Welcome to my humble blog!

Hello everyone.

I wish to welcome you and thank you for visiting my blog.

I hope you enjoy your visit and that you get a chance to respond to any of the posts.

I hope you have a wonderful day. God bless you.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Journey "Home!"

Dear sisters and brothers,

Well, I have been in New Jersey now for seven months and ten days. It has been an interesting time of my life and not the easiest at times. Yet, it has also been a very fruitful time. This time away from my diocese has given me a chance for much reflection and prayer. It has also been a very busy time full of useful activities and work.

Being in New Jersey has given me the opportunity to concentrate for a while on my research which I hope one day will be of benefit to the Coptic Church and to religious educators in general and I pray that it may add a little to the body of knowledge. It has also given me the opportunity to gather many valuable resources that are not available in Australia.

During this relatively short period of time I was able to complete my Qualifying Paper and have it approved by my committee of three professors. I was also able to complete and defend my thesis proposal and have this approved as well. This will now open the path to continue the research process.

I am grateful for the fatherhood of His Holiness Pope Shenouda III for his enduring support and love throughout this time. I thank him for entrusting me with overseeing mission and evangelism and youth ministry whilst in the USA.

Working in such a ministry I hope assisted in some way to encourage and inspire local parishes of the importance of mission and evangelism as a central part of our daily work. I enjoyed meeting with the many churches (in NJ, PA, NC, DC and Ottawa), clergy, Sunday School teachers, youth leaders and laity and discussing this work with them.

So, now it is getting very cold in New Jersey and perhaps some snow is expected overnight and the temperature during the day tomorrow will peak at 24 degrees (-4 celsius). Even though I prefer the cold weather, but I think I can do without the sub freezing temperatures! My bags are almost packed and some dear friends will come tonight to bid their farewells.

So then, tomorrow evening (Tuesday) I will be travelling to Cairo and from there I will be heading back to Melbourne, Australia. One positive aspect of that at least, is that it will be summer and the weather will be wonderful and the trees will be in full bloom.

There is much awaiting me back home, yes in a way it is home as a bishop is married to his diocese according to the traditions of the Church and the diocese is his "bride." Yet our permanent home is in the heavens with the Lord and His angels, which I desire in every morning and with every breath.

Please pray for me. Thank you and God bless you.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Clerical Vestments and Evangelism!

About one month ago I was with a friend purchasing some coffee from Starbucks. It was a few days before Halloween. As we were waiting patiently in line an Indian gentleman behind me looked at me and said, "Holy Halloween!" Immediately I understood that he thought that I was in a costume preparing for some Halloween festivity that evening!  I then began to explain to him that I am not preparing for Halloween but in fact that I am a Christian clergyman and that I belong to one of the oldest Christian Churches in the world - The Coptic Orthodox Church. He then said, "Oh, aren't you the people that worship Haile Selassie?" He was alluding to the "Rastafari Movement" which is a cult that use cannabis as part of their so-called religious practices. They also worship Haile Selassie as God incarnate.

I continued to explain to this gentleman that the group he was referring to is a cult that began in Jamaica in the 1930's and we had nothing whatsoever to do with them. We are a Christian Orthodox Church who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour. At this stage I politely suggested that when he has sometime he should Google Coptic Orthodox Church and find out a little more about who we are and what we believe in. We greeted each other and we left.

This morning I was getting my coffee at Starbucks. As I was about to receive my order, to my surprise, the same Indian fellow was standing behind me! After the pleasantries he said, "I looked you up on Google! You are an ancient Church!" I said I am glad that you found out who we truly are. He asked some more about the vestments and their history to which I replied mentioning that it is an ancient tradition handed down from generation to generation. Then he asked me if I was married and I said that bishops and monks do not marry. He then said, "You are missing out on a great thing." I smiled and thought to myself, "well, he is missing out on a greater thing and that is faith in Jesus Christ. As for me, this is an honour and blessing for my life that I do not deserve to serve God's faithful people."

Then I continued to wonder as I walked back to the car, "Will this man one day come to know Jesus Christ? Who knows? Perhaps, but certainly the interest has been initiated through our two encounters."

Many churches today have changed their position concerning their clergy wearing clerical vestments in public and I believe that this is unfortunate. The moral of this real life situation is that if I were not wearing my priestly vestments such a discussion on faith would not have been initiated. It is a type of evangelism in itself and these vestments draw people with inquisitive minds to want to know who you are and what do you belong to and for some such as this Indian fellow may go home and explore the Christian Orthodox world and who knows some day it may bring forth fruit, some thirty, some sixty and some, one hundred fold!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Fascinating Visit To The Presbyterian Historical Society

On Thursday 9 December, 2010 I visited the Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia, PA. It is approximately two hours away by car from the Coptic Archdiocese in Cedar Grove, NJ. A dear friend, Joseph Morcos graciously agreed to drive and spend the day with me. We agreed to leave at 6:30 a.m. to arrive by 8:30 a.m., which is the time the Society opens. I wanted to spend as much time there as possible.

It was an extremely cold morning, in fact it was about 20 degrees! (that's Fahrenheit for you Aussies reading this that means minus 6 degrees celsius!) The car battery would not start since the car was not in a garage and the cold weather affected it. This delayed us for about an hour, but by the grace of God we finally arrived at the Presbyterian Historical Society at around 10 a.m.

I am sure you are all wondering, "Why is a Coptic bishop so interested in visiting such a place so early in the morning on a cold winter's day that is a two hour drive away?" The answer is simple, "Archdeacon Habib Jirjis!" I am sure your next question would be, "What has such a Society got to do with Habib Jirjis?" Well, the US Presbyterian Church began a mission in Egypt in 1854. Their aims were to educate, preach and convert Muslims to Christianity. They were not successful in converting many Muslims and so they turned their attention to the Copts, whom they saw as following an "archaic faith," who were in need to be "saved" from their "old ways" and be converted to Protestantism. The Coptic church was going through many struggles at the time and there was a lack of theologians and religious educators in the church and so the Presbyterians were successful to some extent in converting some Copts.

There greatest success was in education and in the establishment of fine schools built upon solid educational principles and in establishing hospitals and in social welfare. So, the reason for my visit was to search the archives of this Society in Philadelphia for relevant material to my research. Material concerning education, curriculum, communications with Copts or even with Habib Jirjis. Relevant information on their mission in Egypt and their educational philosophy and how this affected Coptic education in Egypt.

I must say that I was most impressed by the facilities which serve as the archives for the Presbyterian Church in the USA. They have nine full time archivists and an annual budget of $2.1 million!!! Eighty percent of this budget is provided by their church and another twenty percent coming form donations and fundraising activities. The staff were polite and extremely helpful and very knowledgeable of their collections. It is very well organised and has a wealth of information about Egypt and their mission since 1854. This includes books, pamphlets, film, photographs, newsletters, hand written notes from missionaries and many reels of microfilm.

I thought to myself, I pray, hope and dream that one day I may see in the Coptic Church such a center in which we can preserve our rich archives of the Coptic church and make it available to researchers from all over the world and especially for our own community to benefit from and learn about our history. It also made me think about how things are organised in my diocese and for the need and importance of archiving all aspects of the ministry. This has always been something in my mind to have such a section in our Theological College Library. Certainly when we build the main library in the future there will be an archival section. Perhaps a few decades down the track there may be a need for a similar society to be established in Australia for the Copts and their history in that part of the world.

The day passed by very quickly and I did not even scratch the surface of discovery of the wealth of material available on the mission to Egypt. I was able to photocopy some useful material. I found for example the speeches given at the Coptic Congress held at Assiut on March 6-8, 1911. I also discovered the Program of Studies for the American Mission Schools for girls in Egypt published in 1921. I also found a booklet titled, "Theological Seminary American Mission, Cairo, Egypt. 1863-1913." There were also several journal articles on the work of the Presbyterians in Egypt.

I think I will need to come back and spend several days to sift through the microfilms for useful information for my research. It was overall a very fruitful experience and a most enjoyable day exploring how a church documents its work in a foreign country like Egypt. If any one lives in the area it is worthwhile making the trip and learning a much of how the Presbyterians established their mission and schools in Egypt.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Successful Thesis Proposal Hearing!

Dear friends,

This afternoon 7 December, 2010 I had my Thesis Proposal Hearing at the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education at Fordham University.

By the grace of God and through your prayers it was a very fruitful and successful hearing. All three professors were satisfied that this thesis proposal was sound. I am indebted to my mentor, Professor John Elias who has encouraged me along this journey and has offered me great advice and guidance. I also wish to thank Professor Gloria Durka for reading my work and also for the input she has offered towards my proposal. I also need to thank another great scholar, Associate Professor Deacon Severus, who is my external reader. He has been instrumental in giving expert advice in how to proceed with this dissertation and has provided me with many valuable sources and detailed notes to guide me through the labyrinth of writing such a thesis. I am truly grateful to them all for their support and guidance.

There are many others that have assisted me to gather valuable resources for this research, in particular I wish to thank Dr. Saad Michael Saad from Los Angeles, Dr. Sinout from the American University in Cairo and Ms. Lawrence Moftah. I also wish to thank Associate Professor Paul Sedra and Professor Nelly van Doorn Harder for their insights and many sources and articles that they have kindly provided for me, they have both been most gracious and supportive. I will certainly be calling on their work and publications in my thesis. Now I can move to the final and the long journey of reading, researching and writing the actual thesis.

It is projected that it may take about two years to complete.

The photos show me pictured with my mentor, Professor John Elias and one of my readers, Professor Gloria Durka. One of the students from Nigeria, Fr. Noel Effiong, who is my colleague in the PhD program also attend, for which I was very grateful. Fr. Effiong will be defending his thesis next week and I wish him every success.

Also in attendance were two dear friends Joseph Morcos and Ralph Toss and Dina who works in development at Fordham Prep. I am grateful to all of them for their attendance and encouragement.

I also wish to thank the many well wishers both in the USA and back home in Melbourne. May the Lord reward you all for your support and prayers.

Your prayers please. Thank you.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thesis Proposal Hearing

Dear friends,

I am happy to inform you that The Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education at Fordham University has set a date and time for my Thesis Proposal Hearing. Please remember me in your prayers.

Here are the details:

Friday, November 19, 2010

Back in NJ

Greetings everyone from a cold New Jersey.

I have just arrived back yesterday to New Jersey where we are at the end of the Fall season and about to hit winter. I was surprised that it was not too cold upon my arrival, I expected colder weather.

The plane ride on Lufthansa was very pleasant from Cairo to Frankfurt and on Continental from Frankfurt to New Jersey. I had an exit seat on the second flight in economy with extra leg room which helped immensely.

The trip to Egypt was very fruitful and I met several new people with so much talent and scholarship that were eager to assist with my research into this interesting part of our modern Coptic history. I was able to gain access to the Patriarchal archives and I found one file pertaining to Habib Jirjis that has some interesting documents. I still need to read through them all and decipher some of the hand writing. One interesting letter I found was the letter of appointment of Habib Jirjis as dean of the Seminary written by Pope Cyril V. On a future trip to Cairo I will need to do more work in the archives. I hope that one day all of this material can be digitized for the benefit of future generations and for much needed research.

Since I had my American University student card I was allowed access to the library. I enjoyed immensely my visit to the new AUC Library and to the University in general. It was wonderful to see in Egypt a University of this standard built with a cost of $1.7 billion USD. At the AUC library I found some useful material and I was deeply impressed by their rare book collection. I was able to see some rare documents from the Erian Moftah collection donated to the library by his grand daughter Ms. Laurence Moftah. Ms. Moftah was kind enough to arrange for a digital copy of this collection to be prepared for me. I believe that in this collection there is a notebook of the lessons that Erian Moftah wrote during his learning at the Coptic Schools of the nineteenth century along with several hand written books in Coptic.

So, now I am back in New Jersey hoping to defend my Thesis Proposal in the next few weeks. Once this is completed, then I will be able to begin a long two year journey of reading and writing to complete this important and yet difficult task of writing my dissertation. I think it is an important journey of discovery that I am really looking forward on embarking upon.

I do encourage many others to study and know the rich history, theology and spirituality of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt.

Talk to you soon. God bless and thanks for reading.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Greetings From Cairo

Greetings to you all from sunny Cairo.

It has been a very interesting and fruitful trip to Cairo so far. I have had the opportunity to meet with our beloved father and shepherd, His Holiness Pope Shenouda III. His Holiness is very well and in good health. The Holy Synod Seminar was this morning, attended by 84 metropolitans and bishops.

I have also had the opportunity to visit the new campus of the American University in Cairo (AUC). There I found useful books for my research in their bookshop as well as many resources in their excellent new library.

I was able to meet with some scholars that were very helpful in assisting me in gathering more important resources for my research. Sometimes it feels like writing a PhD thesis is somewhat like an archeologist digging for treasures deep under the earth and not sure what he may find next. It is exciting work and yet very time consuming.

I will be heading back to New York to the cold winter weather in a few short days. I thank the Lord for this blessing of visiting Egypt once again and also seeing many of our blessed members of the Holy Synod and learning from their wisdom.

God bless you all.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Congratulatory Message

Re: The Official Opening of the New Science and Language Centre 
at St. Mary's Coptic Orthodox College

Dear distinguished guests, Fr. Tadros Sharobeam, staff, students and parents of St. Mary’s Coptic Orthodox College,

It gives me immense pleasure to congratulate all of you on this new milestone in Coptic education in Australia! This new $5 million state-of-the-art Science and Language Centre will serve to further advance excellence in education at the College. I also send to you the greetings of His Holiness Pope Shenouda III who has always believed in the importance of such school projects and speaks very highly of the Coptic Schools in Melbourne. May the Lord preserve his life for us and grant him the best of health to continue to shepherd his flock all around the globe.

We are deeply indebted to the Federal government for there generous grants, a total of $4.67 million. For, without these grants this project would not have been possible. Hence, the students of this school would have been greatly disadvantaged without this new building. Without this building and resources, our students would not have had the same opportunity as students in other schools to excel in these key-learning areas of science and literacy.

In the book of Proverbs it says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6) This is what I see being the aim of having Coptic Schools in Australia. It is about educating for life. Educating children in how to excel in their academic studies and to be fine citizens of this great nation Australia. And at the same time teaching them the core values of their Christian Orthodox faith as well as teaching students how to integrate and have an important role in the Australian society.

I am sorry that I was not able to be with you on this important occasion and to celebrate with you. As some of you are aware that I am in the USA for a while working on my PhD in Religious Education. The title of my dissertation is “Habib Jirjis, Orthodox Educator: A Light in the Darkness.” Habib Jirjis gave great importance to religious education and to reform in the Coptic Orthodox Church in the first half of the twentieth century. He said “Education is the first need for the community after bread”[1] This is how strongly Habib Jirjis felt about the importance of education in the life of each individual. I am sure if Archdeacon Habib Jirjis was alive today and could see this College and this new Science and Language Centre he would be very proud and he would feel that his vision for reform and the advancement of Coptic education is coming to fruition thousands of miles away from Egypt, in Melbourne, Australia.

I have seen photos of the new building and they are magnificent and are a great testament to the great work of the founder and director of the school, Very Rev. Fr. Tadros Sharobeam. I am sure that today is a happy day for him and for all of the excellent staff working with him to see the College progress in such a fine way. I wish to also thank the parents who have supported the school over many years and believed and shared in our vision. I wish to thank our wonderful students, for without you we would not have a school. I wish every success to the VCE students in their exams and wait to hear good news about their success.

I pray that soon I may see you all again in order to congratulate you personally on this very fine achievement not only for the College but for all of the Diocese of Melbourne.

I hope the weather in Melbourne is warming up as you will soon enjoy summer and your vacations, and as I prepare for winter and lots of snow and sub zero temperatures.

May our Holy Mother Saint Mary continue to bless the College and each one of you. I also ask for your prayers on my behalf. Be absolved through the Holy Spirit.

Bishop of Melbourne
4 November, 2010

[1] Jirjis, Habib. 1942. The Practical Means Towards Coptic Reform: Hopes and Dreams. 1st ed. Cairo: Self-Published.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Please Pray For Egypt's Copts

As many of you have read the sad news coming from Iraq and the massacre of more than 50 Christians inside a Catholic Church. There has also been a threat targeting the Copts of Egypt by Al Qaeda.

Please pray for our dear brothers and sisters in Egypt and for the Church, may the Lord protect them from all evil and suffering.

Please read the following article in The National Review Online which sums up very well what has been happening since the beginning of this year.

God bless you all.

Friday, October 29, 2010

St. Anthony's College - Melbourne

St. Anthony's Coptic Orthodox College in Frankston North is a vibrant growing school. They are currently in the process of adding four new classrooms besides other amenities to the current facilities. We are lucky to have two Coptic Schools in Melbourne to serve our Coptic families and to give excellent education to our students. Also to care for their spirituality and to assist them to maintain their Coptic identity in a multicultural society.

I urge the people of the diocese to fully support this school. This current project has also received a generous grant from the Australian government for which we are grateful. However this grant fell far short of the cost of the building and the school is in need of fundraising about $200, 000 in the next few weeks. If you can assist this school and invest in the future of our church through helping these students receive the education they deserve, I would most appreciate it.

May God bless you all and may you continue to prosper in all your endeavours.

St. Mary College New Building - Melbourne

These are pictures of the new $5 million Language Centre and Science labs at St. Mary's Coptic Orthodox College in Melbourne, Australia. This building will be officially opened next week. We thank the Australian government for their kind grant of $4.5 million which made this vital project possible. I wish to congratulate Fr Tadros Sharobeam for his vision for the school which celebrated its 20th anniversary since its opening in 1991 with 50 students. The school currently has about 630 students and has well advanced to be the best Coptic School with the most resources and facilities and excellent staff. Congratulations to all those involved and also to all the parents who support the school and to all the students who I am sure will benefit from this great new facility. It makes me very proud as an educator and as the bishop of the Diocese of Melbourne and someone who believes in pursuing excellence in education and spiritual life, to see the school to continue to grow in this way.

Earthquake in Christchurch, NZ

Hello again,

As many of you may know that on September 4, 2010 New Zealand suffered a massive earthquake with a magnitude of 7.4. It caused much damage to the city of Christchurch and surrounding areas. The quake caused at least NZ $4 billion in damages and more than 500 buildings have been condemned.

It is unfortunate that St. Mary & St. Athanasius Coptic Orthodox Church is one of those buildings that has been officially condemned by the authorities and will need to be demolished. As you can see from the photos above that the damage was extensive.

This has left our Coptic congregation there in a very dire and difficult situation. The insurance policy will  not cover the rebuilding of the church. It may not even cover 10 to 15% of the cost of rebuilding the church and hall and amenities. The church may need to find land elsewhere which will be an extra burden on the small congregation of about 70 families.

If there is anyone out there that can assist financially in any way to help this congregation to rebuild their church and to be able to worship again it will be very much appreciated. God bless you all.

Please pray for Fr Sourial Youssef the parish priest, his family and for all the congregation of Christchurch, NZ

Update On My Doctoral Work

Good afternoon everyone,

It has been an interesting week with respect to my research. There has been a setback in my work, but I think it is for the better. One of the scholars reading my work has given me invaluable feedback on my Qualifying Paper and on how to proceed forward.

I need to read all of Habib Jirjis' corpus of writing chronologically in order to plot out the major ideas Habib Jirjis focused on. Also it will provide me with a relative chronology for when Jirjis was occupied with and adressed specific issues over his long career. It will also enable me to identify thematic passages.

This requires taking extensive notes on Habib Jirjis' writings. This is a very large project. Habib Jirjis wrote over thirty books, many articles and was the editor in chief of The Vine Journal which he published monthly for seventeen years and wrote many of its articles.

Then there is secondary sources that speak about Habib Jirjis that need to be read and extensive notes to be taken on them. But this is not the end, for there is also important tertiary sources that speak about a variety of subjects including, education in Egypt, in the Church, the political situation in Egypt, the history of the Church at the time, the work of the foreign missionaries and its effect on the Copts and much more.

So you see, this is not a normal thesis in my opinion, but requires much research and digging to find relevant material including rare Egyptian newspapers that may have written about Habib Jirjis or that he may have written articles in such newspapers or may even contain articles on Education in Egypt.

I have found that the more you read, the more you discover. As my professors have also told me, do not aim for perfection and you can fall into the trap of writing too much. So, I need to learn the skills of how to trim what is not necessary for this study, and what can be added later in future articles or even books.

So, now I feel the mountain has tripled in size at least with the task that is ahead of me. I believe that Habib Jirjis has not been given his rightful position within Egyptian history and is hardly mentioned in books and studies about the Middle East. It is high time for a proper academic study of this outstanding figure to be commenced and completed.

I do need many prayers to begin and complete this mammoth task.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Meeting With H.H. Pope Shenouda III

Prior to departing Cleveland, Ohio on Tuesday October, 27 2010 I had the blessing of meeting His Holiness Pope Shenouda III. His Holiness is in good health and in good spirits as usual. It was a joyful opportunity to see my father, whom I love very much. I was able to take this quick photo before I left, I apologise for the poor quality of the photo. May the Lord Jesus Christ preserve the life of our holy father and return him safely to our beloved Egypt. God bless you all.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

H.H. Pope Shenouda III in Cleveland

Good evening dear brethren,

I am currently in Cleveland, OH where I have had the great blessing to spend a joyful time with my dear father, His Holiness Pope Shenouda III. His Holiness arrived here on Sunday evening for his regular health check-up. He is very well and has brought so much joy to all of us who have had the honor of meeting him.

I met His Holiness on Sunday night, and he greeted me with great joy and love. The first issue he asked about was my progress in the PhD dissertation. He then asked about the ministry in North America.

Every time that I meet with His Holiness it is sufficient for me to see his pure and holy face and his beautiful smile, and to hear his blessed words that are full of wisdom.

Once some monks visited St. Anthony the Great and one of them kept silent and when St. Anthony inquired about his silence the monk replied, "It is enough to see you my father." Truly, seeing His Holiness brings me so much peace and comfort and I feel that our Holy Coptic Orthodox Church is safe in his pure hands. I feel we are all being protected by the prayers that he offers on behalf of each and every one of us no matter our position. He is the ideal of the good shepherd who knows his flock and tends to their needs.

May the Lord Jesus Christ preserve the life of our honoured father His Holiness Pope Shenouda III for many blessed years to come. We love you Sayedna and we ask for your prayers always.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Visiting St. Mark Church - Washington D.C.

This weekend (22-24 October, 2010) I will be visiting St. Mark Church in Washington D.C. This is a very active church with many pastoral and mission activities. It is served by three young and energetic priests. This church also has a Coptic school that recently were awarded $500, 000 by Kohl's Stores. It is a great achievement and reflects the hard work of the clergy and strong congregation.

I look forward to receive many blessings this weekend and enjoy a spiritual time among the clergy, youth, servants and congregation.

I was searching for a rare book written by Yusuf Manqarius in 1913. Manqarius was the former dean of the  Seminary in Cairo before Habib Jirjis. After exhausting all avenues, I finally located the book in the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. Very Reverend Fr. Bishoy Andrawes was kind enough to assist me to receive a digital copy of the book which I needed for my research. The book is valuable since it discusses the history of the Coptic nation from 1893 to 1912 in much detail and includes many important documents and memorandums.

Thank you so much Fr Bishoy for your valuable assistance.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Dissertation Mentoring Seminar

This afternoon I will attend my monthly dissertation mentoring seminar. This includes all of the doctoral candidates who have completed their coursework and are working on their dissertations. It is led by one of the professors in the Religious Education School.

Each student gives an update of their progress, other students may ask questions about a particular research. Also, two students give a more in depth report of a particular aspect of their work.

The professor also gives very important insights and information about various aspects and pitfalls of writing a dissertation. The seminar is 2 hours in length.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Fordham University - New York

Here are some photos of Fordham University in the Bronx, New York where I am currently studying.

Oxford Patristics Conference 2011

Good morning,

Well, it's starting to cool down in New York and the leaves on the trees are changing to amazingly beautiful colors and are beginning to fall as we head to winter. Well, as many of you know that I prefer the cooler weather. The snow? Well, that's another issue, I guess its fun at first but once you have experienced it for a while it can become very cumbersome.

Anyway, that is not the reason for this post. I wanted to make you aware of an excellent conference coming up in August next year at Oxford University in the U.K. This is the Oxford Patristics Conference that is held every four years. Yes, pretty much like the Olympics. In fact I like to call it the "Olympics of Patristics." It is attended by over 700 Patristic scholars coming from all over the world and presenting hundreds of scholarly papers on all aspects of patristics. It also includes a section on Coptic studies and patristics.

It is unfortunate that very few Coptic scholars attend this very important conference. I do hope that more will be encouraged to participate and attend. I have had the privilege of attending the last two conferences in 2003 and 2007 and look forward to 2011 God willing.

For further information and on how to present a short communication please visit:


The photos above were taken in 2007 at the last conference. Hope to see some of you there. Have a great day!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Our Beloved and Great Pope: His Holiness Pope Shenouda III

I had the privilege and the honor of taking this photo with His Holiness Pope Shenouda III last year and wanted to share it with you. It is a time when we all need to lift up our hearts in prayer. To pray for our beloved holy father and for our Mother church and for all Copts in Egypt. To pray that peace and love may prevail among all Egyptian citizens. The Lord has promised that the gates of hades shall not prevail against His Church.

St. George and St Anthony Church in Ottawa, Canada

On Sunday October 3, 2010 I celebrated the Divine Liturgy at St. George and St. Anthony Coptic Orthodox Church in Ottawa, ON in Canada.

It is a beautifully designed Coptic Church as can be seen from the photos above.

Liturgy Next Sunday

I will be celebrating the Divine Liturgy next Sunday October 17, 2010 at St. Mary and St. George Church in Albany, New York. The parish priest of that church is Fr. Demetrius Mansour. The time to travel from Cedar Grove, NJ to Albany, NY is about two and a half hours. The Offertory will begin at 9 a.m.

Doctoral Work Update

Hello Everyone!

Well, I have just stumbled over the world of blogging and thought I would give it a try.

Although there are no current followers to this blog, I hope some people will join it soon.

I am currently working towards completing my doctoral dissertation at Fordham University in New York.

This doctoral work is being conducted in the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education. The topic I have chosen concerns a great figure of the first half of the twentieth century in the life of the Coptic Orthodox Church: Archdeacon Habib Jirjis.

It is a long process with many stages. I have completed my coursework and my Qualifying Paper. The Qualifying Paper has been reviewed by my supervising professor and has today been sent to the two readers for their approval.

I have also completed my Thesis Proposal and it has also been reviewed by my supervisor and has been sent to my editor before it goes back to the supervisor and then to the readers. So you can see that each section or chapter goes through a lengthy process before approval is granted.

I am now currently working on chapter four of the thesis that will speak about Archdeacon Habib Jirjis' reform philosophy.

In my next blog I will tell you more about Habib Jirjis and about my thesis.

Thanks for reading and I would love to receive your comments.