Diocesan Chancellor participates in a Memorial Service for Pope Shenounda III
On Sunday, March 18, 2012, a memorial service for His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, was held at St. Mary's & St. Antony's Coptic Orthodox Church, Ridgewood, New York.
Rev. Fr. Thomas Paul, Chancellor of the Northeast American Diocese, participated in the memorial service and spoke on the occasion, representing the Diocesan Metropolitan.
The following is the transcript of the speech spoken by Rev. Fr. Thomas Paul at the memorial service:
Reverend Fathers, Deacons, Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
Today is a day all Christians in the world, express our solidarity with the faithful Christians in Egypt, and join you as you mourn the physical loss of a great spiritual leader, His Holiness Pope Shenouda III.
I am Fr. Thomas Paul, Chancellor of the Northeast American Diocese of the Indian Orthodox Church, and the Vicar of St. Basil's Orthodox Church Franklin Square, New York.
When reflecting upon the life of His Holiness, I remember the great blessing I had in visiting him and interacting him during my visit to Egypt in 2007. I had the unique and rare privilege to speak with him and receive his blessing. His hospitality was remarkable. Upon coming to know that I am a priest of the Indian Orthodox Church, a sister Church of the Coptic Orthodox Church, His Holiness was so kind in offering me a car, driver, and interpreter for the rest of my stay in Egypt.
As I continued to learn more about how the persecution and suffering of the Coptic Orthodox Christians, I am amazed at the strong leadership and boldness of Pope Shenouda in the midst of persecution.
We, Christians in India do not know about persecution, because we have a very strong religious harmony, and all religions co-exist in a very good relationship. However, we are well aware that this is not the case in Egypt. We see in the news all the time that our brothers and sister in Egypt have to worship in fear. In the midst of their worship, miscreants burn their churches, and kill many, and, yet no action, no justice from the authorities!
Yet, Pope Shenouda was able to maintain the holy flock entrusted to his spiritual care, with the Grace of God. He was a monk, a great leader, a mentor, a visionary and he was a wonderful spiritual father.
We, Indian Orthodox Christians, have a very good relationship with the Coptic Orthodox Church. When we have the same Holy Orthodox Faith, we cannot be strangers. My brothers and sisters we pray for you, we mourn with you.
On behalf of our Diocesan Metropolitan,His Grace Zachariah Mar Nicholovoss, who is in India participating in the meeting of the Holy Synod, all the faithful of the Northeast American Diocese of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, and on behalf of my parish, I convey our prayers and condolence, and express our solidarity to our sister Church, the Coptic Orthodox Church at this time of loss.
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