Friday, August 01, 2014  


St Mary's Summer Programme 2009 : A Glimpse - 7/17/2009

St Mary's Catholic Church Dubai News Network

As the summer gains momentum, schools get their summer break which means it is holiday season -  for school children, teachers and also for families - a time to proceed on holiday.


Then there has to be an alternative for those who are not proceeding on holiday -  here comes the summer camp for children!  St Mary's Summer Programme is no exception to this rule:  A record number of 200 children from the age group 8 to 15 commenced their summer surprise package on Saturday 27 June with a short inauguration ceremony in the parish Main Hall. 


Fr Seraphine, Chairman of the Organising Committee together with Fr Varghese, Fr Peter and Fr Freddy at the inauguration ceremony

Team of supervisors and volunteers with the members of the Organising Committee
All set to go....the participants of the Summer Camp
The summer camp is scheduled to run for four weeks, six days a week from 8 am to 1 pm with the grand finale scheduled for Saturday 25 July when the children will showcase their talents.
Here are a few pictures which provide an insight into the theme of the Summer Programme, "Learning is Fun".

The day begins with singing and praising the Lord
The young creators making the rosary, before reciting the Rosary !
All in line for Line Dance
Learning the skills of public speaking
 Now we can help mum to prepare the salad!
Interactive learning... roleplay and all
Mind Mapping
Nourish the body as well - thanks to KDD and Winneys for juice and snacks
See...touch...feel... first hand knowledge at field trips
A sponsor's gift: "The Youngest" to cultivate the reading habit
Work of young culinary artists: Decorated cupcakes .... yummy to eat!
Bible Resource Centre - modern day tool for faith formation
Learning to put out the fire


 Plant a seed today for flowers tomorrow !
Fancy Dress Competition winners take it all !

St Paul : A Role Model for Every Christian - 8/2/2009

St Mary's Catholic Church Dubai News Network

Whilst the catholic church all over the world was preparing to close the year dedicated to St. Paul (28 June 2008 to 29 June 2009), St. Mary's Parish organized a seminar on the life of St. Paul, an event which targeted that parishioners would increase their knowledge on the challenges faced during the build up of the first Christians. 

 Dr. Manfred Diefenbach from the Bishop's house visited us from Abu Dhabi and presented an interactive talk on 26 June 2009 which involved questionnaires, handouts, biblical search tips, power point presentation, flip chart diagrams and interaction with the audience.



Choosing the subject of the day as 'Ministers of the Word of God', Dr. Manfred went deep into the 'W' and 'H' questions - 'who, what, when, where, why and how' related to St Paul.


In answer to "Who is St. Paul", Dr Manfred guided all to the personal information on St Paul in his Letters and the Acts of the Apostles. The 'What, Where and How' were demonstrated with three readers using the triangle of communication - sender, receiver and message. The Sender was St. Paul and his co-workers. The constant message that can be traced through the letters of St. Paul to the Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Thessalonians, Philippians and Philemon was "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ". The big question 'why did St. Paul do this' was because he wanted to get the Good News to as many people in as short a time as possible.



Dr. Manfred referred to best technology and infrastructure as a means of communication. While the Pope today uses U-Tube, in his time St. Paul used the highways to go to Corinth to spread the good news. He started at the market places after which the people invited him over to the family. From there the church grew. Many families formed the church and then came the Parish. Today we have the vicariate, leading to the Vatican.



 Concluding the event, Dr Manfred stressed on the role of a parent in the Christian family and asked parents to 'walk the talk'. "We are simply God's instruments to spread the Good News", he emphasised.

Celebration of the Feast of Corpus Christi - 8/2/2009

St Mary's Catholic Church Dubai News Network
Hundreds of parishioners led by Archbishop Rev. Vincent Concesso and seven priests thronged St Mary's Church in Dubai to celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi with profound enthusiasm on Friday 12 June 2009.



To reflect the spirit of the day that signifies the institution of the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist - the body and blood of Christ - with sincere devotion, meaningfully decorated special altars were set up in the church premises by the following parish groups: Arabic, Konkani, Filippino, Malayalam, Sri Lankan, Tamil, Urdu communities, Goan Sodality and Our Lady of Blue Army.  Additionally, a special main altar was set up by Konkan Yuva (Youth Group of Konkani Community) in front of the main entrance to the church.




Corpus Christi became a mandatory feast in the Roman Church in 1312 to encourage the faithful to give special honour to the Holy Eucharist in the Blessed Sacrament. The significance of the day is aptly portrayed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC-1324): "The Eucharist is a source and summit of the Christian life."




At St Mary's Catholic Church in Dubai, the feast is traditionally marked by intense participation by all sodalities and prayer groups. This year, children who received their First Holy Communion turned up for the occasion in their white robes while flower girls pelted rose petals on the way the Blessed Sacrament was carried by the Celebrants in a solemn procession after the 6.15pm mass. The congregation moved piously during the procession, singing hymns and praises to glorify the Body and Blood of Christ.





At each altar, the congregation was given special blessings by the Archbishop and the priests with the tolling of the bells.


The evening drew to a grand conclusion with special benediction from the Main Celebrant Archbishop Concesso at the special main altar erected in front of the main entrance to the church.


The presence of a large number of devotees, the pious invocation, the tolling of rhythmic bells, and the passionate involvement of various prayer groups and sodalities turned the Feast of Corpus Christi at St Marys Church in Dubai into another memorable occasion in glorifying our Lord.'

Change of Guards at St Mary's - 8/4/2009

St Mary's Catholic Church Dubai News Network

A concelebrated high mass led by His Excellency Paul Hinder, Vicar Apostolic of Arabia, with 14 co-celebrants followed by an enthusiastic welcome and farewell ceremony in the Main Hall marked the change of guards at St Mary's Parish on 3 July 2009, the Feast of Apostle St. Thomas. 

Scores of parishioners participated in the thanksgiving Eucharistic celebration and the ceremony to welcome Rev Fr Tomasito Veneracion and bid farewell to Rev Fr P. M. Peter and Rev Fr Zaki Parra, who will assume their roles as Parish Priest and Assistant Parish Priest at Our Lady of Rosary Church in Doha, Qatar.


A solemn procession of altar servers, parish council members, group leaders, lay ministers, and the Concelebrants marked the beginning of the evening's proceedings. During his homily, Bishop Paul Hinder underlined the importance of change and asked the congregation to work with the new parish priest for the overall benefit of the parish. Highlighting the spiritual aspect of accepting change, he said: "You have to remember the High Priest in charge will continue to be Our Lord in the tabernacle. Acknowledging His presence is all the more relevant and necessary before we begin our endeavours."




Before the homily, Bishop Paul Hinder read out the official letter mandating Fr Tomasito as the Parish Priest of St Mary's Church, Dubai. After the sermon, a short ceremony witnessed the members of the Parish Council and the group leaders pledging their commitment to work with the new appointee.



The scene shifted to the Main Hall, by now packed with eager parishioners to participate in the evening's events that began with the arrival of the Bishop and the priests who were welcomed with the singing of a hymn by the altar servers. In his welcome address, Parish Council member Vimal Fonseka underscored the 'dual purpose ceremony' of the evening organized for the incumbents' departure and greeting the new priest from Doha.





Catechism children representing a cross-section of the largest groups in the parish presented an action song to welcome the gathering.



In her special welcome address to Rev Fr Tomasito, Aboline D'Cunha, Vice President of the Parish Council, pointed out the significance of the reception organized on the Feast day of St. Thomas.  She said: "Rev Fr Tomasito has accomplished several feats during his tenure in Doha including the establishment of a massive church and ample facilities for catechism children replacing the small parish centre."  She added: "We welcome you Father and you will get a glimpse of what St Mary's Parish can offer you from this evening's activities."


In response Rev Fr Tomasito asked for parishioners' to support him in his spiritual work: "This is an enormous task and I ask God's blessings and your prayers to help me fill the shoes of a Parish Priest in Dubai."



His Excellency Bishop Paul Hinder in his address underlined Fr Tomasito's great sense of humour and highlighted the pain and joy of the occasion. He also reminded the parishioners of the day "when Fr. Peter was installed as parish priest of St Mary's Church in the presence of two bishops" (His Excellency Bernard Gremoli apart from his very own self). Praising Fr Zaki for his contribution, Bishop Hinder also pointed out the role played by the priest at Gala in Oman before his arrival to Dubai.


Bishop Hinder noted that "Both priests leave Dubai, one of the most well-organized parishes to be welcomed by the complexities of a fast growing Doha parish. But I am sure their experience will come handy and the vibrant Doha community will welcome them." The Bishop also praised the congregation for their support to the clergy and the generosity of their heart.



Maria Gomes, member of the Parish Council, in her address on Fr Zaki referred to the priest's characteristic remark: "Do not try to change me. Then I cannot be Fr Zaki."  Serving the Filipino community of Dubai as their spiritual director for the past five years, Fr Zaki was much admired for his physical prowess as much for his spiritual wellbeing. Of course, the Dubai community will miss his powerful musical exultations during the Easter Vigil.  A memento with special inscription was then presented to Fr Zaki.


Fr Zaki in his distinctive manner said: "Dubai has been part of my life. God has continuously provided me with challenges but he has also given me the courage and strength to overcome such challenges."  Thanking the priests, sisters and Bishop Paul Hinder, he said the Bishop has been a brother and a friend, and added: "I will always cherish Dubai as a special place that helped me in my spiritual transformation." He said that Doha would be a new chapter in his life, enriched by the knowledge he gained from Dubai.  For being fortunate to be with Fr Peter in Doha, he continued: "In my next chapter, I need to load new applications but the 'Operating System' will remain the same as I am going to be with Fr Peter." Pointing out "There are no goodbyes, only long 'see you later' in life", he concluded his address by playing a sentimental number on his guitar.


As an interlude the Come Alive Youth Group offered their musical Hail Mary in gratitude to the two departing priests. 



In her farewell address to Fr Peter, Leela D'Souza, Parish Council Secretary listed the numerical strength of St Mary's Parish in terms of various communities and prayer groups, volunteers, catechism children and catechists, choirs, altar servers and lay ministers. She pointed out that Fr Peter has stolen the hearts of all in Dubai with his inspiring homilies, his constant availability to the needs of the parishioners, continued support to all parish groups and specially by his generosity.  She emphasized that the church compound is a witness to the variety of facilities provided to the ever increasing Catholic population of the parish.  A memento together with a photo album of memories was then presented to Fr Peter.


Former Liturgical Coordinator Fred Ellis walked up to the stage despite his trying physical condition and thanked Fr Peter and Fr Zaki for their contributions.   In his distinctly classical humour Mr Ellis gently informed Fr Tomasito that the parish stands to benefit from the new priest, while he will also stand to "learn quite a few things from the parish". 


In his address to the parishioners, Fr Peter acknowledged their support saying, "A bird cannot be a bird unless it flies; a song cannot be a song unless it can be sung; a bell cannot be a bell unless it tolls; and so gratitude cannot be termed gratitude unless it is expressed."  He also offered his sincere gratitude to Bishop Paul Hinder, the Parish Council, Vice Provincial Rev Fr Varghese, Fred Ellis, Comboni sisters, team of priests in Dubai, the army of well-trained volunteers as well as the diverse communities and prayer groups for their magnanimity. He specially acknowledged the catechists' role in spiritually guiding the children of the parish, while calling the staff at St Mary's Church as 'miracle workers'.


He also dedicated his thanks to two 'special people', Bishop Gremoli and Rev Fr Daniel who always supported and steered him through his early years in Dubai and added he could never ever bid farewell to them.



The evening's proceedings culminated with a special skit presented by the youth  that brought out the hidden gems from the lives of the outgoing priests. It was a great revelation for the entire congregation to know that Fr Peter dreamt of becoming a soldier when he was a boy. And a soldier he did become - a Soldier of Christ.


In his address, Rev Fr Varghese said: "As the Vice Provincial, I am proud of what Fr Peter, Fr Zaki, Fr Tomasito and all other Capuchins have done to contribute to the spiritual well-being of the community in the vicariate." 



As a true representation of the rich diversity of St Mary's Parish, the Jim Reeves number "May the Good Lord Bless and Keep You" was sung in nine different languages jointly by members of all parish choirs led by Heather D'Souza.

Sydney Lewis, Parish Council member, proposed the vote of thanks for the evening. Active compeering by Edsel Pais added glitter to the colourful events of the evening.

A cake was cut to celebrate the 'double delight' of 4th of July - ordination anniversary of Bishop Paul Hinder and birthday of Fr Peter.  In conclusion His Lordship offered the grace before meals, thus inviting the large gathering of parishioners to partake in the fellowship prepared by various communities. 



The Jewel in the Crown: Summer Camp Closing Function - 8/6/2009

St Mary's Catholic Church Dubai News Network

When the fast paced activities of the month long summer programme come to a close, naturally the closing function will be like the jewel in the crown, to say the least!


Saturday 25 July 2009 saw the participants of the summer programme brimming with excitement to showcase their talents to their parents, supervisors, trainers, organizers and the invited guests.  After all, it was their show!








The evening started with a synchronized dance by participants of batches 3 to 6 to the music of 'Doe, a Deer', assisted by Youth for Christ.  The little children recited the opening prayer and welcomed the guests.  With audio visual aid a short activity report of the summer programme was then presented.  Fr Tomasito in his address congratulated the children for their enthusiasm in participating as well as showcasing the evening's activities. He urged everyone to remember their childhood and to be inspired by it for the remainder of their life.  Programme Chairman Fr Seraphine appreciated the efforts of the children who were wholly dedicated to the festivities of the evening.  The resource people as well as the supervisors and volunteers who manned the summer programme were felicitated in appreciation of their self-less services.



The various batches of participants then presented their cultural events to the thunderous applause of the audience.





The vote of thanks was followed by light refreshments.




The summer camp was sponsored by BD and Sanofi Aventis, together with KDD and 'The Youngest' magazine.

Feast of the Assumption of Blessed Virgin Mary - 10/2/2009

St Mary's Catholic Church Dubai News Network

A three-priest solemn high mass in the evening, followed by a huge candle light procession participated in large numbers by devout parishioners marked the Feast of the Assumption of Blessed Virgin Mary, Parish Feast of St Mary's Catholic Church,  Dubai on August 15, 2009.


Led by the Parish Priest Rev Fr. Tomasito Veneracion, Rev Fr. Michael Cardoz and Rev Fr. Antonio, the procession included the altar servers and lay ministers leading to the main altar. 

Fr Tomasito, in his introduction, reminded the parishioners of the importance of the day - the feast that celebrates the patroness of the Dubai church. He urged the congregation to be proud of Mother Mary's patronage and remain on the spiritual path in our prayer.


In his homily, Fr Michael Cardoz exhorted the parishioners to remain spiritually proactive by leading a pious life and praying the Rosary. Citing the example of Tom Hamilton, a pilot in World War II who was the lone survivor of his 24-strong squadron, the preacher highlighted the power of the prayer 'Hail Mary'. Tom Hamilton was fervently praying the Hail Mary even after his aircraft was shot and he had to eject himself. "It was only the prayer that miraculously saved him from certain death inside the enemy lines," he said.


In this context, he asked the congregation to think of Mother Mary's apparition to poor children with similar messages in Fatima and Lourdes. "Pray the rosary as a family," he emphasized once again, highlighting the importance of the occasion and the need to be conscious of our commitment to help the poor.  

 After the mass, parishioners streamed out of the church guided by volunteers along the demarcated path with the altar servers once again in the lead. With banners held aloft by members of the Legion of Mary, other volunteers carried the statue of Mother Mary with reverence on their shoulders.


 The laity and the clergy in the procession piously praying the rosary and singing Ave Maria after every decade, gathered in front of the grotto and concluded the invocations with the Litany of Mother Mary.  Fr Tomasito consecrated our parish once again to our Lady of Assumption by reciting the prayer followed by a special Blessing to the participating congregation.


The spiritually enriching hymns from the choir, the commitment from entire liturgical ministry, the precise arrangements by the volunteers sodality in coordination with the Parish Council members, made the Feast of the Assumption of Blessed Virgin Mary another memorable occasion this year. 



New Football Champions: St Mary's High School - 10/18/2009

St Mary's Catholic Church Dubai News Network

Two weeks of grit, sweat and glory concludes with the crowning of a new champion !!

 The evening of Friday 16th October 2009 saw the parish youth come forward and compete for the coveted Championship Trophy - The Youth Football Tournament.   

Out of the 10 teams which participated in the tournament from 1st October, following four teams reached the semi-final stage:

St. Mary's School - B Team
Jesus Youth - A Team
New Life Youth Choir
African Youth





 The first round of the semi-finals were played by the St. Mary's School team against the New Life Youth Choir. The school team advanced to the finals where they were amicably challenged by the African Youth who were victorious in the second round of the semi-finals against Jesus Youth.
The final game was an absolute thriller and the spectators had a lot to cheer about. The 2 time defending champions - African Youth had to succumb to the young guns of St. Mary's School as they emerged victorious. The St. Mary's School team was rightfully the true champions of the Sports Fest as they emerged triumphant in every game that they played!
The closing ceremony was graced by the Parish Priest Rev. Fr. Tomasito Veneracion, the Comboni Sisters, Parish Council Members and the supporting and cheering parishioners.

Special Trophies were given to the following:
Player of the tournament  - K C,  African Youth
Youngest Goal Scorer      - Danny D'Cruz,  CCD (4 goals)
Best Goalkeeper              - Norton,  St Mary's School B Team
The overall standings were:
1st Place  - St Mary's School B Team
2nd Place - African Youth
3rd Place - Jesus Youth A Team.







The event  initiated by the Parish Council and coordinated with the representatives of various youth groups of the parish, was a grand success and was fruitful in bringing together  the different youth groups of the parish once again which took place soon after Youth Quake 2 held during September.

Hearty Congratulations to the winning teams as well as to all the participating teams for their sportive spirit. 

Earlier on 1st October the Tournament was inaugurated by the Parish Priest. 





Christian Parenting : A need of the Hour - 10/21/2009

St Mary's Catholic Church Dubai News Network

St Mary's Catholic Church in Dubai witnessed yet another Christian Parenting seminar on 31 August and 1 September 2009 which focused on the upbringing of children in the age group of 6 to 13.  The presentations from Toastmaster and communications expert Ronald Olivera, Clinical Psychologists Dr Tara Wyne, Dr Saliha Afridi, and Marisa Lobo Biddappa, management expert Royston Fernandes and Rev Fr Michael Cardoz covered related topics like 'Communication in Family', 'Quality Time in a Family', 'Anger Management', 'Keeping Your Child Safe', 'Building Trust and Self-Esteem' and 'Family Prayer Life'.  In addition to the speakers, Rev Sr Magdalene and Dr Josephine joined the question/answer panel. 

 The remarkably enlightening and spiritually enriching sessions helped parents understand the various facets of handling children in different situations, and raise them on the solid foundation of true Christian values. Parents also realized that times have changed and so has life in the modern world, necessitating the way children are tackled, quite different from the way they themselves were raised in a previous generation.

In her welcome address, Vice-President of the Parish Council, Aboline D'Cunha recollected about the earlier 'Christian Parenting Seminar' organized successfully in 2007 and said that "Children are our priceless possessions, who  watch, imitate and learn diligently from their parents" She cautioned the parents "Don't worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you".

The first speaker Ronald Olivera, discussed about how communication acts as a cornerstone for relationships. He said: "Good marriage is like a good handshake and parents are the pillars of a family. Even a minor tremor can prove detrimental to the very foundations. That is why communication plays a key role in keeping the harmony at home."  However he added that communication and conveying the right message is not that easy and said: "It is not talking that holds the key but the trick lies more in listening, apart from gestures, posture, sincerity and making sure the listener feels that the words come from the depth of your heart."


Ronald also offered a few tips for better communication among family members, the simple mantra being, 'Stop, Look and Listen'.  Children do not need a stick but sincere 'I love you' in words and actions from parents can perform miracles.

In answering audience question, Olivera said the parents need to go to the child to communicate and children should be discouraged from watching movies that are rated for adults.

Dr Tara Wyne, a specialist in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Approaches & Psychoanalytic techniques then spoke about the importance of 'Quality Time as a Family'. Dr Tara pointed out that open communication among family members will lead not only to strengthening of relationships but also acquiring responsibilities by all.  "Meaningful time for your spouse will create the right template for children to emulate you in their later life. Children are like sponge; they soak and absorb everything around them. So it is the responsibility of the parents to demonstrate a strong marital bond that can stand the test of time, with an eye on the future of the kids. It is also the duty of the parents to create time to be with the children though this is not always possible during economic hardships," she added.

 Explaining Quality Time, she said: "It is complex. But it needs thoughtfulness, and undivided attention to kids is a must. Research has indicated that children spend most of their time alone while parents and children completely differ on what makes up Quality Time. When the parents are not adequately present in a child's life, the young ones seek help from elsewhere, including peer groups, which may or may not be the right kind of advice."

The presence of parents is necessary for children to gain their trust. Quality Time is what we make of it - it is a special, planned and relaxed get-together of the family.  Concept of Quality Time emerged in the 1970s when both parents were forced to take up outside employment, rather than dedicate themselves for the wellbeing of children at home. As the parents in Dubai face similar challenges, Dr Tara recommended the following:

Rest and relaxation: A time set apart especially for the family to relax and connect with each other.

Being there: Being available for each other even while doing chores together.

Just being together: Proximity builds vocabulary. Shared mealtimes and shared memories can provide great opportunities.

"Asking your children genuine questions and telling them your own personal experiences can give you massive returns. This can help kids develop a sense of belonging as a family," she remarked. The relevance of prayer and the meaning of religion have to be explained by parents to inculcate their children in their faith, she said.

Shared activities can develop a feeling of being valued by family members, and joint tasks with children can develop confidence, in addition to a sense of security. "Kids gain competence and a sense of accomplishment while this is also good learning/teaching tool for passing on values, ethics and morals," she added.

"Kids watch you and your behaviour before taking a decision on how to treat others," she said urging the parents to be on the alert always.

In answering questions Dr Tara also emphasized that it is the parents duty to control or put a time barrier for watching TV.  Parents need to expand the scope of enjoyment for kids - be it outdoor activities, cooking or any indoor hobbies.

Dr Saliha Afridi, an expert in psychological and psycho educational evaluations who offers psychotherapy to kids, adolescents and parents, spoke on 'Anger Management'.   "Anger is a normal human emotion.  You cannot rightfully reject it as bad.  Anger can have negative as well as positive consequences.  Since children do as we do, we as parents have to learn to deal with our own strong emotions first."

Recognise stress, she said, as modern world's fast-paced life results in frenzy and the mind is constantly on the go. "Stress is not bad but it needs the right kind of management as stress and anger go hand in hand. This is why relaxation exercises such as physical workouts or music is required. You need to find out the right panacea for you and use it to decompress yourself."

"Respond instead of react and remain proactive within the family.  Respect your kids as individuals just as you would respect anyone else," she said, "Elders need to express their feelings honestly and responsibly."

On the issue of avoiding physical punishment Dr Saliha said that the word 'discipline' comes from the word 'disciple', which only means a 'follower' or a student - all the more reason not to adopt corporal punishment as a means for teaching the right things to kids.'

"Get help", she said, "Professional help or short term therapy can be good. The money and time spent on such therapy can be termed as sound investment that will give ample returns."

In conclusion Dr Saliha said "Take a look at your life, the frustration and pain and we need to change the way we respond to it, constructively.  It is better to explain to the kids about the 'logical consequences' of their actions rather than meting out punishment."

Questions from the audience were tabulated and presented to the panel by Jennifer Rodrigues.  For a two-year old child who constantly resorts to biting, or hitting,  the panelists suggested getting down to eye-level contact is better for pre-verbal kids as they do not have any other way of expressing their emotions.

On resisting food, Dr Saliha said that parents need to make the kids understand the importance of timely meals by not giving them in-between snacks if they skip a meal. "That way a child will understand the importance of a timely meal," she added.

On the use of profane language by kids, Dr Tara pointed out that parents should make the children realize why such words are bad and how they create unpleasantness around in a group or in a room full of people. "It does not matter where swear words come from, but try to find out why a child is using such words," she emphasized, that it is the responsibility of parents to make the young ones understand that only polite and civilized language can be used to convey the message more effectively.

The first speaker of the second day, Marisa Lobo Biddappa enlightened the gathering on "How to Keep Your Child Safe".  "In the present day society which glorifies violence in movies, on TV and internet, we need to help our children grow into good adults by showering them with love and care that will allow them to have good self-esteem."  In this scenario, she offered three key points that children need to be taught -  i) how to survive, ii) how to learn good values & norms iii) how to become confident.

"The role of a family and parenting assumes enormous significance as the children have to develop skills on their own apart from being helped by the parents," she said. First, plan to have your child, then its life thereafter.  As curiosity could lead the kids to danger, even at home, household objects, medicines, any form of liquid and hazardous material should not be kept within the reach of toddlers.

It is extremely important to know how a child interprets what it watches on the TV and how actions on the small screen impact even adolescents. She emphasized the need for the parents' presence while the offspring watch TV or a movie. Unsupervised or unmonitored while browsing the Internet or watching a programme not meant for kids can be avoided by the presence of a parent, she said.

"Watch a movie or a TV programme together. That will make a huge difference in teaching the difference between reality and the virtual world" said Marisa as she read out the names of some of the violent electronic games which children have to avoid completely.  Parents have to make the children understand the anonymous nature of Internet and the necessity of not offering their personal details to strangers at any times.

Citing research which reports high rate of physical or sexual abuse among girls as well as boys before they reach the age of 18, Marisa urged the parents to trust and listen to their children the very first time, if they mention anything unusual. "Teach the kids to be alert and to raise alarm if they are in danger of any kind of abuse," she said and underlined the need for parents to keep constant communication with their wards at all times.

Whilst bullying amounts to an intention to cause harm which goes well beyond the definition of 'teasing', children should be encouraged to bring such incidents to their parents notice. Even peer pressure can lead children astray.  "Look for tell-tale signs such as the way a child looks withdrawn, wears a dress, tattoo, ring or other special objects. You will know which group or friends circle your child has joined."  On the other hand, "Domestic violence - physical, psychological or sexual - weans children away from home and parents, denying them a sense of belonging.  Hence be consistent in disciplining but set realistic limits and be aware of your child's school activities that will tell you the path he/she is taking" cautioned Marissa.

On a positive note, Marisa urged the parents to safeguard their children's future by regularly saving on their behalf and also by making an official will.

Fr Michael followed with his presentation on "Family Prayer Life" highlighting the importance of two key words - love and understanding. He said that parents need to set aside time for teaching moral and spiritual facts to their children who are bombarded with data from the Internet.  What the children see on the Internet gets into their subconscious mind and makes them addicted to those facts.


Parents need to be careful about their vocabulary in front of their children as the power of words can make or break a child and may lead to emotional or psychological wounds.

"No one can hurt you unless you allow yourself to be hurt.  Similarly, when you are angry, someone else is in control. Prayer is what you need," Fr Michael said and requested the audience to read Luke 11:9 on what constitutes a good prayer.

Reiterating his advice that a "Family that prays together stays together", Fr Michael said that the Morning Prayers including Angelus during the day will strengthen the spiritual foundation of a child. He also stressed the importance of Grace Before Meals by saying "When you bless the food, it is blessed" and "a simple Sign of the Cross itself is enough for those who feel they are pressed for time."

Parents need to be totally receptive in the church and encourage children to watch Biblical movies, guide them to visit the catechism library, in addition to reading the word of God so as to raise them as good Catholics.

Another acclaimed toast-master Royston Fernandes briefed the audience on 'Building Trust and Self-esteem' in the children.  "Marriage is a three-way partnership in which communication, mutual respect and enduring relationship play a critical role," he said, pointing out trust is the primary ingredient in a relationship where sometimes 'omission to mention' key details could lead to breakups.


On self-esteem, he explained "how people value you" could largely depend on whether you are honest, hardworking, dependable and able to face challenges. Speaking further he said life is a constant game of trial and error that gets tested several times and the lessons learnt out of choice can boost one's self-esteem.

"A good relationship needs to be non-judgmental and requires time and effort but it has to begin somewhere and it is better to begin with the children. A child gains confidence and looks to the adults to learn about relationships. Ignoring a child may make the child feel helpless. On the contrary, appreciation boosts a child's confidence and builds self-esteem.

"Parents appreciate the child when it takes the first step and speaks the first few words. But when they grow up and need more appreciation, parents fail to match this expectation. It is good to ask your child about its favourite movie or even the most preferred dish during dinner time. Through gradual and casual conversations, a child can be made to feel comfortable. Parents can even go a step further and involve the children in family decisions without ridiculing their opinions. Such giving of respect earns the parents enormous affection from their children.

Parents were also enlightened to know "boys seek accomplishment while girls give more importance to relationships."  Hence teaching the kids the right value and the right model without ostracizing them for their opinion is important.  Just as being available with undivided attention, it is equally important that parents take time to watch TV together which can make a huge difference to the self esteem of a child.

Parents need to encourage the kids to express their emotions and allow them to pursue their interests or they may go astray to their peers where they may get attention. "How a father treats impacts the self esteem of a child lifelong," he pointed out.

During the panel discussion, audience were informed that details of physical and sexual growth can be gradually explained to children according to their age, whilst the children need to be told the details of separation/divorce decision, if any, even though such separation has to be avoided.

As the concluding event, the Eucharistic celebration reiterated the importance of the word of God in our daily lives and served as a true conclusion to the event.

Compered by Parish Council Secretary Leela D'Souza, the speakers for the sessions were introduced by Rockson Rodrigues on the first day and Hector Poppen on the second day. Parish Council member Maria Gomes gave the vote of thanks and commended all the speakers for their informative sessions.

Approximately 500 parents attended each day's session.  The welcome refreshments served, Courtesy Caesar's Restaurant and Confectionery, were appreciated by the audience most of whom had come directly from their workplace.

While the participants were extremely contended to receive such valuable information through this Seminar, they have expressed the need to have many more sessions for parents on vital topics in parenting.

The Family Ministry along with Parish Council of St. Mary's Church, Dubai indeed deserve great appreciation for their initiative and selfless efforts in organizing such an useful seminar for the parents of the Parish.

Youth Quake 2.0 : The Awakening by the Spirit - 10/23/2009

St Mary's Catholic Church Dubai News Network

Now it can be said: Amazing....Awesome....Great experience !!


With emotions of mixed feelings everyone was touched by the presentations, faith sharing, breakout sessions, music and Eucharistic celebrations during the Youth Quake 2.0 and had only one thing to say: "The Love of Jesus to every one is amazing, awesome and a great experience to share! "


With the theme, Know Jesus, Give Jesus, Live Jesus, the event was conducted in two parts.  For youth aged 14 to 18 years on the 12 September with the participation by 472 delegates and volunteers and the second event was held on 26 September for youth over 18 years which was attended by 200 delegates and volunteers.


The delegates had a beautiful moment knowing Jesus through breakout sessions, faith sharing, music and fellowship.  They took the opportunity to know and experience the 'Man who gave up His life on the Cross' out of His love for us.


It was also an event where the delegates had to give to Jesus their thanksgiving prayers, praise, worship and service.  The delegates also had the chance to witness and share their unique experiences with Jesus with their friends and acquaintances.


It was also an invitation for every youth and young adult to discern on how they can live with Jesus, for Jesus and through Jesus.


The event was jointly inaugurated by Parish Priest Fr. Tomasito Veneracion and Fr. Freddy D'Souza, Spiritual Director of the Youth of the Parish, followed by welcome hymn by the Youth of El Shaddai and the opening prayer by Konkan Yuva. 




The highlights of the event were two general sessions. Relationship and Communication, served as an eye opener for everyone. Nelson Miranda spoke on the subject on the first day and Fr. Arun from Fujairah spoke on the second day.  The second session was conducted by Fr Freddy D'Souza who spoke on The True Meaning of Eucharistic Celebrations, which helped the delegates to understand more the importance of holy mass as an integral part of our catholic faith.


Breakout sessions included Who Moved My Cheese? facilitated by JOC, Romance without Regret (Finding True Love), by the Come Alive Youth Group, Anger Management and Getting Over, Getting Mad by the Catechists, Discovering the Word of God by Bejesh Solomon from Jesus Youth on the first day, and Hilary Deviega from English Charismatic Group.  Weathering the Storm was facilitated by Anthony Permal and Behold Thy Mother and Rediscovering the Mystery of the Holy Rosary by Fr. Michael Cardoz.



The delegates enjoyed very much the musical part of the programme, Praise and Worship led by Jesus Youth Band, special presentations provided by Youth for Christ and FILCOM Youth.



 Thanksgiving mass concluded both days events.


This is the second year of Youth Quake programme.  With the objective to provide premise for our youth and young adults to express their love for Jesus and strengthen their relationship with Him, the organizers are committed to conduct such programmes in the future on a regular basis at the parish level.



The team work behind the scenes was truly remarkable as all the youth groups of the parish joined hands, minds and hearts together under the leadership of Theresa Braga in the successful organization of this two day event with the initiative of the St Mary's Parish Council and the blessings of the Parish Priest (Fr Tomasito) and Spiritual Director (Fr Freddy).   


Feedback from participants as well the parents was very encouraging.  All voiced that the frequency should be increased with longer breakout sessions and wider ranger of topics relating to youth.  Youth also stressed they need more activities to explore their talents.


25 Glorious years in our Lord's Vineyard - 10/25/2009

St Mary's Catholic Church Dubai News Network

To mark the joyous occasion of Fr John Van Deerlin's 25 years as a consecrated priest of the Vicariate of Arabia, 13 priests of various parishes in the Vicariate concelebrated with Bishop Paul Hinder and Fr John, a thanksgiving mass on Saturday 24 October 2009 at St Mary's Church Dubai.   The solemn procession was lead by 25 children in white robes carrying lighted candles, followed by altar servers and the celebrants.





In his introduction at the beginning of the Mass, parish priest Fr Tomasito Veneracion welcomed the congregation and announced the triumph of Fr John Van Deerlin in the service of God for 25 precious years.




In his homily Bishop Hinder reflected on the day's Gospel and also noted that the primary function of a priest is to see Jesus in his own life and then to lead the congregation to open their eyes to the love and mercy of our Saviour. 




Before the final blessing, Fr John Van Deerlin expressed his thanks to the Almighty and to the parish community for their love and prayers and also pointed out that he wanted this day to be a simple remembrance and a humble thanksgiving to God.




Fr John is currently serving the Vicariate as Bishop's delegate for Catholic Schools and specifically as the student counsellor to St Mary's Catholic High School, and is a resident priest at the St Mary's Church Dubai.

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