A letter from the leaders of St. Mina's Coptic Orthodox Churchi in Holmdel
This Saturday, March 17th, in Holmdel, NJ and the rest of the Coptic Orthodox community worldwide suffered the loss of their spiritual leader, His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, the 117th Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark.
Pope Shenouda III was originally a monk in the Syrian Monastery of the Ever Virgin St. Mary in Egypt before being ordained a priest, and later becoming the Bishop for Christian Education and Dean of the Coptic Orthodox Theological Seminary. After the passing of Pope Cyril VI on March 9th 1971, he was selected and ordained Pope on November 14th, 1971.
During his Papacy, the Coptic Orthodox Church which had begun expanding outside of Egypt, grew at a greater pace and His Holiness appointed the first ever Bishops to preside over North American dioceses that now contain over 200 Coptic Orthodox Churches in the USA, including St. Mina’s Coptic Orthodox Church. Further, His Holiness’ continued work in Christian education continued as he published over 100 books in both Arabic and English.
On March 20th, Egypt observed 3 days of mourning to commemorate the passing of Pope Shenouda III who died at age of 88. His Holiness is buried at St. Bishoy’s Monastery in Wadi El-Natrun, approximately one hour outside of Cairo.
The community at St. Mina’s commemorated the life and achievements of His Holiness Pope Shenouda III on Saturday and Sunday by sermons from our Parish Priests, Fr. Abraam George and Fr. Abraham Wassef and replays of some of the Pope’s weekly sermons.
The Pope wrote a final message to the people, translated below, as a farewell and encouragement as the Coptic Orthodox Church begins the process in the coming weeks and months to select his successor.
I am your father and teacher, all of you are my children, listen to my commandments, for I ask you my beloved children, preserve and holdfast to the faith of the Holy Trinity.
I ask you my beloved children, love one another with a true love.
I ask you my beloved, do good with all humanity.
I ask my beloved children, do not let the world deceive you.
I ask you my beloved children, do not fall short or “be not eager” in the service of the Lord.
I ask you my beloved children, to pray without ceasing and tirelessly.
I ask you my beloved children, preserve your tongues from causing any division.
I ask of you my beloved children, to preserve the Holy Baptism that was granted to you.
I ask of you my beloved children, preserve your body pure for the Lord.
I ask of you my beloved children, do not let your the light of your lamps to be extinquished.
I ask of you my beloved children, preserve the commandments that God gave to you.
I ask of you my beloved children, that the fear of God be within you.
God is my witness, my beloved children, that I did not keep any of God’s words from you…that I never sleep, my beloved children while there was blame between me and anyone of you.
If you keep what I have told you, you will crush the head of the serpent and dragon.
If you keep what I have said to you, you will eat of the goodness of the earth.
If you keep what I have said to you, the luminous Cherubim will guard you.
If you keep what I have said to you, you will never lack of the Heavenly gifts.
I ask of you my beloved children, to ask of Christ for my soul, that it may have comfort in front of Him, and do not count my short comings, unknowingly and unwillingly.
(Then he directs his talks to the Bishops, clergy and priests)
I ask for your love and I plead to your Reverence, to absolve me from you all.
And now, I am far from you and left you, and I cannot see your faces. And now I ask of you all, that you labor yourselves in prayers for me, and remember me in the Holy Liturgies, that my Master may accept me to Him, and forgive me.
And I ask Christ, the Great Shepherd of Shepherds, that He may elect for you a righteous shepherd according to His Will and heart, that He may shepherd you and your matters and watch over the salvation of your souls.
Pope Shenouda III
We will miss you Pope Shenouda.
We will always love you.
We will always remember you.
Fr. Abraam Georgy
Fr. Abraham Wassef
The Christ loving Congregation of St. Mina’s Coptic Orthodox Church of Holmdel NJ.