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

“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." (Matthew 6:33 ESV)

Pentecost

Blessed are You, O Christ our God, * Who has shown the fishermen to be all wise, * by sending down to them the Holy Spirit, * and through them You have caught the whole world in Your net. * O Lover of Mankind, glory to You. (Troparion - Tone 8)

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

When the Most High descended, confusing tongues, * He divided the nations; * but when He distributed the tongues of fire, * He called all to unity; * and, with one voice, * we glorify the Most Holy Spirit. (Kontakion - Tone 8)

Random Proverb

Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine. (Proverbs 3:9,10 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

[The Lord] is always knocking at the doors of our hearts, that we may open to Him, that He may enter in and rest in Our souls, and we may wash and anoint His feet, and He may make His abode with us. The Lord in that passage reproaches the man who did not wash His feet (Luke 7:44); and again He says elsewhere, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock, if any man will open unto Me, I shall come in unto him" (Rev. 3:20). To this end He endured to suffer many things, giving His own body unto death, and purchasing us out of bondage, in order that He might come to our soul and make His abode with it.. ..His food and His drink, His clothing and shelter and rest is in our souls. Therefore He is always knocking, desiring to enter into us.. Let us then receive Him, and bring Him within ourselves; because He is our food and our drink and our eternal life, and every soul that has not now received Him within and given Him rest, or rather found rest in Him, has no inheritance in the kingdom of heaven with the saints, and cannot enter into the heavenly city.. But Thou, Lord Jesus Christ, bring us thereunto, glorifying Thy name, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, for ever. Amen

St Macarius the Great