The Church of St. Francis of Assisi was in the territory of St. Mary’s Church, Dubai where Rev. Fr. Daniel Cerofolini OFM Cap was the Parish Priest. He blessed and laid the foundation stone on 4th October 2000. The construction of the entire Church building was done within an admirable period of one year.
The Church of St. Francis of Assisi, Jebel Ali, was consecrated on 15th of November 2001. Jebel Ali is situated on a small mountain desert. The name Jebel Ali (جبل علي) itself means ‘Low Mountain’.
The parish land area is 50,000 ft2. It comprises of a single building of three parts. The church is adjoined by the Assisi Parish Hall, which can be opened if number of faithful increases for the church services. There is also a systematically constructed Padua Centre with fifteen halls, which can be used for Catechesis and Prayer meetings. The residential area and the office are another part of the construction. The plan and the architecture provide also a basement-parking space for 70 cars.
Indeed, this reveals a work of masterpiece by Bishop Giovanni Bernardo Gremoli. Everyone who visits the church has a wonder of being in a ‘House of Prayer’. The mosaic picture of Jesus embracing St. Francis from the Cross centers the sanctuary of the Church. It gives an extraordinary divine attraction for the Faithful.
This is the second Church within the Emirate of Dubai دبيّ which began to serve the spiritual needs of faithful working/living in Jebel Ali Free Zone, Al Quoz Industrial Area, Jebel Ali Industrial Area, Jebel Ali Village, Jebel Ali Gardens and Jumeirah.
We had the opportunity of having Archbishop Giuseppe de Andrea, the Apostolic Delegate of Arabian Peninsula for the consecration of the Church. Bishop Bernard Gremoli, the Vicar Apostolic of Arabia, Most Rev. Br. John Corriveau, the Minister General of Capuchin Franciscan Order and Very Rev. Fr. Eugene Mattioli, the Superior Regular of the Arabian Capuchin Custody concelebrated the ceremony together with twenty priests from different parishes of Apostolic Vicariate; sisters from the Vicariate also participated. The colourful ceremony was magnified by almost three thousand Lay Faithful from various parishes of the Vicariate.
PASTORS — present
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. » more
Fr. Reinhold Sahner was born on 19 February 1960 in Mosbach/Baden, the southern part of Germany. After studies in philosophy and theology at the Universities of TŸbingen and Bamberg he moved to Denmark in 1988 and was ordained a priest in 1990 for the Diocese of Copenhagen. He worked as parish priest and taught German and History of Religious Thought at the Jesuit High School in Copenhagen.
From August 2012 he lived and worked in Abu Dhabi, with special responsibility for the German speaking communities in UAE and the Gulf countries, sent by the Secretariat for the Pastoral Care of Catholics Abroad of the German Episcopal Conference. He began his tenure as the parish priest here in late-November 2015.
Fr. Biju P George (Aloysius) Panickaparambil OFM Cap., was born on 27 November, 1971 in Udumpannoor, in the diocese of Kothamangalam, Kerala, India. At the age of four his family moved to another location, Elinjipra, in Irinjalakuda Diocese, where he had his schooling. He joined Capuchins on 8 June 1987 in Seraphic seminary Bharananganam, initiation course in Kattappana, and novitiate in Loretto ashram Muvattupuzha where he made his commitment on 15 May 1992. He pursued his philosophical studies in Calvary Philosophical College, Poothole, Thrissur during this time he secured a Bachelor degree of Philosophy from Calicut University and one year regency in different parts of Kerala with the downtrodden and underprivileged sharing their lot. He moved to northeast India, started his theological studies in Sacred Heart College Mawlai, Shillong later continued his theological studies in Capuchin Vidyabhavan. His final commitment was in May, 1998. He was born to priesthood on 27 November 1999, at Calvary Ashram Trichur. After the ordination he served as Asst. Parish priest in St. Jude Church, Malampuzha, Palakkad. He joined as the Asst. Rector and Dean of Studies in Bethlehem Minor Seminary, Elinjipra in May 2000. He was Parish Priest of St. George Church Kurumal, Thrissur, and Bursar of San Daminao Ashram Thalakkottukara at the same time from June 2002- June 2005. During this period he served as the professor in Calvary Philosophical College, Catechism promoter of the Velur Forane, in Thrissur diocese. He was visiting professor for psychology in Little Flower College, Guruvayoor and Family apostolate of training and research institute (FATRI), Veloor. He was also student in Prajyothy Nikethan College in Pudukkad in MSc Clinical psychology. In 2006, he joined in Kasturba Medical College Manippal, Karnataka, and obtained his MPhil in Clincal psychology from University of Manippal in 2008. He was appointed as Bursar in Nazareth Ashram in Aluva, incharge of Catechism, and Spiritual Director of SFO in Ernakulam Diocese. He continued his sevice as visiting professor for psychology in FATRI and St. Antonys College Kanjirappally. He found time in 2009 to be a missionary in Mikoke, in Malawi, Africa for a short duration. He also worked as Clinical psychologist in St James Hospital Chalakudy and had to say bye to all end of 2010 as he was asked to join Vicariate of Arabia. He started as Psychologic Guide in St Mary’s Higher Secondary School, Fujairah and as Asst. Priest in Mother of Perpetual Succour Church in Fujairah on November 1, 2010. He was Asst. Priest in St. Michaels’ Church, Sharjah from May 1, 2012. He is serving as Asst. Priest in Jebel Ali St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church now.
Fr. Mathew Kandathil was born on 10 April 1959 in Idukki district, Kerala, India. He did his minor seminary at Infant Mary's Minor Seminary, Tiruvalla, philosophy and theology at Papal Seminary Pune, Maharastra. He was ordained on 16 April 1986 and belongs to the Diocese of Bathery of the Syro Malankara Catholic Major Archiepiscopal Church. After his ordination, he served the Diocese of Bathery in various capacities, as the youth director, the family apostolate director, the corporate manager of the schools and colleges and parish priest of a few parishes. He has served in the Gulf countries for two years. Before he joined here, he has been serving the Diocese of Bathery as the procurator. He came to UAE on 16 June 2011 to serve as the Chaplain to the Syro Malankara catholics in the United Arab Emirates in the Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia, and helps out at St. Francis of Assisi parish in the priestly ministry.
Fr. Vincent Wijesuriya was born on 28 September 1966 in Dankotuwa, and his hometown is Pannala in the Kurunegala District in Sri Lanka. After his university studies, he had his priestly formation at the National Seminary Kandy, and got ordained on 21 December 1993. He served the Diocese of Kandy in various capacities, and the last parish he served was Nuwara Eliya. He came to U.A.E. on 8 October 2007, and was taking care of the spiritual needs of the faithful from Sri Lanka within Vicariate, while helping other communities in their spiritual needs. He returned back to the parish towards the end of 2014 after a two year tenure in Sri Lanka.
Fr. Maxim Cardoza was born on 15 May 1961 at Taccode Parish in the Mangalore Diocese in the South Indian State of Karnataka. He joined the Capuchin Order in 1981 and made his First Profession on 2 June 1982, and was ordained on 10 May 1990. After his ordination, he completed his Masters in Theology at St. Albert’s College, Ranchi, India in 1991. He completed a Doctorate in Theology from at Gregorian University in Rome in 1999. He worked in St. Fidelis Province, North India, serving as Provincial Secretary, Provincial Burser, Provincial Councillor, Director of Postulancy, and Director of Candidates. He has also taught in major seminaries, served as Guardian of the communities, and as parish priest.
PASTORS — past
Fr. Wilson Clifford Andrade O.F.M. Camp belonging to St. Fidelis province of North India. Born on 6 January 1958 as the eldest son of Mr. & Mrs. Dulcine Andrade. After schooling in his native village, Kemmannu, of the then Mangalore, now Udupi diocese in Karnataka, he joined the Cupuchins in Mangalore. After +2 at St. Aloysius College, Mangalore, 2 years of initial formation at St. Fidelis Ashram, Vikasnagar, Lucknow, he was sent to do his philosophical studies at Calvary Philosophical College, Trichur - together with graduation.
In 1980, he entered the Cupuchin novitiate at the Monte Mariano, Faragipet, Mangalore. On 2 June 1981, he made his simple profession, followed by a year of theological studies at Bangalore, and then at St. Alberts College for three years of Theological studies. Final profession on 3 June 1984 and ordained on 11 April 1985.
From 1985-1996 worked as a vocation promoter/facilitator of the province and as the director of initial formation at Chanpatia and Ranchi. From 1996-2014, worked in various schools as principal:
1. St.Conrad’s Inter College, Agra – U.P.
2. Hartmann College, Bareilly – U.P.
3. St. Fidelis College, Lucknow – U.P
From 2012-2014 sent on deputation to Holy Family High School, Bahanavar, Karnataka as a principal. From 26th October 2014 – 18th May 2016 was parish priest of the Cathedral of the Visitation of B.V.M Padri Ki Haveli, Patna City, Bihar. He has a post graduation – M.A. in Sociology M.A. in Psychology, from Agra, and a PhD in Psychology.
On 15th May, 2016, joined St. Francis of Assisi-Jebel Ali, Dubai in the pastoral team.
Fr. Wilson was taken ill on 3 January 2017 and taken back home to Lucknow, where he finally succumbed to the illness and passed away on 11 December 2017.
Fr. Joji Plamparambil was born on 2 June, 1973 in a tiny village named Malapparambu, near Perinthalmanna in the district of Malappuram, Kerala. He joined the Capuchin minor seminary at Dasna, Masoori and did his novitiate at Muvattupuzha, Kerala. He completed his philosophical studies from St. Francis College Eluru, Andhra Pradesh, obtaining his degree from the Andhra University. He did his final commitment on the 12 June, 2000 in the Capuchin province of Kristu Jyoti, India. He, then, completed his theological studies at the Holy Trinity regional Major Seminary Punjab, and obtained his Masters from the Rohilkhand University Barreli, Uttarpradesh. He was ordained on the 6 May, 2002.
Prior to coming to our parish, he served as the Parish Priest at the St. Thomas Church Bilaspur, Uttarpradesh, the St. Thomas Church Khalanoor, and at the St. Fidelis Church Masthkot, Punjab. Most recently, he was the asst. parish priest at St. Joseph's Cathedral, Abu Dhabi.
Fr. Prasanna Costa was born on 13 January 1965 in Chilaw in the North Western Province of Sri Lanka. He lived in Matale in the Central Province of Sri Lanka and had his primary education in Matale and the Secondary education in Kandy. He entered the Junior Seminary in 1980 and upon completing his Secondary Education joined the National Seminary of Our Lady of Sri Lanka in Ampitiya, Kandy. Having completed his Philosophical and Theological studies, he obtained the Bachelors Degree in Theology and was ordained a Priest on 28 October 1989 in his home town parish St. Thomas' church, Matale for the Diocese of Kandy. Appointed as an Assistant Priest in the Parishes or Ragala and St. Anthony's Cathedral Kandy, also worked as the Parish Priest of Panwila and Nuwara Eliya Parishes. In 1995 he left for further studies to Rome and obtained a Masters Degree in Moral Theology from Alfonsianum University in 1997. Then he was appointed as the Rector of the Junior Seminary and became the Procurator General of the Diocese. Subsequently he served in the Parishes of Gatambe, Nawalapitiya, Gampola and the Cathedral parish of Kandy. He has also served as Diocesan Director of Pontificial Mission Societies (PMS). Before coming to UAE he served in the Parish of Tawalantenna. He is a Diocesan Priest of the Diocese of Kandy now incardinated in the Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia from January, 2013.
Fr. Vincent Wijesuriya was born on 28 September 1966 in Dankotuwa, and his hometown is Pannala in the Kurunegala District in Sri Lanka. After his university studies, he had his priestly formation at the National Seminary Kandy, and got ordained on 21 December 1993. He served the Diocese of Kandy in various capacities, and the last parish he served was Nuwara Eliya. He came to U.A.E. on 8 October 2007, and was taking care of the spiritual needs of the faithful from Sri Lanka within Vicariate, while helping other communities in their spiritual needs.
Fr. Peter Kadamankod is a Catholic priest, member of the order of the imitation of Christ (OIC) a, in the Syro-Malankar Church of the Antiochean liturgical tradition. Born in 1947, he was ordained to the priesthood in 1975. During his tenure in the UAE, he served as chaplain to the Malankara Catholics of the UAE and Qatar, and also assisted at our parish in Jebel Ali.
Fr. Warnakulasuriya Anthony Fernando was born in Nigambo, Sri Lanka, on March 17 1948. He was ordained priest on July 22, 1975 for the Diocese of Kandy. He worked in different parishes of the diocese and also for the diocese of Rockville Centre, New York; and followed a pastoral course at East Asian Pastoral Institute, Quezon City, Philippines. He served at our parish from Sep 26, 2005 to 2007 and catered to the Sri Lankan communities in the GCC. He is well versed in Tamil.
Fr. Johnson K. Joseph was born on 27 January, 1963 in a tiny village named Thudanganad in Kerala, India. He joined the Capuchins and made final his commitment on May 15, 1983; and was ordained on January 4, 1990. Before coming to Jebel Ali on January 16, 2005, he served in the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Orissa.
Fr. Thomas Quadros joined our parish in May 2003.
Fr. Conrad D'Souza served at our parish from August 2002 until May 2003
Temporary Profession: 01 May 1962
Perpertual Profession: 16 May 1965
Ordination: 06 October 1968.
Fr. Wilson Pascal Sisto
Temporary Profession: 01 June 1975
Perpertual Profession: 10 May 1980
Ordination: 25 March 1981.
Fr. Ani Xavier was the first assistant parish priest and served until June 2002.
Fr. John Fernandaz description.
On 9 March 2015, Fr. Daniel Cerofolini passed away in the infirmary of the Capuchin Friary of Montughi in Florence, at the age of 95, a professed Capuchin for 75 years, a priest for 69 years and a missionary for 56 years.
Born on 27 December 1919, he joined the Capuchin Seminary at 16. Two years after his ordination in 1946, he travelled by boat to India and worked in the mission of his province in the north for 23 years; he became fluent in Hindi and Urdu, which was later of great help in the Gulf.
From 1972–1974, he served in the mission of his Tuscan Province in Central Tanzania and was then transferred to the Gulf mission of the Capuchins and stayed for 30 years until his retirement in 2004 at the age of 85.
Aden was his first appointment in the Gulf, where the political turmoil of the time brought a lot of suffering for the missionaries.
From 1976 to the blessing of the new St. Joseph's Church in Abu Dhabi, he was Parish Priest of Abu Dhabi for 8 years, then of St. Mary's, Dubai, for 20 years – with a short stay in Al Ain in the mid-80s. As Parish Priest of St. Mary's, he built the new St. Francis of Assisi Church in Jebel Ali which was inaugurated in November 2001, and became an independent parish.
Fr. Daniel was loved by everybody; his leadership was strong but also just, he gave himself totally. For many years he was also Regular Superior of the Capuchin Friars in the Gulf and on the council of the Bishop.
Bishop Giovanni Bernardo Gremoli (1926–2017) 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.