For the third year in succession, the Oriental Orthodox Family of Churches in Cairo celebrated together Holy Mass. This year Mass was held on Saturday 20 January at the Syrian Orthodox church of Holy Virgin in Ghamra, central Cairo. Participating were the Coptic, Syrian, Armenian, Ethiopian, and Eritrean Orthodox Churches.
Anba Raphail, General-Bishop of Downtown Cairo Churches and Secretary-General of the Coptic Orthodox Holy Synod, officiated, together with Mar-Timotheos Matta al-Khoury, Patriarchal Vicar for the Patriarchal Archdiocese of Damascus; Metropolitan Ashoud of the Armenian Orthodox in Egypt and Sudan and All Africa; Fr Gebro as representative of Eritrean Church; and Fr Avraam the Ethiopian.
Girgis Saleh, Secretary-General of the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC), told Watani that the first joint Mass was held in the Coptic Orthodox Church at the retreat farm of the Anafora off the Cairo Alexandria desert highway, and the second, last year’s, was held at the Armenian Church in Cairo. “It has become an annual tradition among the Orthodox Churches,” Mr Saleh noted. Before that, he said, joint activity among the Orthodox Churches in Cairo were confined to services of hymns and praise.
The liturgical prayers and readings were recited in all the languages of the Churches participating: Arabic, Syrian, Coptic and Armenian, and the deacons participating in Mass were selected to represent all the Churches of Oriental Orthodox family. A large congregation filled the church.
The participating representatives of each Church delivered messages from their patriarchs to the congregation. The three prelates gave sermons that focused on the Bible verses from John 1:35-51, a passage that deals with Jesus, described by John the Baptist as the ‘Lamb of God’, as he calls his first disciples.
“Dialogue between the Oriental Orthodox Churches has borne fruit,” Mr Saleh said. “Now we have two joint committees. The first is a youth committee formed of young representatives of each Church; it has met once in Lebanon. The second is concerned with the publications and has issued a book explaining the history of each Church in the Oriental Orthodox Family.”
Mr Saleh expressed a wish that other celebrations of Mass may see the participation of the patriarchs of the Oriental Orthodox Churches.
22 January 2018