Sacred Heart Church Bahrain was first established on the Christmas Eve. Its bells rang for the first time on 24 December 1939 at 11PM. It is the first Church to be built in the region. Since then, the church has been blessed with very dedicated shepherds. Sacred Heart has become the first christian community in the year 1938. Bishop Tirinanzi, together with Fr Anselem were the early parishioners.
It was H.H. Shaikh Haman Bin Isa Al Khalifa, then Ruler of Bahrain, who graciously offered a plot of land to build the church. And with the help of Fr Luigi, a capuchin priest, the church was built. It was on June 9th, 1939 that the first foundation stone was laid. On March 3, 1940, the church was formally blessed.
As the church community increased, the parish was gifted with Fr Barnabas Madii in 1943. Then, followed by Fr Anselm from 1947 to 1949. Fr Walter Connolly and Fr Damian Ciacci served the parish in 1949. In 1953, H.E. Louis Magliacani was consecrated as the church’s bishop. Fr Walter Connoly took over as the parish priest from 1950 to 1961. I was also on September 29, 1953 where the Comboni sisters took charge of the Sacred Heart school. Fr Eusebius Daveri became the parish priest in 1961 to 1965. From 1965 to 1979, Fr Eugene Mattioli took charge of the parish and bough a plot of land to enlarge the school. Today, that piece of land is now the multi-purpose hall.
From 1989 to 2004, a radical change took place. Fr Eugene, the parish priest during this time, expanded the school in Manama and obtained a spacious plot in Isa Town from the Amir. Among those many pastors who served in Bahrain, Fr Barth Kestell, an American Capuchin worked tirelessly for almost 18 years. On 1979 to 1987, Fr Adrian Benini succeeded Fr Eugene Mattioli. Then, Fr Eugene came back as the parish priest from 1987 to 1988. On 1988, Bishop Bernard Giovanni Gremoli was appointed as Vicar of Arabia.
Through the Years
2001 – 2013
- Fr Felicio pursued further studies and was succeeded by Fr Thomas Quadros as parish priest from 2004 to 2009.
- In 2006, Fr Thomas celebrated the 14th anniversary of the Parish Bulletin and released the issue with a new masthead and new look. The bulletin was renamed Outreach.
- Fr Eugene Mattioli, former Parish Priest celebrated his Golden Sacerdotal Jubilee and officiated the solemn concelebrated mass on 13 April 2007.
- In 2009, Fr Dinesh Mendonca was appointed Parish Priest until 2010.
- In May 2011, His Majesty King Hamad bin isa Al Khalifa gave an audience to two visiting Bishops – Bishop Camillo Ballin and Bishop Paul Hinder accompanied by Fr Dinesh Mendonca. The Vicariate of Arabia was divided into two: Northern Vicariate of Arabia of which Bishop Camillo Ballin was appointed as the Apostolic Vicar; and Southern Vicariate of Arabia and Bishop Paul Hinder was appointed as the Apostolic Vicar.
- On 24 May 2011, Archbishop Petar Rajic, Holy See Apostolic Pro Nuncio or Vatican Ambassador to the Kingdom of Bahrain presented his credentials to His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.
- Fr Uldarico “Ding” Camus was appointed Parish Priest in June 2001, replacing Fr Dinesh who returned to India.
- In 2012, the altar of the Sacred Heart Church was renovated and was blessed by Bishop Camillo in September 2012.
- Various annual events like Family Day in February, Living Rosary in October Home Away from Home during Christmas and many others were held to foster unity, camaraderie and fellowship among the parishioners.
- In 2013, a new Adoration Chapel was renovated. The church stage was also renovated.
- The 75th Anniversary Jubilee Celebrations will commence on 22 November 2013 with activities to be participated in by the various communities and will culminate in a Dinner Reception at the Diplomat Radisson Blue Hotel on 23 November 2013.
1991 – 2000
- The old convent was demolished and a new one was built. The foundation stone of the new convent was laid on 2 May 1992.It was completed within one year and was blessed by Bishop Gremoli on 6th January 1993.
- Existing church facilities such as the Parish Hall and Parish offices were renovated and refurbished. The audio-visual room was built. The Social Service Unit was also constructed next to the Church to provide service for the needy.
- Existing Prayer Groups were strengthened and new ones were formed – Legion of Mary, Couples for Christ, POSA (Poor of St Anthony). Charismatic Prayer Groups. These groups not only provide parishioners platform for spiritual growth, promote fellowship and unity but also take part in charity work for the needy and the sick.
- Several church ministries were introduced: Eucharistic Ministers, Lectors, Ushers, Altar Servers and Catechists.
- Several Parish Missions were held in different languages. Language community masses were also started – Arabic, Konkani, Tamil, Malayalam and Tagalog.
- The Family Bulletin was published with the maiden issue released during the Pastoral Visit of Bishop Gremoli on 24th April 1992.
- Family Get Together were held annual coinciding with the Christmas celebrations.
- Ecumenical Prayer Service were hosted to show the Church commitment towards Christian Unity.
- On 21st November 1999, the late Amir HH Shaikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa made his first official visit to Rome where he met Pope John Paul II.
- On 15 August 1995, the foundation stone for the Community Centre Building was laid. The Centre was inaugurated by Bishop Gremoli on 15 August 1996.
- The foundation stone for the Third Millennium Building was laid on 31st May 1999. The inauguration of this building took place on 11th May 2000.
- Sis Idangela celebrated her golden anniversary as Comboni Sister.
- The Sacred Heart Church celebrated its Golden Jubilee with great fanfare. His Highness Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa was presented the Diamond Jubilee Souvenir by Fr Felicio along with Monsignor Giuseppe de Andrea and Bishop Bernard Gremoli during an audience in May 2000.
- Bishop Bernard Gremoli was succeeded by Bishop Paul Hinder.
- First women lay ministers were installed in November 2000.
1961 – 1990
- Fr. Eusebius Daveri became Parish Priest from 1961 to 1965, succeeding Fr. Walter Connolly.
- Fr. Eugene Mattioli became Parish Priest from May 1965 to 1979.
- Further expansion was done when a plot of land adjacent to the church complex was purchased to enlarge the school and provide playground.
- A spacious plot of land in Isa Town was donated by the late Amir HH Shaikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa where a modern school was built to relocate the Manama main school.
- Fr. Adrian Benini succeeded Fr Eugene from 1979 to 1987, only to be replaced by Fr Eugene until 1988. After Fr Eugene left, the parish was left without a parish priest for eight months.
- Bishop Bernard Giovannie Gremoli was appointed Vicar of Arabia in 1988.
- Fr. Felicion Dinis was appointed by Bishop Gremoli as the new parish priest in October 1989.
- Church renovations were undertaken and a new main altar was made.
- The Sacred Church celebrated its Golden Jubilee. The Golden Jubilee celebrations were attended by VIPs from the members of the Diplomatic Corps, the Papal Nuncio, leaders of the other congregations and Bishops and Priests from India, Kuwait, and Iraq.
- Seven lay ministers were appointed to take on administrative and other responsibilities in the Church to give more time to the clergy for their spiritual work.
- Due to the significant growth in number of parishioners, a proposal to build another structure, then called the Multi-Purpose Hall was put forward to and approved by Bishop Gremoli.
- The foundation stone of the MPH was laid on 8th September 1990.
1950 – 1960
- Rev. Fr. Luigi Magliacani was appointed Vicar of Arabia.
- Growth and further expansion in the Church was done.
- Comboni sisters arrived in 1953 took charge of the school.
- St Barth’s Hall was built in 1957 – 1958 providing facilities for social gatherings to promote fellowship and unity among the Catholic community. The building also provided residential accommodation for the priests.
1940 – 1949
- The Church Complex had the best buildings in Manama and the new Parish of the Sacred Heart Church, the first of its kind in the Gulf, was established.
- The Convent and the first proper school were built.
- With the rapid growth of the Christian Community, the church was expanded and the belfry was added by Frs. Walter Connolly and Damian Ciacci in 1949.
The foundation stone for the Mother Church was laid on 9th June.