The British Orthodox Church

within the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate

Obituaries

Father Philip Bourke , died 25 January 2005 aged 86 years.

Desmond Henry George Bourke was born in Greenwich, south-east London, on 23 April 1918. His father, Henry George Bourke (who as a Private in the Manchester Regiment had been encamped on Blackheath) died just before the Armistice, so the young Desmond grew up with his mother as an only child. He was educated at Bickley Hall, Kent, and at Malvern College in Worcestershire, where he served in the Officers’ Training Corps. Upon leaving Malvern in 1935 he was employed by Harper & Co., the publishers, working initially on Harper’s Wine & Spirit Gazette before becoming editor of Coal & Colliery News.

He was on holiday in Ilfracombe when war was declared in September 1939 and he volunteered for the London Irish Regiment, but as he was considered insufficiently Irish or London (he was then living at Ashford in Middlesex) he entered the Pay Corps. Because of his schooling he was soon offered a commission and was transferred to the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, transferring to Kidderminster for six months basic training. It was here he met his future wife, Annice Barlow. Posted to Avadi, near Madras in British India, where they were irreverently known as the ‘Calcutta Home Guard’ he served first as a mortar instructor but was shortly afterwards commissioned in the India Army Ordinance Corps. He was later to serve in Iraq, Palestine and Egypt and was profoundly moved by the awareness of walking on holy ground when he visited sites familiar from the Holy Bible.

Although he lightly spoke of his wartime experiences, in reality he regularly confronted considerable danger when blowing up ammunition captured from the enemy. As Officer Commanding Forward Maintenance it also fell to him to detonate captured mines. Having little faith in mechanical detonators he preferred to stack the mines in a square, lay yards and yards of fuse wire, which he lit punctually at noon before jumping into his jeep and driving furiously for two and a half minutes. At Tobruk he was faced with the discovery of huge quantities of captured and abandoned Italian arms which he dumped in the Mediterranean or, for those that were too dangerous and leaking glycerine blew them up in the caves facing out to sea. Appointed Deputy Assistant Director of the Ordinance Service with the temporary rank of major he knew that his promotion would be substantive if it lasted nine months. However, after exactly eight months and 29 days he was sent on leave and returned to the Indian Army ! When the war ended in 1945 he served for a further six months in Tobruk before returning to civilian life.

On 20 March 1948 he married Annice Barlow and they settled at West Grove on Blackeath. He worked for Hayward Brothers, wine merchants, during which time he became a Freeman of the City of London and a member of the Vintners’ Company. He later joined the civil service, working initially in the Ministry of Technology before transferring to the British Museum Library in 1966, where he worked in the Patent Office and the Manuscript Department.

As his mother was a Methodist, Desmond was originally brought up in that tradition but at school he worshipped with the Anglicans, although he wasn’t confirmed. He was also active in the Crusaders’ Union , a scripture reading society run by the Brethren and before the war served as a Sunday School teacher and a licensed preacher with the Methodists. Whilst in the army he was active in the Army Scripture Readers’ Association. When he was in Cape Town , en route for India , he attended the Brethren Assembly and received Believer’s Baptism in 1941 One of his treasured possessions was their Letter of Commendation to other Assemblies which was written in the style of a New Testament Epistle. In India he encountered the Christians of St. Thomas as well as non-Christian faiths, which he studied with interest.

In December 1972 the Orthodox Parish of St. Peter & St. Paul was established at the Friends’ Meeting House in Blackheath Village and sometime in 1976 Desmond began attending regularly, although it was not until 1978 that he was formally received into Orthodoxy. He was admitted to minor orders that same year and on 8 October 1978 was ordained deacon at the hands of Abba Seraphim, taking the name of Philip. Promoted to Protodeacon on 12 August 1979 it was intended that he should continue to serve as a permanent deacon but the shortage of available priests and the urgent necessity for Abba Seraphim to travel more extensively, threatened the regularity of eucharistic services at Blackheath and precipitated his ordination as priest on 4 November 1979 to serve the Blackheath Parish. On 3 August 1980 he was advanced to the rank of Protopresbyter.

For the next decade Father Philip, supported by Protodeacon Thomas Capp, faithfully maintained the weekly services at Blackheath although the congregation was always small and showed little signs of growth. In May 1989 services were moved to St. Thomas’ Parish Church at Charlton and the patronage changed to reflect this change. Despite increasing health problems, Father Philip, with support from visiting clergy, continued to maintain regular weekly services. However, the death of Protodeacon Thomas in October 1991, the long illness of Archdeacon James Goddard and a serious surgical operation in November 1992 during which he suffered a heart attack, obliged him to resign as parish priest on his seventy-fifth birthday in April 1993. Shortly afterwards the services at Charlton were changed from weekly to bi-monthly and then monthly. Father Philip was elevated to the order of Hegoumenos on 25 July 1994. He served as a General Trustee of the Church from 1980-1999.

Despite his Celtic ancestry, Father Philip was quintessentially an English gentleman. He was proud of having been born on St. George’s day but his patriotism took the form of quiet service and devotion to duty which he demonstrated in his priestly ministry. Well read on many and varied subjects, he never flaunted his knowledge. As ill health restricted his activities he demonstrated a calm acceptance of his condition, showing a simple trust in Divine Providence to the end.

Ermest Cook , died at Doncaster on 3 April 2005 , aged 58 years.

Ernest was one of three sons of Ernest and Greta Cook, born at Rawmarsh, near Rotherham , South Yorkshire , on 30 September 1946 . He grew up in nearby Kimberworth, and was a prefect at his local school where he excelled at sporting activities, especially cricket, football and swimming. He was brought up in the Anglican Church, in which he was confirmed, and served as a member of the choir at St. Thomas ’ Parish Church .

After leaving school he served a four-year apprenticeship in catering at Sheffield ’s Royal Victoria Hotel and went on to spend the greater part of his working career in the catering and service industries in supervisory and managerial positions. In August 1967 at Holy Trinity, Wentworth he married Halina, whom he had met the previous year whilst working in Sheffield and they subsequently emigrated to Cape Town in South Africa , where their only child, Simon, was born in 1970. The marriage went through difficult times and they divorced, Halina and Colin returning to England . Ernest returned in 1997 and, following a reconciliation, they remarried in 1999, establishing their home at Dunscroft in Doncaster .

Halina Cook had been received into the Orthodox Church in 1997 and Ernest now began attending, finally being baptised and chrismated at Cusworth on 25 April 2004 . Tragically, in the same year Ernest was diagnosed with lung cancer but he was determined to live life to the full and maintained his good humour throughout and persevered to the end. He bravely volunteered for new treatments with the view that even if they failed to help him, his experience might be of benefit to future cancer sufferers. He died fortified with the rites of the Orthodox Church and was buried in the Orthodox cemetery at Rosehill. Memory Eternal !

His Eminence Markose Mor Koorilos , Metropolitan of Niranam and Trivandrum of the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church died on 30 May 2005 aged 59 years.

The late Metropolitan was born in the Ramanthara family of Nattassery, Kottayam on 6 October1946. He completed his B.A Degree from C.M.S College , Kottayam and G.S.T from M.D.Seminary, Kottayam. The late Mor Gregorios Geevarghese ordained him Priest. He served as the vicar of the churches in Kurichy, Pangada , Bahrain , Roorkela and Bhilai. He was also the Head of the Department of Syriac at the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Theological Seminary, Mulanthuruthy and Chief Editor of the Journal of the Kottayam Diocese. He was ordained Ramban on 6 August 2000 at the St. George Simhasana Church, Perumpally. On 14 January 2001 , H.H the Patriarch of Antioch and all the East Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas ordained him Metropolitan by name Mor Koorilos, at the Patriarchal Cathedral in Ma’arat Saydnaya, Damascus , Syria .

The Jacobite Syrian Christian Association meeting held at Puthencuriz on 6 July 2002 , which approved the present constitution of the Church was convened and presided by Mor Kurillos. It was this historic association which elected the present head of the Indian Church Aboon Mor Baselios Thomas I, as the Catholicos and Metropolitan Trustee. Most of the young priests of the Malankara Church are students of the late Metropolitan. H.E. has also served as the Metropolitan of Kollam and Thumpamon dioceses for almost two years from 2001 to 2003. The funeral of Mor Koorilos was held at the church at Pangada where he served for many years with the Catholicos Mor Baselios Thomas I presiding.

Dr. Sabry Gabriel, died in London on 12 June 2005 aged 77 years.

Dr. Gabriel was a highly respected and greatly loved member of the Coptic community in London . Born in Cairo in 1928, he graduated from the Faculty of Medicine, Cairo University in 1952 and then went on to obtain a Diploma in General Surgery and a Diploma in Urology, both from Cairo University . After working for a few years in the Department of Health Hospitals in Egypt , he travelled to the United Kingdom where he studied and gained the Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and also the Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons of the Republic of Ireland . During that time, he worked in several UK hospitals before returning to Egypt . In 1971 he accepted the post of senior Surgeon at Maiduguri ‘s General Hospital , in Nigeria ’s North East State . He settled in England in 1974 and after a number of appointments became a consultant surgeon in the Accident and Emergency Department at Whipps Cross Teaching Hospital, where he remained until retirement.

Dr. Gabriel was a member of St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Church Council in London and lately became its Chairman. He was also a Vice Chairman of the Archangel Michael and Saint Anthony Church Council of Stevenage. He greatly encouraged the establishment of new Coptic Churches throughout the UK . He was a founder member of the UK Coptic Medical Society three years ago, serving first as Chairman and then as President of the society.

He remained an active member of the Coptic Community long after his retirement and was notable for his old-fashioned courtesy and kindness. Memory Eternal !




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