Pope Tawadros’s schedule on his Canberra and Melbourne visit, which began Tuesday 6 September and runs till 12 September, has included an intense official and pastoral programme of meeting with the Coptic congregation, consecrating churches, opening and blessing new projects, as well as meeting Australian officials.
The Egyptian consulate in Melbourne helhttp://en.wataninet.com/coptic-affairs-coptic-affairs/coptic-affairs/in-canberra-pope-tawadros-meets-politicians-blesses-habib-girgis-building/21197/d an event in honour of Pope Tawadros. Egypt’s ambassador to Australia, Muhammad Khairat, and Egypt’s Consul in Melbourne Muhammad Fakhry were there to welcome the Pope and the delegation accompanying him, also the bevy of Australian officials and public figures as well as the members of the Coptic community who attended.
Pigeons fly above
On Friday 8 September, the Pope consecrated the church of St Mina and St Marina in Melbourne and presided over Divine Liturgy. Participating with him were Bishop Suriel; Bishop Danial of Maadi, Egypt; Bishop Daniel of Sydney; Bishop Danial, Abbot of St Shenouda Monastery in Sydney; and Anba Hermina of Ain Shams and Mattariya, Cairo.
Pope Tawadros visited and blessed the Coptic Orthodox guesthouse in Melbourne, and opened a new wing at a home for the elderly run by the Coptic Church. The new wing is named after the late Fr Mina Rizqallah who has to his credit pioneering efforts in the area of guesthouses and homes.
The Pope visited St Anthony monastery in Melbourne where he joined Bishop Suriel in letting pigeons off to fly in the monastery’s sky, and officially opened the St Shenoute monastic library. He later inaugurated the Archangel Michael Convent which he described as an “oasis of spiritual life”. He praised the two nuns who had come to Melbourne from St Demiana convent in Egypt to sow the seeds of Egyptian monastic tradition in Australia. He said that Coptic monasteries and convents the world over represent unity of spirit and prayer.
At the iconic St Paul’s Cathedral in the heart of the Melbourne, Pope Tawadros delivered a sermon in which he talked about the Coptic New Year that begins on 11 September, and which commemorates Coptic martyrs. He connected this with the life of sanctity Christians should live for the glory of God.
Eporo: King of Peace
On 10 September, Pope Tawadros consecrated another Coptic church in Melbourne, in the name of St Verena and St Bishoi. He joined Bishop Suriel in opening the Eporo (Coptic for: The King [of Peace]) Tower in Melbourne, to act as a beacon of Coptic culture and activity, the Coptic Church and St Athanasius Theological College which is affiliated to the University of Divinity in Melbourne. The tower includes the beautiful St Verena and St Bishoi church, offices, a library, conference centre, study and research facilities, as well as facilities for other services. In attendance was Nabila Makram, Egypt’s Immigration Minster.
A gala dinner was held in the evening of 10 September in honour of Pope Tawadros. Governor of Victoria, Linda Desseau, attended; as did Mr Khairat, a number of MPs, and heads of various Churches. The Pope gave a word in which he said that the Coptic Church in Australia is a living example of the verse in the first Psalm which says: “That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.” The Coptic Church in Australia, he said, started as a seed sown some 50 years ago; today it has grown into three parishes, numerous churches, monasteries and a convent, and schools. This, he said, is an extension of Egypt’s time-honoured civilization that has now reached Australia.
Tomorrow, 11 September, the Pope will celebrate the Coptic New Year and meet with the Coptic youth of Melbourne. He is expected to fly to Cairo the following day.