daniel nour

Martyrs in Coptic hearts at Good Friday liturgy

In Community, Religion on April 12, 2015 at 7:40 am

Published in the 12/4/2915 edition of the Catholic Weekly.

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It was with joy and sorrow that Father Youssef Akladious prayed Good Friday’s liturgy at St Mark’s Coptic Catholic parish.

In his homily he spoke of forgiveness, and of hatred. Two relevant themes for Egypt’s Christians this Easter.

Of the 21 young Coptic men murdered by ISIS in Libya, he explained,

“Whenever there is great injustice, the choice to forgive is even greater and more wonderful.”

The ISIS victims, who in February were canonised by Pope Tawadrous, head of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Community, have deeply affected Egypt’s Christians.

“Real forgiveness can even be offered to our enemies,” Father Akladious said.

“I saw great stillness in them at the moment of their deaths, they were surely praying,

As a priest, they made me ask myself, would I do the same? Would I die for Christ?” he said.

Moheb Salama, Youth coordinator at St Marks, confirmed that persecution isn’t a new phenomenon for Copts.

“Christians in Egypt have the strongest faith in the Middle East, probably the world.  Their faith increases in proportion to their number of persecutions.”

“I thought, ‘These people know they’re about to be slaughtered, they’re seconds away.’  I looked at my own life, and my own issues, and they were all minor by comparison.”

Equal rights and political protections for Copts have not yet been achieved in Egypt, where civil liberties are generally uncertain.

“The reality in Egypt is that there are safety and stability issues for both Muslims and Christians. We have an improvement to make in regards to the fair execution of the rule of law, and this will take years to achieve…” Father Akladious said.

Last week’s Muslim protest attacks, against villagers in Upper Egypt’s Al-Minya province, confirms this lack of security and protection for Egypt’s Christians. The villagers proposed to build a church to commemorate the 21 martyrs.

Joy and suffering for Coptic Christians

In Community, Political on February 25, 2015 at 11:51 am

Mideast Egypt Islamic StateThe Coptic Church has certainly undergone great suffering recently, with the murder of the 21 young men from Al-Minya province, being broadcasted and discussed widely. 

However, less known to the public has been the recent construction of the first Coptic-Catholic Church in the Sinai.

The Coptic Catholic church, which has only existed in Egypt since the 1700’s, has less than 200 000 members and its parishioners mainly live in Upper Egypt, according to a report by the Catholic Near East Welfare Association.

“This is a great day of joy for Catholics in Egypt,” the local ordinary, Coptic Catholic Bishop Makarios Tewfik of Ismailia, said at the consecration ceremony, according to a report by Aid to the Church in Need.???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

The Lebanese Catholic Community in Sydney

In Community on February 4, 2015 at 7:23 am

St Charbel’s church, a parish community of Maronite Catholics in Sydney, Australia, recently hosted a conference for a group of its young people. The event centred around themes of purpose and hope.

Shortly after the camp, a twenty year old statue of the Virgin Mary was attacked at St Charbel’s church, creating a spirit of unease in the same community.

Virgin Mary statue vandalised at St Charbel's parish

Virgin Mary statue vandalised at St Charbel’s parish. Courtesy of NewsLocal

St Charbel’s has been a hub of community life for Lebanese Catholics for many years. It was featured in the SBS television programme, “Once upon a time in Punchbowl,” and witnessed some of the tensions that, throughout the nineties, made Punchbowl a byword for Lebanese gang crime. Last year it hosted an enormous procession of Eastern and Western Christians in a rare Easter celebration.

My article in the Canterbury Bankstown Express captures the great and worthwhile contribution of the parish to community life, and of its work for local young people.

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