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
To mark the Coptic Feast of Nayrouz and the start of the new Coptic Year 1729, the service of Offering of Evening Incense was held at St. Margaret’s Westminster on 30 October. Presided over by Bishop Angaelos, assisted by Abba Seraphim, it was also attended by priests from the Coptic Orthodox, British Orthodox, Eritrean Orthodox, Indian Orthodox and Syrian Orthodox Churches. Representing the Byzantine family of Orthodox Church were Archbishop Gregorios of Thyateira, Archimandrite Deiniol (Ukrainian Orthodox – Ecumenical Patriarchate)and Father Joseph Skinner (director of Inter Orthodox Relations – Russian Orthodox Diocese of Sourozh). The Catholic Church was represented by Bishop Alan Hopes, Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster, and Father Robert Byrne, National Ecumenical Officer. The Anglican Church was represented by the Bishop of Southwark (Right Rev’d Christopher Chessun), the Right Rev’d John Stroyan (Suffragan Bishop of Warwick) and Right Rev’d David Hamid (Suffragan Bishop of Europe). Before the service commenced Canon Jonathan Goodall, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Personal Chaplain & Ecumenical Secretary, read a message from the Archbishop, who is currently in New Zealand and everyone present was welcomed by Canon Andrew Tremlett, Rector of St. Margaret’s.
At the end of the service the Right Hon. Alistair Burt, M.P., Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs and the Right Hon. John Bercow, M.P. Speaker of the House of Commons, both gave short addresses welcoming the celebration and speaking of the increasingly significant contribution made in the UK by the Coptic community. A drinks reception concluded the evening.
We were very happy to hear the news of the marriage of Tina Hammond of the British Orthodox Chatham parish with Youhanna Said Hakim Georgious of Luxor. This took place on 31 July at St. Antony & St. Paul Coptic Orthodox Church in Luxor and was performed by Abouna Gladious Gerges and Abouna Bolis in the presence of a congregation of more than a thousand people. The wedding had originally been planned for last year, but the sad death of Youhanna’s mother in August 2011 resulted in a year’s delay until the periods of mourning had been accomplished.
Tina will continue to share her time between Luxor and Kent, from where she runs her travel company. Abba Seraphim and Father Peter Farrington with her many friends in the British Orthodox congregations at Chatham, Charlton, the London Mission and the South Coast parishes all send their warmest greetings to Tina and Youhanna and look forward to welcoming him to England.
- 12 December 2013
- Evening Prayer & Discussion: Shadwell7.30pm Evening Prayer
7.45pm Talk and discussion
- 14 December 2013
- Morning Incense & Divine Liturgy: PortsmouthMorning Incense & Divine Liturgy 10am
- 15 December 2013
- Morning Prayer: BournemouthMorning Prayer: 9.30am
- Raising of Incense & Divine Liturgy: DoncasterRaising of Incense – 9:45am
Divine Liturgy – 10:30am
- Southampton: Morning PrayerMorning Prayer (10.00) (Holy Trinity Church)