Last week Catholics in Southern Arabia gathered in Abu Dhabi to celebrate the ordination of two Capuchin Franciscan priests by Bishop Paul Hinder, Vicar Apostolic of Southern Arabia.

Fr. Darick Paul D'Souza and Fr. Arun Raj Manuel were ordained at a Mass in St. Joseph's Cathedral in the capital of the United Arab Emirates Jan. 8, for the Holy Trinity (Karnataka) and St. Francis (Kerala) provinces of the Capuchins, respectively.

The Vicariate Apostolic of Southern Arabia serves the more than 2 million Catholics who live in the UAE, Oman, and Yemen. Around 76 percent of the population of the UAE is Muslim, while Christians constitute around nine percent. Many of the Catholics there are guest workers from India, Africa, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and the Philippines, though some are local Arabs.

Both the new priests are examples of this trend.

Fr. D'Souza was born in Shirva, a village 12 miles southeast of Udupi in India's Karnataka state, and Fr. Manuel was born in Kerala state. But both grew up in the UAE after their parents migrated: Fr. D'Souza in Dubai, and Fr. Manuel (who was studying medicine when he entered seminary) in Abu Dhabi.

Bishop Hinder was instrumental in helping the two discern their priestly vocations.

During his homily, the bishop noted the fittingness of the coincidence of the ordination with the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord.

“Today again the heavens will open and the Spirit of God will descend and confirm your mission as priests,” he said.

He urged the new priests to “exercise the Word (of God) worthily and wisely, preaching the Gospel and Catholic faith … when you proclaim the Word of God, you do not present yourself but you give way to the Lord who is the true actor in proclaiming the Gospel.”

Bishop Hinder added that priests are not mere “functionaries of an ecclesiastical institutions, but witnesses and servants sent to administer the mysteries of Christ to our brothers and sisters.”

“Avoid falling into a mechanical routine; always keep fresh the preferential love that Jesus shows you,” he urged the new priests. “For this purpose you have to unite more closely everyday to Christ … take daily your time for personal prayer and never think that time spent in prayer is lost time, or useless.”

He also cautioned them to remember to, “especially as Capuchin priests, never be after money. Beware of the generosity of the people, which always can be a temptation; but rather be on the side of the poor and the needy, and show them solidarity whenever you can.”

“Keep Jesus in mind, who was not ashamed to stay with the sinners, to heal the sick, and to give relief to the downtrodden.”

Bishop Hinder reminded the candidates of the rule of St. Francis of Assisi, who said that the brothers must rejoice when they live among the people considered of little value and looked down upon, among the poor and powerless, the sick and the lepers, and the beggars by the wayside.

The Mass was concelebrated by Fr. Joseph Pais, provincial of the Holy Trinity Capuchin Province; Fr. John Baptist, vicar provincial of the St. Francis of Assisi Capuchin Province; Fr. Troy della Santos, vicar general of the Southern Arabian vicariate apostolic; and several priests of the vicariate.

More than 4,000 laity attended the Mass, which was followed by a social which included a video presentation on the new priests' journey to the priesthood, and a short play.