Sacred Heart Church (Manama, Bahrain), is a Roman Catholic parish in Manama, Bahrain. The church is one of only two catholic churches in Bahrain (the other being the Catholic Church of Our Lady of the Visitation in Awali). The Sacred Heart Church serves an estimated 140,000 people. The parish priest is Fr. Dinesh Mendonca.
Roman Catholicism in Bahrain
The Roman Catholic Church in Bahrain is part of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope and curia in Rome.
Most Bahraini Christians are Greek Orthodox and the Catholic community is almost entirely expatriates from India, Lebanon, the Philippines and Europe. There is a large Catholic church, the Sacred Heart, which dominates one of Manama’s main thoroughfares.
There are no dioceses in the country, but it comes under the jurisdiction of the Apostolic Vicariate of Arabia. In 1999, Bahrain established diplomatic relations with the Holy See.
Christianity in Bahrain
There are a large number of Christians in Bahrain, and can be divided into 2 groups. They are:Expatriate Christians – Foreign citizens from all the world who live and work in Bahrain. They make up the bulk or majority of Christians in Bahrain. They are a mix of Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant Christians.
Bahraini Christians – Christians who hold Bahraini citizenship. There are as many as 1,000 citizens of Bahrain who are Christian, the majority of whom emigrated to Bahrain and received the Bahraini citizenship. Primarily, they are originally from Jordan, Palestine, and Iraq, although there are smaller numbers from Lebanon, Syria, and India. The majority of Bahraini citizens tend to be Greek Orthodox. They enjoy many religious and social freedoms, and even have members in the Bahraini government. Bahrain is one of the few GCC countries to have a local Christian population. The Churches include, but are not limited to:
St. Christopher’s Cathedral – Anglican
Sacred Heart Church (Manama, Bahrain) – Catholic
The National Evangelical Church
The Bahrain Malayalee Church of South India
St. Mary’s Orthodox Church – Indian Orthodox
St. Peter’s Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church
The Mar Thoma Church & St.Paul’s Marthoma Church
Sacred Heart main church 1940 In January H.E. Giovanni Baptista Tirinanzi, Apostilic Vicar of Arabia, then based in Aden, came to Bahrain to meet the then Emir of Bahrain, Sheikh Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa with plans to build a church in Bahrain. The foundation stone for the new church was laid on June 9. Fr. Luigi Magliacani, whom Mgr. Tirinanzi knew as an expert in the building of churches, was called to Bahrain and given responsibility of building the church. Within a few months, the church, the priests residence, and a small school were built.
The first mass, the Christmas midnight mass was held in the new church. It was formally blessed on March 3, 1940. The parish was the first of its kind in the Persian Gulf.
The Comboni sisters were first brought in May 1953. They were given the role of taking care of the school. As the gulf began to experience the oil boom,more and more Catholics were beginning to arrive in Bahrain. To cater to their needs, St Barth’s Hall was built in 1958 to provide a place for social gatherings. This building also included the residential accommodation for priests.
Through the next 30 years as the number of Catholics grew the church, now referred to as the ‘Mother Church’, was unable to cater to the needs of community. The church underwent a major expansion under the leadership of Fr. Felicio Diniz, the previous parish priest of the church most significant of which was the building of the Main church which opened in 1990 and which is still used today. Other major developments include the building of the Parish community center and the Third Millennium building.
3rd Millennium Building The church currently caters to the large expatriate population in Bahrain. The parish consists of Indians, Filipinos, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Sri Lankans and Arabs (mostly from Lebanon but also from Palestine and Syria). The main language used in services is English, although there are services conducted in Arabic, Malayalam, Tamil, Konkani, Telugu, and Sinhalese.
The church also hosts a number of communal activities, the most famous of which is the Family Day festival which occurs on the first week of February every year.The Church completed 70 years in 2009.
King of Bahrain Donates Land for Catholic church
Bahrain will donate a plot of land to build a new Catholic church in the country. The decision by King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa comes in response to a request Pope Benedict XVI made to the Gulf State when its new ambassador presented its credentials last 18 December.
“Everyone is aware today that because of the rising number of Catholics, it would be desirable for them to have more places of worship,” the Pope said during the audience with Naser Muhamed Youssef Al-Belooshi, first representative of the Arab kingdom to the Vatican.
About 80 per cent of the 800,000 people living in the country are Muslim (60 per cent Sunni and 20 per cent Shia). Catholics represent about 10 per cent, mostly foreign workers from Asian nations.
Bahrain became the first country in the Persian Gulf to build a Catholic church, the Sacred Heart Church, which will celebrate its 70th anniversary this year, since it was inaugurated with a Christmas Midnight Mass in 1939.
Relations between the Holy See and the Gulf kingdom saw significant progress in 2008. Not only did the Vatican receive the first ambassador from Bahrain, but King Hamad met Pope Benedict XVI as well. After the meeting on 9 July the sovereign issued an official communiqué inviting the Holy Father to visit the country.
When he heard that the Catholic community was going to get a new place of worship, Rev Hani Aziz of the National Evangelical Church said he hoped that the king could generously donate a plot of land to build a new Evangelical church as well.
Mon — 6:25 AM — English Mass —> Mother Church +
Mon — 6:00 PM — English Mass —> Multi-Purpose Hall +
Tue — 6:25 AM — English Mass —> Mother Church +
Tue — 6:00 PM — English Mass —> Multi-Purpose Hall + Novena to St. Anthony
Wed — 6:25 AM — English Mass —> Mother Church +
Wed — 5:30 PM — English Mass —> Multi-Purpose Hall + Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour
Wed — 7:00 PM — English Mass —> Multi-Purpose Hall + Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour
Thu — 6:25 AM — English Mass —> Mother Church +
Thu — 6:00 PM — English Mass —> Multi-Purpose Hall +
Fri — 7:30 AM — English Mass —> Multi-Purpose Hall + Obligation Mass
Fri — 9:00 AM — English Mass —> Multi-Purpose Hall + Obligatin Mass
Fri — 9:15 AM — English Mass —> Bishop Terinanci Auditorium + Obligation Mass – Children Mass
Fri — 10:15 AM — English Mass —> Multi-Purpose Hall + Obligation Mass – Youth Mass
Fri — 11:30 AM — Arabic Mass —> Mother Church + Obligation Mass
Fri — 12:00 NN — Filipino Mass —> Multi-Purpose Hall + Obligation Mass
Fri — 3:00 PM — Adoration Tamil —> Mother Church + Every Friday except first Friday
Fri — 4:00 PM — Adoration Konkani —> Mother Church + Every Friday except first Friday
Fri — 4:15 PM — Adoration English —> Multi-Purpose Hall + First Friday of every month
Fri — 5:30 PM — English Mass —> Multi-Purpose Hall + Obligation Mass
Fri — 7:00 PM — Malayalam Mass —> Multi-Purpose Hall + Obligation Mass
Fri — 7:00 PM — Tamil Mass —> Bishop Terinanci Auditorium + Obligation Mass
Sat — 6:25 AM — English Mass —> Mother Church +
Sat — 10:30 AM — Italian/Spanish Mass —> Mother Church + Obligation Mass
Sat — 5:00 PM — French Mass —> Mother Church + Obligation Mass – Every 2nd Saturday
Sat — 6:30 PM — English Mass —> Multi-Purpose Hall + Obligation Mass
Sat — 6:30 PM — English Mass —> Mother Church + Obligation Mass-Sacred Heart School Children
Sat — 7:30 PM — Deepening of Catholic Faith —> Bishop Terinanci Auditorium + Every 2nd Saturday of each month
Sat — 7:30 PM — Konkani Mass —> Multi-Purpose Hall + Obligation Mass
Sun — 6:30 AM — English Mass —> Mother Church + Obligation Mass
Sun — 7:00 AM — Filipino Mass —> Multi-Purpose Hall + Obligation Mass
Sun — 9:00 AM — English Mass —> Multi-Purpose Hall + Obligation Mass
Sun — 4:15 PM — Konkani Mass —> Multi-Purpose Hall + Obligation Mass
Sun — 5:30 PM — English Mass —> Multi-Purpose Hall + Obligation Mass
Sun — 7:00 PM — English Mass —> Multi-Purpose Hall + Obligation Mass
M-S — 6:00 AM — Adoration Personal —> Adoration Chapel + Silent Adoration daily