; Mother of meekness, spotless Virgin to the Carmelites a favour impart, 'Star of the Sea'." - Refrain by St. Simon Stock
The Church of Our Lady of Arabia is the "mother church" of our Vicariate. It is the first Catholic Church to be built on Kuwait soil. It is dedicated to the great Mother of God, Mary most Holy. The Church is also dedicated to St. Elias the Prophet and St. Thérèse of Lisieux. Since the very beginning, the Carmelite Church in Ahmadi has played a fundamental part in the life of the Catholics here and a very important role in the Church history of the State itself.
THE FIRST "CHAPEL" IN AHMADI
Ahmadi being the centre of oil production, scores of people, mainly migrant workers, began to settle here. The Catholics worshipped in a provisional Chapel from 1948 until 1955. This Chapel was previously a Nissen hut on the Ahmadi Ridge, which had housed a power station and was later abandoned. The Chapel was blessed on 8th December 1948. On that day, devotion to “Our Lady of Arabia” started.
THE PRESENT CHURCH
... It was the dream of Rev. Fr. Teofano Ubaldo Stella OCD, the first resident Catholic priest and later the first Bishop in Kuwait, to have a decent-sized Church for his Catholic faithful. Fr. Stella approached the Kuwait Oil Company management with his request regarding the building of a proper Church.
The KOC management supported the proposal and in due course permission was granted for a new Church to be built in central Ahmadi. In November 1950, preliminary sketches of the permanent Church were submitted to Fr. Stella for his consideration. On 8th September 1955, the cornerstone was laid for the Church of Our Lady of Arabia by Bishop Elect Monsignor Stella. There is an interesting story told about the cornerstone:
The construction of the church began on 12th December 1952 and was completed on 8th September 1955 and was blessed on 1st April 1956 by Rev. Fr. Teofano Ubaldo Stella.
The present-day church of Our Lady of Arabia
INTERIOR OF THE CHURCH
"On 20th November 1952, the chaplain, Fr. Stella and a few members of the Carmelite Mission in Kuwait went on a pilgrimage to Aylesford, Kent in South England to collect a cornerstone for the new Church. The stone was unearthed from the ruins of an old Dominican abbey there (the same in which the Carmelite Monks had taken refuge after their flight from Palestine during the Crusade). On the return trip to Kuwait, on 12th December, Fr. Stella and his group were given audience by H. H. Pope Pius XII. It was the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe and at the very moment the Pope blessed the stone, the bells of Saint Peter's basilica began ringing the Angelus, and His Holiness knelt down by the stone to recite the prayer with those in the room."
INSCRIPTION ON THE PARCHMENT LAID WITH THE CORNERSTONE
"To the Glory of Lord, this CornerStone, taken on November 20th, 1952 from the ruins of the Church of the Assumption, built by M. Simon Stock at Aylesford and blessed by His Holiness Pope Pius XII on December 12th 1952, was solemnly laid with proper ceremonies by the Right Rev. Msgr. T.U. Stella, OCD, Bishop Elect of Autaerpolis and Vicar Apostolic of Kuwait, for the Church - in honour of OUR LADY OF ARABIA, St. Elias the Prophet and St. Thérèse - which the Kuwait Oil Company is generously building, that its employees and workers might find in the house of God, peace, joy and contentment and might pray for the prosperity of His Highness Sir Abdulla Al Salim Al Sabah, Ruler of the country for anyone coming here from afar, and for the people of Kuwait."
On Easter Sunday, 1st April 1956, H.L. Bishop Stella blessed the new Church of Our Lady of Arabia in Ahmadi. It is noteworthy that His Eminence Alexender Cardinal Verde signed the document which grants to the Church of Our Lady of Arabia the same indulgences as for visiting the greatest Marian Shrine of the world, the papal basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome.
DESCRIPTION OF THE CHURCH
The present-day simple, yet, beautiful Church is a generous gift from the Kuwait Oil Company to the Catholic faithful. It is built of stone and has an attached bell-tower.
The Blessed Sacrament Chapel (inside the Church) houses the cornerstone.
The Church furnishings are simple. The sanctuary was re-designed to accommodate the statue of Our Lady of Arabia, which occupies a central position, high above the altar. The Statue of Our Lady of Arabia is a replica of the statue of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, venerated in her basilica on Mount Carmel. The Statue was formally enthroned on 6th January 1950, and thereafter crowned on 25th March 1960. The sanctuary is adorned on either side with artistic paintings. St. Joseph, the Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross and St. Maria Goretti, the second Patron of the 'Men's Sodality of Our Lady of Arabia' are represented on the Gospel side, while St. Elias the Prophet and St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the added Patrons of Ahmadi Church, together with St. Francis Xavier, Protector of the Missions and St. Pius X, the Patron of the "Ladies' Sodality of the Blessed Virgin, Mother of God" are painted on the side of the Epistle.
The Church in Ahmadi has come to mean many things to many people. The day-long Eucharistic Adoration in various languages on the First Friday of every month is well-attended by many Catholics in Kuwait. Equally important, the "little" Church in Ahmadi, will always be regarded as a centre of pilgrimage for all Marian devotees.
"LET US THANK GOD
FOR HIS INNUMERABLE GIFTS"
--- The Extension & Inauguration of the New Hall ---
It all began in November 1996, when the Vatican Foreign Minister, His Grace Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran laid the foundation stone for the new hall annexed to the Church of Our Lady of Arabia, Ahmadi. This was based on the then status and the speculation that the construction would begin in the near future.
However, elation turned to disappointment as the proposal was turned down and shelved. Not discouraged by this drawback, H.L. Bishop Francis Micallef, the clergy and the parishioners pursued the matter with perseverance, prayers and faith, and once again the proposal was revived, when in August 2000, the church was advised that the new hall had been sanctioned.
A dream comes true - The interior of the new hall
Excavation for the annexe started in October 2000 and slowly but surely the building and the surrounding landscape took shape. Though the completion date was scheduled for April 4, 2001, the building along with the landscaping was completed on March 29, 2001 and the handing over ceremony was held on April 1, 2001.
The inauguration and opening ceremony was held on April 17, 2001 and H.L. Bishop Francis Micallef, Msgr. Giuseppe De Andrea – Chargé D’Affaires of the Apostolic Nunciature in Kuwait and Fr. John Chrysostom performed the ribbon cutting ceremony.
A view of the new hall (annexe) from the outside.
The addition of the new hall to the existing Church is a gift from the Kuwait Government and the Kuwait Oil Company to all the faithful. We express our sincere thanks to them for giving the Catholic community the opportunity and place to practise their faith. We would also like to extend our thanks to the clergy, the parishioners and all who assisted and were instrumental in making this dream come true.
See Also: "A GIFT FROM KUWAIT OIL COMPANY (KOC)"