The Egyptian Monks / Priests & Priests of the Mission of the Bishopric of African Affairs
Dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the monastery of Saint Samuel the Confessor is found in Mount Qalamoun, in the Upper Egyptian governorate of Al Minya, in the region of the Fayoum Oasis; the first monk to come to southern Africa from the Saint Samuel’s Monastery, was priest, Father Abd el Messeh el Samuely who arrived in Johannesburg in March 2005. He came with more than 20 years monastic learning and nearly three years African experience in east Africa, predominantly Kenya (2000-2002).
Visit of HG Bishop Tadros of Portsaid to South Africa
HG Bishop Tadros of Port Said accompanied HG Bishop A. Markos 2 June 2007 on a flight from Egypt to South Africa, for a prearranged one-week visit to the Mission.
Saturday evening, His Graces, the Bishops, prayed the Vespers prayers with the Coptic congregation at the Saint Mark Cathedral in Johannesburg; Sunday 3 June, His Graces prayed the Coptic liturgy in the same cathedral, and afterwards, visited a few Coptic families in their homes, as time allowed.
The Last Days of the Former First Lady of Ghana, Mrs Fathia Nkrumah
After HG Bishop A. Markos arrived in early May in Egypt, he tried to phone Fathia at her Maadi residence in Cairo. Instead of finding her, the phone was answered by Samia, Fathia’s daughter, who informed His Grace that her mother had been comatosed and hospitalized from a brain stroke since February. The Bishop arranged to meet Gamal Nkrumah, Fathia’s son, at the El Neel Badrawy Hospital, where she was being cared for; as the Bishop anointed Mrs Fathia with holy oil, he noticed that her medical condition was exceedingly poor.
Saint Mark and Samuel the Confessor Coptic Orthodox Monastery, South Africa
March 2007, the regular, monthly, South African priests’ meeting was conducted at a very beautiful, fertile farm in Klipfontein, northeast of Pretoria; friends named Tony and Stephanie Monroe invited us to spend two nights and three days retreat at their "Sanctuary Farm"; the environment was admired by everybody, and His Grace Bishop A. Markos’ heartfelt wishes and prayers of many years- to establish a Coptic monastery- started to come to light...
While driving in the Klipfontein vicinity, we noticed many “For Sale" signs, and made contact with the “Shalom Real Estate Agency”. From a Shalom agent, we learned that the available farming lands were divided into equal areas of 22 hectares, and a totally, undeveloped bushland had an estimated value of a half million South African Rand (ZAR) - ZAR500, 000 approximately equalled US$70,000. These lands’ owners were demanding a disproportionate ZAR 1.5-1.8 million (approx.US$210,000- US$250,000) if the slightest development had occurred.
Negotiations for many prospective lots resulted in a final offer of ZAR 1.3 million (approx. US$180,000), which we calculated to be still too high. Hence, we determined to keep the matter in continuous prayer as, from the beginning, it had always been in the hands of our Lord, God and Saviour Jesus Christ.
May 1, following a call from Ms Babsie - the real estate agent- our Lord’s will towards this project started to become more visible. She was a Christian woman, who had visited Egypt previously, gaining an appreciation of ancient Coptic Christianity and Egyptian monastic life. She informed us that: a suitable property was under Standard Bank’s liquidation, as its owner had died in a car accident in January 2007; each of the owner’s designated, seven heirs had agreed that they were satisfied to receive ZAR 100,000 each; the bank was willing to accept a serious offer from any respectable organization; through God’s provision the proposed sale was at half the normal price and a purchase price of ZAR 700,000 (approx US$100,000) was “not to be missed”.
May 5, Bishop Markos and Fr Abd El Messeh went to inspect the property, only to be convinced that it was the best of all that they had already inspected in the entire locale. It was flat, rockless and fully fenced and gated, cornering two main roads. There were two small houses with two stores, two boreholes of 150 metres depth and a three phase, electric power line.
That Saturday afternoon, we signed an offer in Babsie’s residence in Cullinan, reiterating our commitment to our Lord’s hands’ completion.
During the Cairo, Holy Synod of Pentecost 2007, His Grace received confirmation of the bank’s acceptance of the Coptic Orthodox Church’s offer. The final agreement should have been signed with 10% of the full price payable within a few weeks.
Trusting that "our Lord’s disciples will never lack anything which they need" (Luke 22:35), and His injunction to: "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7), Bishop Markos put this sudden need in fervent prayer.
While wondering how to secure approximately US$100,000 to meet the complete agreement, His Grace communicated with charitable Christians in Egypt, who had historically been supportive of the African service’s requisites in critical times. A person from Cairo- author of a small volume on the blessings of tithing- accepted the Bishop’s request for an appointment, welcoming him without delay and even offering to send transport. Within a few hours, this faithful man was face to face in his office with His Grace, who explained the circumstances of his unexpected need towards a holy and noble purpose- establishing a monastic order in South Africa- that would cost approximately US$.35 for every square metre of a total 200,000 square metres.
The Bishop could feel how this fellow Christian was touched by the concept of the whole project, and that he was receptive to the evident Lord’s work in already preparing a suitable venue at half the local market value. The man left the room, and His Grace could see him walking around outside, apparently lifting his heart in prayer, seeking inspiration. He then returned, asking His Grace to write down full bank details on a blank page he gave him.
The Bishop praised God for what He had orchestrated with this meeting, and extended his sincere appreciation to this blessed man for his continuous support for expansion of the Kingdom of God with the efforts of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Africa.
Written Oration For The Funeral Of The Late Fathia Nkrumah
May Our Lord Repose Her Spirit
The Holy Bible is describing, for us, the heart of such a great lady of Africa for whom we are gathered today; Fathia resembles her Biblical mother, Ruth, who, seeing that the afflicted Naomi was in need of support and help, said in a determined way with a very noble heart: "Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me."(Ruth 1:16-17)