Tasoni Effa Garas, died in Cairo on 5 February 2016, in her 97th year.

Miss Effa Boules Garas was born on 28 November 1919 in Nagada, Egypt. She was the eldest of three children in a devout Coptic Orthodox family. In the 1940s, they moved to Cairo where they lived in Shoubra. As a young steward at St Antonios’ Church, Shoubra, she came under the influence of Nazeer Gayed, who was later to become Father Antonios, then Bishop Shenouda and later Pope Shenouda III. His ministry had a profound influence on her life and she retained a keen recollection of those early days until the end of her life. In the 1950s, the family built a 4-storey house in Heliopolis where the two sisters Effa and Adiba, and their younger brother Ezzat, started to serve at St. George Church, Heliopolis. Effa was responsible for spiritual ministry and education; Adiba was a musician who composed and played many church songs; while Ezzat was responsible for Sunday School Preparatory phase for children. In June 1981, Pope Shenouda revived the long-neglected ministry of deaconesses in the Coptic church by consecrating 27 deaconesses to serve in the churches of Cairo. Five of the consecrated were virgins, amongst whom were Effa and Adiba. This first group of deaconesses were followed by hundreds being consecrated throughout different dioceses. After the death of their brother, Effa and Adiba donated their parents’ home to the church,

keeping the ground floor flat for their accommodation. The second floor was transformed into a Coptic students’ hostel under the oversight of Metropolitan Bishoy and the nuns of St Demiana’s convent.

Miss Effa” as she was affectionately known, became a good friend of the British Orthodox Church and on his many trips to Cairo Abba Seraphim always paid a visit to the house in Heliopolis, to which many members of the British Orthodox Church also became frequent visitors. Well

into her ninth decade Miss Effa would entertain them with her rendering of traditional Coptic chants on the piano. Although frail with her advanced years, she remained mentally alert and her conversation was always spiritually edifying. Successive young Coptic female students who shared her house delighted in meeting her and shared great love and respect for her selfless concern for others. She was not ill, but on Sunday, 31 January, at noon, her disciple Tasoni Helena watched her staring into the air. When she asked her what was happening, Miss Effa said she was seeing angels and monks. On Sunday night, she asked that she be anointed by the blessed oil of the Virgin Mary which Tasoni did. The following days she stopped eating and talking. For a couple of days, the doctors tried to revive her, but she peacefully slipped away to be with the Saviour she loved and to rejoin all those from earlier generations, with whom she had shared her service and devotion to the Church. Abba Seraphim spoke of her faith and unfailing commitment to service and of the precious memory of times spent with her.

Memory Eternal !

His Eminence Metropolitan Kyrillos of Milan, Papal Deputy for Europe,  died on 14 August 1917, aged 65 years.

Halim Nashed Athanasius was born in Sohag in Upper Egypt on 15 October 1952. He studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Minya, from which he graduated in 1977.  Born in a devout Coptic family (where his brother also became a monk and was consecrated to the episcopate), he undertook voluntary service for the church in Minya Province and came under the influence of Metropolitan Arsanius of Minya, who used him for ministry to the Youth.  In 1979 he entered the monastery of the Holy Virgin, al Baramous, in the Wadi El Natrun, which was founded by St. Macarius the Great in around 335. He made his monastic profession as Kyrillos el-Baramousi. He was ordained as a priest in February 1980 and in June 1986 he was consecrated as a General Bishop by the late Pope Shenouda III to assist in Minya diocese. In 1990 he was transferred to Milan to supervise the Coptic community there and the new monastery of St. Shenouda the Archimandrite at Mettone, outside Milan. In June 1990 he was enthroned as Bishop of Milan, at which Abba Seraphim assisted and established friendly relations between the British Orthodox Church and the Diocese of Milan. Following the death of Pope Shenouda, Bishop Kyrillos was nominated as a papal candidate, but withdrew before the election. One of the first appointments made by H.H. Pope Tawadros II following his enthronement as Pope & Patriarch of Alexandria was, on 28 December 2012, to appoint Bishop Kyrillos to the newly created position of Papal Deputy for Europe. Following that, relations between the British Orthodox Church and the Milan diocese became stronger and there were frequent exchanges of clergy, culminating in the visit to London of Bishop Kyrillos in July 2014 for the service of Thanksgiving for twenty years of union with the Patriarchate. On 28 February 2016 Bishop Kyrillos was ordained a Metropolitan.

Abba Seraphim spoke movingly of the kindness and goodness of Abba Kyrillos, which endeared him to everyone. “His simple monastic spirit and gentle love for all those he encountered were his chief characteristics.  The respect and affection in which he was held extended well beyond his own community, where his own flock greatly loved him. He was revered throughout the Coptic Church worldwide, but also with Christians of all traditions, who responded to his humble courtesy and open-hearted generosity with great readiness. He was a true friend of the British Orthodox and prayers for his repose will be held in all our churches for the next 40 days.

Metropolitan Kyrillos: Memory Eternal !   

Douglas Geoffrey Rowell, retired Anglican Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe, died on 11 June 2017, at the age of 74.

He was born on 13 February 1943 at Alton in Hampshire. His father was an engineer and his mother was a schoolteacher. In 1956 he gained a Hampshire County Council bursary place at Winchester College, where he won prizes in divinity and history, before going on to study theology at Corpus Christi College, Cam­bridge, under Norman Sykes and Owen Chadwick.  Inspired to seek ordination he went to Cuddesdon when Robert Runcie’s was the Principal. He received a Philip Usher scholar­ship enabling  him to spend a year travelling and living among Orthodox Christians. This was to include not just the Byzantine, but also the Oriental Orthodox churches and led him to visit the Syriac communities in Turkey and Armenia. A later three-month stay at the Coptic monastery of St. Macarius in Egypt left him with a deep affection for Coptic Christianity and monasticism, although he did not follow the monastic path himself.

Following ordination as deacon and priest in 1968-69, he served as Assistant Chaplain at New College, Oxford, which set the tone of his future ministry, which was to be in academia rather than parochial. In 1972 he became Chaplain, Fellow, and Tutor in Theology at Keble College, a position he was to occupy for the next 22 years. During this time he established many friendships and showed a deeply pastoral ministry as well as supporting Oxford’s rich Tractarian tradition by serving as chairman of the governors of the ecumenical House of St Gregory and St Macrina, and later of both Pusey House and of St Stephen’s House. In collaborated with Bishop Rowan Williams and the former Catholic Apostolic, Bishop Kenneth Stevenson, he was responsible for the 2001 compilation of “Loves Redeeming Work; The Anglican Quest for Holiness”, an anthology of traditional Anglican spirituality.

He also sat on many of many committees and commissions, both local and international, for dialogue with the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches, where his courtesy and friendliness was much appreciated. As an academic he always made good use of the long summer vacations to travel to exotic destinations, not always to Christian shrines and he sustained these links as a bishop.

He was consecrated as the Suffragan Bishop of Basingstoke, in Winchester diocese, in 1994, and in 2001 was translated to the See of Gibraltar in Europe. Abba Seraphim was present at St. Margaret’s, Westminster, on 18 October 2001, when he was formally commissioned as Bishop of Gibraltar by Archbishop Rowan Williams. He retired in November 2013, after which he served as an Assistant Bishop in the dioceses of Chichester and Portsmouth.

Memory Eternal !

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