Alexandria, 27 January 2014

On the evening of Sunday 19 January 2014, His Beatitude Gregorios III (Laham), Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, of Alexandria and of Jerusalem, celebrated the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Cathedral of the Dormition of the Mother of God in Alexandria. He was accompanied by his auxiliaries, Archbishop George Bakar, protosynkellos of Egypt, Sudan and South Sudan and Archbishop Joseph Jules Zerey, protosynkellos of Jerusalem, as well as several priests.  

Built by George Tawil from Damascus, the cathedral was officially inaugurated on 28 February 1864, in the time of Patriarch Clement Bahouth.  
 
George Peter Tawil was born in Damascus in 1794, and belonged to a keen Greek Catholic family who had given the Church an honoured Patriarch, Makarios IV Tawil B.S. (1813-1815).
Arriving in Alexandria, he worked in trade and his businesses were very successful and expanded. He had the cathedral built, simply writing on his photo that is kept there, “O God, if the highest heavens cannot contain thee, how can this dwelling do so? But as thou art merciful, deign to accept this handiwork and hear the supplications of thy servant and have mercy upon me in thy great compassion.”

A large number of priests, monks and nuns serving in Alexandria, attended this celebration: Jesuit fathers, Franciscan friars, Lazarist fathers, Brothers of Christian Schools, Sisters of Charity, Besançon Sisters of Charity, Sisters of the Mother of God, Saint Charles’ Sisters, Franciscan Sisters, Missionaries of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Franciscan Sisters of Christ the King,  Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, Divine Providence Sisters, Mother Teresa of Calcutta’s Missionaries of Charity, besides priests of the Coptic Catholic Church headed by their patriarchal vicar Father Antonios Ghattas, and a representative of the Greek Orthodox Church. 

During the celebration of the jubilee Patriarch Gregorios III bestowed the Patriarchal Cross of Jerusalem on several distinguished Melkite Greek Catholics who had served in the fields of education and training, social, charitable and medical work, namely:

-    Jesuit Father Henry Bulad, on the occasion of fiftieth anniversary of his priestly ordination
-    Archimandrite Samir Saadeh, priest-in-charge of the Church of the Immaculate Virgin of Alexandria and head of the Patriarchal College of Alexandria on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of his priestly ordination
-    Mother Pauline Massoh, head of the convent and school of Saint Joan Antida for the Besançon Sisters of Charity in Alexandria.  
-    Sister Simone Abdel Malek, head of the convent of Saint Antony of the Saint Vincent de Paul Sisters of Charity
-    Brother George Absi, head of the Christian Brothers’ schools in Egypt
-    Ms Mary Gargeura, general secretary of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church’s Welfare Association of the in Alexandria
-    Dr Nagui Shuha, deputy general secretary of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church’s Welfare Association in Alexandria
-    Dr Christian Gawish, member of several charitable and social associations
-    Dr Nabil Khalil, warden of the Church of Mary Immaculate in Alexandria and head of the family centre in Ibrahimya.
-    Dr Gabour Mahanna, a well-known surgeon in Alexandria
-    Mr Edward Fakahany, head of the patriarchate’s office in Alexandria.

More than three hundred persons attended the celebration of this Divine Liturgy, among whom were the Consul General of Lebanon, Mr Osama Khashab and the Consul General of Palestine, Mr Mahmud Al Asadi. The service was sung by the choir of the Cathedral of the Dormition, conducted by Mr Yussef Sassin.

After a brief outline of the story of the cathedral from Archimandrite Yussef Andrawos, His Beatitude gave a sermon on Theophany, stating that the presence, charitable works and associations of Alexandria’s Christians are a living presence and manifestation of Christ. He also emphasised that the Virgin also appeared near this church during the miracle of the healing of Blessed Mary of Jesus Crucified. Finally, he spoke of the new Egyptian constitution that he values and finds that it is the beginning of a real Arab spring.

Later, Patriarch Gregorios, accompanied by Archimandrite Yussef Andrawos, patriarchal vicar of Alexandria and Father Zaher Mhanna, visited the Governor of Alexandria, Mr Tarek Mehdi. This visit, during which they discussed the new constitution and Egyptian national unity, was followed by an interview with His Beatitude on Alexandrian television.

Notes by Father Mario Hanna Georges, Alexandria
Translation from French V.C.


Teachings of Christ

“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:31-32 ESV)

Saint Nicholas of Myra

The truth of your deeds has revealed you to your flock, * as a rule of faith, an image of meekness, and a teacher of abstinence. * Therefore, you attained the heights through humility, * and riches through poverty. * O Father and Hierarch Nicholas, * pray to Christ God that our souls may be saved. (Troparion, Tone 4)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

In Myra, You were shown to be a servant of the sacred things, O Holy Nicholas, * for, fulfilling the Gospel of Christ, you, O Venerable, laid down your life for your people, * and saved the innocent from death. * Therefore, you were sanctified as a great initiate of the grace of God. (Kontakion, Tone 3)

Random Proverb

For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. (Proverbs 2:6 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

Faith and love which are gifts of the Holy Spirit are such great and powerful means that a person who has them can easily, and with joy and consolation, go the way Jesus Christ went. Besides this, the Holy Spirit gives man the power to resist the delusions of the world so that although he makes use of earthly good, yet he uses them as a temporary visitor, without attaching his heart to them. But a man who has not got the Holy Spirit, despite all his learning and prudence, is always more or less a slave and worshipper of the world.

St. Innocent of Irkutsk, Indication of the Way into the Kingdom of Heaven.