Memories from Holland

02-05-2012 12:14 PM

Magdy Ramzy, Secretary of the Coptic Church in the Netherlands

Pope Shenouda was a unique, unparalleled person. A holy man, a loving man, a forgiving man, a teacher and a genius in his own way.

Pope Shenouda was a unique, unparalleled person. A holy man, a loving man, a forgiving man, a teacher and a genius in his own way.
My first contact with H.H. was when I was about 10 years old, H.H. was a teacher at the English Mission College at Qubbah Palace in Cairo. I did not realize at that age that Mr Nazir Gayed will once upon a time become the pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church at the 117 th successor of St Mark the Evangelist.
Years later in 1983, when H.H. was confined to the Monastery of St Bishoy, I had the honour to meet with H.H. to request that H.H. finds a priest for the service of his children in the Netherlands. A visit I cannot forget. His love, his humour and his patience. He spent an hour with us while his secretary abouna Pisenti, now bishop Pisenti, kept reminding H.H. about the next appointment.
In 1985 H.H. found the suitable priest to send to the Netherlands.
The next visit was in 1992 in the Netherlands when H.H. came to consecrate our first churchDuring mass.jpg of St Mary in Amsterdam. We were honoured that H.H. has long after his visit remembered how orderly and organized the visit was. H.H. was so pleased that he kept telling people in other places “see how Holland organized my visit.”
It was a great pleasure to receive H.H. again in 1994 when he came for a conference with the reformed churches in Holland. It was then that H.H. realized that we needed more priests to serve the congregation in the Netherlands. Shortly after this we got three more churches and four more priests. A few years later two more churches and four more priests. Now the Netherlands has six churches and eight priests.
From 1998 onwards our visits to Cairo increased and there was no visit without being started with a visit to H.H. where my wife and I always spent more time than we dared ask for. Because my wife sometimes did not hear what H.H. said and asked him to repeat it again H.H. always joked with her as if she did not understand the Arabic and asked her slowly and clearly “Do you understand me?” We then laughed and went on with our talk whether it was about the service in Holland or private stories that he told us about his life.
In 2010 we visited H.H. to ask him if it will be at all possible for H.H. to once again visit the Netherlands to consecrate our church of the Archangel and St Anthony in Eindhoven. We were over the moon when H.H. agreed and said that one church was not enough and if the programme can be expanded. So we added the consecration of the church of St Mark in The Hague, the opening of the renewed Coptic Centre for Coptic Culture and Studies, in Amsterdam and a meeting with as many Copts as possible in a large Catholic Cathedral that took about 2000 people. At the last minute H.H. also wanted to visit our Church in Utrecht. It was miraculous for a man at his age and in his health condition to do all that in less than 48hrs. H.H. arrived Friday night at about 22.00 hrs and left Sunday at exactly 14.00 hrs. The final stop of H.H. was the unforgettable blessing of our home where he rested for a few hours before we took H.H. to Eindhoven airport from where H.H. left for Cairo. 
Our last meeting was in November 2010 to thank H.H. for his visit. This turned to be the last meeting. Allow me to direct the following words to his spirit. Our beloved father and teacher, I could have written a book with all the details of the blessed times my wife and I spent with Y.H. here in Anba Ruis, in the Monastery of Anba Bishoy and in your residence in Alexandria where we had one of the most unforgettable visits with Y.H. 
Dear father, pray for us and for our church and our beloved Egypt that the Lord may chose for us a suitable leader for our church and a suitable leader for our beloved Egypt, which Y.H. called not only a nation in which we live but a nation that lives in us. The children of this nation of every religion grieved Y.H. here in Egypt and all over the world. Everyone felt and said that Egypt lost a great man. We know we did not lost Y.H. we know that Y.H.just moved residence from here on earth to paradise where Y.H. will continuously watch over us and pray for us before the throne of our Lord and Master. Rest in peace Ya Habiby. 
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