During his first visit to the United States since he became patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church in November 2012, Pope Tawadros II is meeting the Coptic congregation in the parishes of the Southern US and Los Angeles, Southern California, and Hawaii. The pastoral visit is expected to last some three weeks.
The Pope had arrived at Atlanta Airport on Wednesday 7 October, where he was greeted by the Coptic Orthodox Bishops of North and South America, a number of priests, and Mr Ayman Desouki, Consul General of the Egyptian Embassy in Washington D.C. Pope Tawadros was accompanied by Bishop Pavli, Bishop Angaelos, and the papal secretaries Fr Angaelos and Fr Ammonius. Meeting him at the airport were Bishop Serapion of Los Angeles, Southern California and Hawaii; Bishop Youssef of the Southern USA; Bishop David of New York and New England; Bishop Karas of the Archdiocese of North America); Bishop Mina of Mississauga, Vancouver and Western Canada); Bishop Eklemandos of Ottawa, Montreal and Eastern Canada); Bishop Michael of Maryland; and Bishop Youssef of Bolivia; as well as Fr Eleia Eskander, Fr Abraham Azmy and Fr Andrew Awad.
The Pope’s first stop was at the convent of St Mary and St Demiana in Dawsonville, Georgia. There he presided over ++Tasbiha++ (Midnight Praise) and Holy Mass, and talked to the nuns and novices. He said he was happy that his first stop was at a convent, especially that he had grown up near the convent of St Demiana in the Delta region in Egypt, and has many fond memories of the place. “The Church,” Pope Tawadros said, “moves on two ‘legs’: education and consecration. We consecrate our lives to Christ; the Bible says ‘What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?’
“Coptic monasticism,” the Pope said, “is the ‘monasticism of the shroud’. Funeral prayers are said when a man or woman take vows, meaning they die to all worldly needs and live as new beings in Christ, to everlasting life. Again, the Bible says ‘Be faithful unto death and I’ll give you a crown of life’.”
During Mass the Pope ordained two archdeacons, Hany Ibrahim and Mina Ghali, in preparation for their future ordainment as priests.
In Nashville, Atalanta, on Saturday 10 October, Pope Tawadros met the Coptic congregation at the church of Anba Bishoi, where he talked to them about the person Jesus loves. He said there were five traits that Jesus loved to see in those who followed Him: They do not quarrel or cry out, their voices are not heard on the street, a battered reed they do not break off, and a smouldering reed they do not put out. (Matt 12: 19, 20)
In a nutshell, these are traits that characterise love and peacefulness; love that accepts the weak, encourages them, and drives them to achieve near-impossible tasks. Jesus did so, the Pope said, with Peter who had denied him, Thomas who doubted His resurrection from the dead, and Saul who persecuted the Church. They ended up, however, the great apostles: St Peter, St Thomas and St Paul.
The Pope’s met with the congregation in South Florida, Orlando, and Houston. He consecrated the church of Anba Bishoi in Nashville and, on Sunday 11 October, the church of the Holy Virgin in South Florida.
Pope Tawadros then flew to Houston where he held meetings with the clergy and congregation of the church of St Mark in Houston, and also the Egyptian Consul General there. He then flew to Live Oak in Texas where he was received at the airport by Judge Jim Huff and Father Antonius Girgis of the church of Anba Antonius in San Antonio.
Pope Tawadros will hold a meeting with the young men and women of the Coptic Church and will preside over Holy Mass in Dallas on Wednesday 14 October, after which he will head west to LA.
13 October 2015