The Diocese of Beheira has celebrated 46 years on its establishment and the seating of Anba Pachomius as Metropolitan of Beheira, Matrouh, and Pentopolis. The parish is one of the most widespread in Egypt; it covers Egypt’s northwest territory and extends into Libya.
Holy Mass was held at the church of St Mark in Damanhour, Beheira. A large congregation attended, as well as priests, deacons, ministers, and representatives of the Coptic Orthodox Melli (Laity) Council. Among the clergy attending were Fr Antonius Aziz, General Secretary of the Metropolis, and Fr Theophilus Nessim, who also supervised the celebration.
After Holy Mass, Anba Pachomius delivered his speech, “On this blessed day, we celebrate the anniversary of establishing the Metropolis of Beheira and the anniversary of my humble self’s seating as its bishop. We thank the Lord and all who serve Him.”
“The actual date is 12 December 1971, but we decided to celebrate the occasion today, Saturday 9 December, so that all the loved ones who would like to share our joy would be able to be here with us.”
Anba Pachomius spoke of Beheira diocese and how it grew throughout its 46 years. “We began with very few churches and priests, and a very poor parish, to the point where I was advised by one of the parish elders not to ordain priests because there were not enough resources. Now, by the grace of God, the number of priests has multiplied eight times, as has the number of churches. In the sparsely populated desert areas where congregations are small and widely separated, we have 22 churches served by 50 priests.”
He then talked about the Monastery of Anba Makarius al-Sakandarri (St Macarius of Alexandria) which goes back to the early Christian centuries and which was discovered in the desert area of Gabal al-Qalali. Today, Anba Pachomius said, it has been cleaned up and restored, and is a working monastery. He also spoke of the modern Church institutions in Beheira, among them the local Clerical College, Theological Institute, and the Institute of Coptic Melodies.
He closed his speech by thanking all present, and expressing his gratitude to President Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi, and local officials and security men. He wished Pope Tawadros, who had served as general bishop under Anba Pachomius in Beheira before he was elected patriarch of the Coptic Church, a speedy recovery from the spinal surgery he underwent in Germany, praying to the Lord for him to come back home safely.
Anba Pachomius was born Samir Khair Sokkar on 17 December 1935 in the mid-Delta town of Shebin al-Kom. He took orders on 11 September 1962, and was later ordained a priest by Pope Kyrillos VI (Patriarch from 1959 to 1971, and today canonised). In December 1971, Pope Shenouda III consecrated him Bishop, then promoted him to Metropolitan on 2 September 1990.
In March 2012 Pope Shenouda passed away, and Anba Pachomius took over as Locom Tenens (Acting Patriarch) till Pope Tawadors II, his General Bishop and disciple, was enthroned the 118th Patriarch of Alexandria on 18 November 2012.