Abba Seraphim will be in Cairo from 14-20 June attending the annual plenary session of the Holy Synod. In previous years this was always held on the Eve of Pentecost, but His Holiness Pope Tawadros has moved it forward to enable bishops to celebrate the Pentecost Feast in their own churches. The Synodal sub-committees will be held 24-26 June and the plenary session will meet on 27 June.
The new series of the BOC London Mission Study Evenings at Shadwell will be on the theme of “Understanding the Liturgy” and will be led by Abba Seraphim. They will focus on the Liturgies of St. James as used in the British Orthodox Church and St. Basil, as used in the Coptic Orthodox Church. Apart from improving understanding of liturgical worship, they will focus on the symbolism of certain liturgical actions and will make comparisons between the two ancient rites. The first session will be on 18 April and deals with ‘The Enarxis or Preparation'; this will be followed on 16 May with ‘Processions & Entrances’ and the series will conclude on 13 June with ‘Fraction & Consecration’.
All Study Sessions begin with a short Evening Prayer at 7.,30 p.m. followed by the Study Session between 7.45 – 9.00 p.m. when light refreshments are served.
At a meeting of the Holy Synod in Cairo on 22 November, the Holy Synod elected a new General Secretary to replace the outgoing secretary, His Eminence Metropolitan Bishoy. Their choice fell on Bishop Raphael, who had been one of the three candidates whose names had been submitted for the Sacred Lot and who has served as General Bishop for Central Cairo. He will be supported by three assistant secretaries, Bishop Thomas of El Qussiya, Bishop Youssef of Florida & the South of USA and Bishop Apollo of South Sinai, the last being nominated by His Holiness Pope Tawadros.
Abba Seraphim, who returned to London after the papal enthronement, had sent his apologies for not attending the Synod, but stated that he believed the bishops had reflected the wider opinion of the Coptic community and that the choice had fallen on able and talented men.
Abba Seraphim flew into Cairo just after midnight on 17 November. Providentially he was on the same flight as Their Graces Bishop Missael and Angaelos, so upon arrival at Cairo airport his passage through the usual formalities was expedited. From his base at the Sonesta Hotel, Bishop Angaelos was the member of the Holy Synod charged with organising the greeting of ecumenical guests and their transport to the hotel, all undertaken with seamless efficiency. Abba Seraphim was met by his hosts Mamdouh Abdou and Soheir, known affectionately by Abba Seraphim as ‘Om Shenouda’. Their son, Shenouda Mamdouh, the Egyptian Secretary to the British Orthodox Church was actually still in London on business.
After resting overnight, later that morning, Abba Seraphim met with Father Abraham Thomas, secretary of the Department of Ecumenical Relations of the Indian Orthodox Church as well as a number of other church leaders and ecumenical guests staying in Cairo. In the late afternoon he attended the arrival of His Holiness Pope Tawadros II at the Papal Residence in Anba Rueiss, where he prayed the Thanksgiving Prayer and offered incense in the Chapel of the Residence before receiving the greetings of the bishops and staff. In the evening Abba Seraphim attended a private dinner hosted by His Holiness the Catholicos of the East, Mar Basilius MarThoma Paulose II, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Giza.
Early on Sunday morning, 18 November, the Holy Synod gathered at the Papal Residence for the formal enthronement ceremonies. To the sound of drums and trumpets, the procession, led by chanting deacons, the bishops and metropolitans – fully vested in their Eucharistic robes – led their new Pope into the Cathedral of St. Mark. Attended on one side by the magnificent figure of Metropolitan Pachomius, the locum tenens, and on the other by Bishop Sarabamoun, Abbot of the Monastery of St. Bishoy, the Pope was met at the shut west door of the Cathedral. Here the Archdeacon surrendered the great key to the Pope, who unlocked the doors so that the procession could pass into the packed cathedral. The Liturgy was already in progress, as the consecration of bishops and enthronement of Patriarchs takes place after the Pauline Epistle. Pope Tawadros, dressed only in a plain black cassock, sat alone on a dais in the midst of the khorus as the prayers were led by Metropolitan Pachomios with the participation of all the bishops. The new papal vestments were blessed by all the members of the Holy Synod as well as the Ethiopian and Armenian bishops present. As the Pope received his crown from the hands of Metropolitan Pachomius, and was installed on the Throne of St. Mark, the congregation broke into spontaneous and prolonged applause.
As each bishop greeted the new Pope on his throne during the chanting of Axios, H.H. Mor Ignatius Zakka Iwas, Patriarch of Antioch, and the accompanying Syriac Orthodox bishops, chanted hymns and prayers of blessing and the Pope descended from his throne to embrace his frail brother Patriarch, who is now confined to a wheelchair The Liturgy continued in its normal order, the whole service lasting about six hours. It was followed by a celebratory banquet in the crypt of the cathedral.
Source: Saint George and Saint Shenouda