More than 1,000 people attended celebrations surrounding the inauguration of a new Catholic Church in Oman last weekend, Agenzia Fides reports.

Located in the southern city of Salalah, construction of the 600 seat church, which is dedicated to St Francis Xavier, was completed in just 18 months.

The Catholic news agency reports that among guests at a civil celebration last Saturday were Archbishop Francisco Montecillo Padilla, Apostolic Nuncio in Yemen, Kuwait, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates and Qatar, Bishop Paul Hinder, Vicar Apostolic of Southern Arabia, and Dr Ahmed Khamis Masood al Bahri, director of the Ministry of Religious Endowments and Religious Affairs of Oman.

Archbishop Montecillo Padilla thanked Oman's sultan, Qaboos bin Said al Said, for granting permits for the construction of the church, noting that Oman enjoys peace because of its commitments taken to preserve religious tolerance.

The archbiship invited those present to see the new church as a sign "that God always walks beside us in good and bad times, even if our prayers are not fulfilled immediately", according to Fides.

The civil ceremony was followed with a service on Sunday night.

About 60,000 Catholics reside in Oman which currently has five parishes including two in Salalah. The new church will reportly servce a community of foreign workers.