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 (Midnoght 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 ordainment as priests on Friday.
The Pope’s programme includes meetings with the congregation in Atlanta, Nashville, south Florida, Orlando, and Houston. He will consecrate the church of Anba Bishoi in Nashville, the church of the Holy Virgin in south Florida. Pope Tawadros will hold a meeting with the young men and women of the Coptic Church and will preside over Holy Mass in Dallas next Wednesday, after which he will head west to LA.
9 October 2015