The Coptic Orthodox Church has announced that Anba Fam, Bishop of Tema and its Environs, passed away last night in a London hospital. Tema is part of the southern governorate of Sohag, some 460km south of Cairo.
Church bells in Tema tolled incessantly to the sad news. Men and women rushed to the bishopric, hoping to hear that his death was only a rumour, only to be tearfully informed that the news was true. Anba Fam had been bishop of Tema for 38 years, and was dearly loved by the congregation who saw in him a living saint.
At the church of the Holy Virgin and St Anba Abra’am in Brighton, Holy Mass was held today in honour of the departure of Anba Fam. His body will be flown to Egypt for burial, where a funeral service will be held for him.
Tema diocese should be placed under the care of Anba Bakhoum, Bishop of Sohag, according to a decision by Pope Tawadros.
In an official statement, Pope Tawadros II mourned Anba Fam who, the Pope said, had spent more than 40 years in monastic tradition, during which time he faithfully served the Lord and His Church. For the larger part of these 40 years, the Pope said, Anba Fam was Bishop of Tema which he received as a newly founded diocese but developed into a thriving one. His life and service were dominated with fervent prayer and praise, and contemplation of God’s wondrous work. This capacity of angelic praise, Pope Tawadros said, had a profound influence on all who dealt with him. He was a fine model of prayerful humbleness, the Pope said. “We bid him good-bye in hope of Resurrection; may Christ comfort all the beloved congregation of Tema, his blessed family, and who loved him,” the Pope concluded.
Anba Fam was born Tobia Ishaq Kheir in 1945 in the town of Akhmim, Sohag. In 1967, he gained a degree in mining engineering from Assiut University. Preferring a life of monasticism, however, he took orders in 1967 under the name Mina al-Anba Bishoi. In 1979 he was ordained a priest, and in 1980 was consecrated Bishop of Tema.