This afternoon, 7 March 2018, a funeral service was held at al-Boutrossiya Church in Abbassiya, Cairo, for Anba Fam, the late Bishop of Tema who breathed his last in a London hospital on 25 February 2018.
Anba Fam, who passed away at age 73, was widely loved and revered not only by Tema’s Copts, but by Copts and Muslims all over Egypt. He was bishop for 37 years; a huge sense of loss and heartbreak engulfs Tema residents at his departure.
The body of Anba Fam had been flown to Cairo aboard an EgyptAir flight that arrived at Cairo Airport on the evening of 6 March. Anba Bakhoum, Bishop of Sohag and currently in charge of the diocese of Tema, was on hand to receive the casket at the airport; accompanying him were a number of Sohag clergy and members of the congregation. The casket was taken to the church of the Archangel Michael in Masakin Sheraton, a Heliopolis suburb close to the airport, where it was laid for the night. Praise was held in the early hours of the day, and Holy Mass celebrated in the morning as the casket lay before the sanctuary. After Mass, it was driven to Boutrossiya for the funeral service.
Pope Tawadros presided over the funeral service for Anba Fam. Sohag Governor, Ayman Abdel-Moneim, was there to pay his last respects to the beloved Bishop. Attending and participating in the service were some 30 bishops from Egypt, also
a delegation that had flown from Sudan for the occasion. Members of the bereaved Sohag Coptic clergy and congregation attended.
The Pope started with Thanksgiving Prayer, and gave a deeply moving word. He talked of death as the one most unquestionable reality on the face of the Earth, a reality full of wonder. “But Heaven is even a more wondrous reality,” Pope Tawadros said, “that awaits all who lead good, righteous lives on Earth. We live on Earth but aspire to Heaven. This is where prayer comes in.” The Pope called on everyone to prepare for everlasting life in Heaven, saying that this meant we should take care not to get engrossed in earthy trivialities.
Anba Fam, the Pope said, had chosen to renounce the world to take orders. Not long after that he was shouldered with the responsibility of Tema; he was consecrated Bishop of Tema 37 years ago. He earned a reputation as a quiet man of prayer and praise, who possessed an outstanding spirit of service.
The Pope concluded by thanking Governor Abdel-Moneim for his heartfelt sympathy, as well as all who offered their condolences and help when needed. This included members of parliament; Anba Angaelos, Bishop of London; and Anba Anthony, Bishop of Ireland, Scotland, and Northeast England. He also thanked the members of the medical team who had attended Anba Fam in London.
Once the funeral service ended, the casket was taken to Tema’s Abu-Fam cathedral where a service will be held tomorrow, Thursday 8 March, and Anba Fam’s body will be laid to rest in a special tomb prepared for him at the monastery of St Fr Yassa Mikhail.
Governor Abdel-Moneim has returned to Sohag and said he will be attending tomorrow’s service. In a much appreciated gesture, he gave the Copts of Tema the day off to allow them to pay their last respects to their beloved pastor.
Anba Fam was Bishop of Tema and its Environs; Tema is part of the southern governorate of Sohag, some 460km south of Cairo. He was born Tobia Ishaq Kheir in 1945 in the town of Akhmim, Sohag. In 1967, he gained a degree in mining engineering from Assiut University. Preferring a life of monasticism, however, he took orders in 1967 under the name Mina al-Anba Bishoi. In 1979 he was ordained a priest, and in 1980 was consecrated Bishop of Tema
7 March 2018