A brief history of St. Dionysius Orthodox Church, Al-Ain

A brief history of St. Dionysius Orthodox Church, Al-Ain Al-Ain, the eastern Province of Abu Dhabi Emirate is a geographically blessed land, having exceptional features, usually glorified as the garden city of odoriferous flowers and full greenery all the time. And it is one of the best Oases of the Arabian Gulf. The term ‘Al Ain’ literally means ‘of eyes’ (tears).  The availability of the sweet water from the stream, which is as good as the tears, might have attributed the name to the land. As the origin of the stream is still a surprise, many attribute a link to the Old Testament experiences of the people who are believed to pass through these areas, on their way to the Promised Land and miracles of God Almighty sent to them then and there. The history of St. Dionysius Orthodox Church, Al Ain is the part and parcel of the initial history of St. George Orthodox Cathedral, Abu Dhabi. When oil was excavated in sand and water of Abu Dhabi in 1960s many foreigners reached Abu Dhabi, in search of their livelihood. Among them there were many Keralites and among them a few belonged to the Orthodox Church. A few from those who reached Abu Dhabi were posted in Al Ain by the public and private sectors. The Orthodox members who were in Abu Dhabi got united together and formed a Congregation in 1968. In 1970, the congregation in Abu Dhabi was elevated as a Parish and Rev. Fr. T.A. Jacob was appointed as the resident vicar by the then Metropolitan of outside Kerala Diocese. Until then priests from Bahrain used to visit Abu Dhabi on intervals of three months or so, to meet the spiritual needs of the faithful. As and when a resident Vicar reached Abu Dhabi, the Orthodox faithful who lived in Al-Ain and neighboring places contacted him and as a result a congregation was organized. He used to visit Al-Ain and prayer meetings were conducted in the houses of either one of the faithful. In due course Holy Eucharist was celebrated at the Roman Catholic Church once in a while. During the tenure of Rev. Fr. T.A. Jacob, our first Church in Abu Dhabi was erected. When Rev. Fr. C.K. Joseph (present V. Rev. Ramban) replaced the previous Vicar of Abu Dhabi, he could find more time to concentrate on the Al-Ain congregation. During his tenure the services at Al-Ain were arranged systematically. Prayer meetings were arranged every week and Holy Eucharist once or twice in a month. The same practice continued during the tenures of Rev. Fr. P.M. Kuriakose, Rev. Fr. K.T. Thomas, (Present H.G. Thomas Mar Athanasios Metropolitan of Chengannur), Rev.Fr. V.K. Varghese till Rev. Fr. Sam. V. Gabriel. During the tenure of Rev. Fr. Sam V. Gabriel, Al-Ain Congregation was elevated as a Parish with independent status.