ASIA/BAHRAIN - A gift for everyone. The Sacred Heart Catholic School in Manama celebrates its 75th anniversary

Monday, 11 December 2023 local churches   school   education   education  

by Antonella Prenna
Manama (Agenzia Fides) - At the beginning of the day everyone, young and old, sang the Bahraini national anthem together, as befits major occasions. And the occasion is really a reason to celebrate: Today, Monday, December 11th, the Catholic “Sacred Heart School” in Manama, in the Kingdom of Bahrain, is celebrating its 75th anniversary. An "anniversary" celebrated with dances and prayers by the 1,400 students aged 4 to 16 who currently attend the school's various classes and was also attended by illustrious guests such as the Minister of Education, Mohammad Bin Mubarak Jumae, and the Apostolic Nuncio to Bahrain, Archbishop Eugene Martin Nugent.

At the service of everyone

The 75th anniversary of the Sacred Heart School (SHS) is an important sign of the Christian presence in this country, a sign that also receives unanimous support from the majority of the population who are not Christians and from the national authorities. "In addition to some members of the royal family," said the Vicar Apostolic of Northern Arabia, Bishop Aldo Berardi, who presided over the celebrations, "several personalities of the country have attended this school, including doctors, engineers, lawyers and businessmen, who continue to value and appreciate the value of the education that the school gave them and offers to today's students. There are long waiting lists because there are so many applications."

Since March 2023, Bishop Berardi has also been director of the “Sacred Heart School”, which has the motto “Caritas et Veritas”. The school is open to all nationalities and the country's various religious communities. As part of an agreement with the Bahraini Ministry of Education, 20 percent of students are currently of Bahraini nationality. “It is the second largest school in the Apostolic Vicariate of Northern Arabia, with 60% Catholic students, 26% Muslims and a small percentage of Hindus and Buddhists,” explains Sister Roselyn, one of the five religious sisters of Apostolic Carmel who run the school together with the teachers, to Fides. “Our students,” adds Sister Roselyn, who is also the principal of the institute, “have 28 different nationalities, and it is precisely through their diversity that they manage to form a united community.” “In our school,” continues the nun, "we teach the Catholic religion and we work well with families who belong to other religions. A good education is fundamental to the future of the students. And their future is also ours."

The sisters live on the grounds of the Sacred Heart Parish in Manama, the only Catholic parish in the entire country alongside the parish of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Arabia in Awali. In the two churches, services are celebrated in different rites, coordinating space and pastoral programs, reflecting the plural face of the local Catholic community, made up of immigrants from different countries and ecclesiastical traditions. The sisters are pleased with the support and appreciation they receive from local authorities.

The school also reflects the “unity in diversity” that characterizes the Bahraini church community. In this sense, the Sacred Heart School is a vibrant and diverse community in which students, teachers, staff and former students from different backgrounds and cultures live together. Throughout the year, teachers and students organize events and activities to promote multiculturalism and social responsibility.

Gratitude and recognition

The gratitude and recognition that the Sacred Heart School enjoys today is the result of a long and not self-evident history of commitment to educational work for the benefit of all.

The Sacred Heart School was founded in 1948 by the Capuchin missionary Barnabas Maddii with the support of the Anglo-Indian Martyn, who was the first headmistress to launch the first classes together with a group of teachers. Over the years, the number of applications for admission to the institute increased. In 1952, Bishop Luigi Magliacani, then Vicar Apostolic of Arabia - who was arrested by the British during the Second World War and deported to India (see Fides, 5/11/2022) - asked the Superior General of the Comboni Sisters, Sister Carla Trozeni, to run the school together with other sisters. After several changes and hard work, the Institute is now run with the same dedication by the Sisters of the Apostolic Community of Carmel.

The anniversary celebrations will begin tomorrow, December 12th, with a thanksgiving mass which will be held in the Parish of Manama. (Agenzia Fides, 11/12/2023)