Anba Tawadros was born Waguih Sobhy Baqi Soliman in 1952, to a family whose father’s job as a survey engineer required him to be stationed in various places in Egypt.
The family finally settled down in Damanhur, Beheira, west of the Delta, where the young Soliman was a regular and active volunteer in Church services, and was put in charge of the Sunday School service at the church of the Archangel Michael in Damanhur. Meanwhile, he earned a degree in Pharmacy from Alexandria University in 1975 and in 1985 a degree from the UK. He was manager of a pharmaceutical plant in Damanhur.
Anba Pachomeus’s disciple
Soliman’s relation with Anba Pachomeus, Archbishop of Beheira and the current acting patriarch, goes back to his years as a university student when his broadmindedness and keenness on Church service drew the archbishop’s attention. Soliman served with Anba Pachomeus until he took orders in 1988 under the name of Tawadros (Theodore) at the monastery of Anba Bishoi in the Western Desert. There, he was put in charge of the monastery’s guesthouse. In 1990, the monk Tawadros was ordained a priest and took charge of the youth service.
When Pope Shenouda decided to make Fr Tawadros bishop-general, Anba Pachomeus asked to have him serve in Beheira.
Anba Tawadros has written several books on the Christian faith and Bible study, as well as a number of booklets on the various feasts or occasions of the Church. He is credited with establishing the concept of special prayer meetings for specific groups, including family meetings, youth meetings, workers’ meetings, and suchlike. He launched the meetings during the 1990s, and now it has become a nationwide Church practice. He also established Beit al-Karma at King Maryut in the vicinity of Alexandria, as a retreat centre. The Beit includes a Bible museum and an activity centre for children.
Anba Tawadros also teaches at the Coptic Orthodox Church’s Clerical College.
Intermingle and integrate
In an interview aired by Christian TV channels some three weeks ago, Anba Tawadros talked at length about his work with the youth. He said that, especially after the 25 January Revolution, listening to the young and interacting with them on an intelligent basis is of vital importance. “Dialogue with youth can no longer be handled from the social perspective of defending a fait accompli; we should strive to come up with new convincing means of dialogue,” said Anba Tawadros.
From time immemorial, Anba Tawadros said, Egyptians of all religions have coexisted and intermingled, and we should work to preserve this. “Sadly,” he said, “we have lived a phase where our children refrained from dealing with the others outside the Church. In many instances, Coptic youth no longer sufficiently integrated in their community since the various activities were offered to them in their churches.”
“Through schools and the media, we should work to teach our children to integrate in the community and intermingle with the ‘other’,” he said.
11 November 2012