The Western Desert monastery of Anba Bishoi has witnessed the consecration of four new bishops and the seating of three as diocese bishops. The ceremony was performed by Pope Tawadros II during Vespers on the evening of Saturday 11 November and resumed during Holy Mass on Sunday 12 November.
The Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church had recently agreed on consecrating two monks from Ava Shenoute (Anba Shenouda) Monastery in Milan, Fr Giovanni and Fr Antonio, as bishops-general of Mid-Europe and Milan respectively, in place the late Coptic Orthodox Metropolitan of Milan Anba Kyrillos who passed away 14 August 2017 after 21 years as a widely-loved bishop.
The Holy Synod agreed as well to consecrate Fr Seraphim al-Syriani as Bishop of Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana.
It was also decided to seat Anba Karass, Bishop-General and Coptic Orthodox Papal Deputy in the US, as Bishop of Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and West Virginia; Anba Angaelos as Bishop of London; and Anba Marc as Bishop of Paris.
The Coptic Church will thus have three new dioceses: two in the US and one in Europe.
It was also decided that the monk Fr Bigoul al-Muharraqi would be consecrated as Bishop and Abbot of Deir al-Muharraq in Assiut, to succeed the late Abbot Anba Sawiris who passed away last July after serving as abbot for 43 years.
From General to Diocese Bishops
The consecration/seating ceremony at Anba Bishoi’s was held with the participation of 102 metropolitans and bishops out of a total 127—counting the seven newly-consecrated bishops—who are members of the Coptic Orthodox Holy Synod. Those who could not attend had apologised for reasons of poor health.
During Vespers, Pope Tawadros gave a word in which he spoke of the steps followed to choose a bishop. “We begin with fervent prayers for God to help us choose the new pastor. We talk with the monks of the monastery that requires an abbot, or to the priests in the parish that requires a bishop. Based upon all this, the name or names of the nominees are handed to the members of the Holy Synod for review and final selection.
“Today” the Pope said, “Three general bishops have been seated for specific dioceses.
“Anba Angaelos, who will be Bishop of the Diocese of London, has behind him years of diligent ministry and higher studies in various fields. He was consecrated General Bishop in 1999, is member of the World Council of Churches, President of the Bible Society, and has participated in countless conferences and dialogues.
“Anba Karass has served in Jerusalem and Ireland, and was consecrated General Bishop of New Jersey in 2014. Now he will be Bishop of the Diocese of Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and West Virginia.
“Anba Marc, who will be Bishop of the Diocese of Paris, has a degree in Commerce and took orders in 1998. He served with Anba Ghabrial in Austria, and was consecrated General Bishop in 2015 to minister in Paris and North of France. He is fluent in Arabic, Coptic, German, and now in French.”
Four monks become bishops
“As for the monks who will be consecrated new bishops,” Pope Tawadros said, “Among them is Fr Bigoul al-Muharraqi who graduated for Assiut University with a degree in Commerce, and took orders in 2000. The late abbot, Anba Sawiris, chose him to be deputy dean of the seminary in Assiut, where he has also engaged in research on the foundation of the Church in the Acts of the Apostles.
“Fr Seraphim al-Syriani has a degree in science from Ain Shams University, took orders in 1993, and was among the nominees for the papacy in 2012. He served in Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana, and will now become Bishop of the new diocese that will include these three states.
“Fr Antonio Ava Shenoute was a medical doctor who later took orders at Ava Shenoute monastery in Milan, which was founded by the late Anba Kyrillos of Milano. He served in several places in Italy, among them Milan. Before he passed away, Ava Kyrillos had been talking to me about the monastery, and said there were two monks there who were ripe for the ministry. As he said, so are we doing. Fr Antonio is one of them; he will become Bishop of Milano with the exception of Venice which will be directly under our charge.
“The other monk from Ava Shenoute’s is Fr Giovanni who took orders in 1983. He will be Bishop of the Diocese of Mid-Europe, which will include Hungary, Romania, Poland, Czech Republic, and Slovakia.”
Ministry of washing feet
“Today we rejoice,” Pope Tawadros said, “because we have new bishops to serve and join our Holy Synod.”
The Pope spoke of the responsibility of a bishop, describing it as a heavy burden that has to be borne with faith. “It is a great responsibility,” he said, “since the Lord will take us to account for every soul among the flock; ‘Be faithful unto death,’ He says”. In case anyone thinks the new bishops have taken a promotion, the Pope reminded everyone that ‘promotion’ in the Church indicated an advance in humbleness, in the ministry of ‘washing feet’. “A minister can never serve faithfully except by humbleness,” the Pope said.
12 November 2017