O Arabia Felix!
Due to the delicate political situation, I have to be careful about the details I provide here. I spoke at a conference for those involved in catechesis and teaching. If such a meeting was held in England, you'd be lucky to get 100, but in the Gulf over 600 people attended the three day event. The atmosphere was electric - especially when, at the beginning of the conference, representatives from each community brought flags to the front of the hall (and I say 'community' since not all of them have access to a church).
One of the other speakers at the conference was Dr Petroc Willey, EWTN presenter and Deputy-Director of the amazing Maryvale Institute (which deserves to be better known). It was great to get to know him and help him celebrate his birthday last weekend. The Vicariate of Arabia uses the Echoes programme and some catechists are working for the Maryvale Certificate in Catechesis (MCC). Petroc also edits The Sower, which I've just subscribed to - I know of no other catechetical resource that is so reliable, well-produced and full of practical points. I recommend it to all priests, catechists and parishes!
On Tuesday night I did some work with the Abu Dhabi Young Adults Group. We reflected on the theme of vocation together and then went out to enjoy the nightime treat of Moroccan Tea and sheesha by the sea! Hmmm, I must do that with my parish's young adults group. One thing that came across from our conversation was that the biggest threat to the Faith out there is not so much fundamentalism but the increasingly materialist outlook of society, especially in places like Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The UK and UAE are perhaps not that dissimilar!
A few more posts and pictures to follow, especially when I get back to the parish at the weekend...