Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Remembering His Holiness Pope Shenouda III

On hearing of the passing of our beloved father, His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, on Saturday 17th March, there was much comfort in the fact that as the Coptic youth of the UK, we were gathered together at that moment in fellowship. The news came during the annual men’s basketball tournament at the Coptic Church Centre in Stevenage, and as one body, we halted the sports, moved to the Cathedral of St George and shared in prayer and remembrance of a wonderful man who touched each of our lives in a unique way.

One week later on Saturday 24th March 2012, another gathering was held in the Cathedral, again to pray and remember His Holiness, but this time the congregation that gathered consisted of clergy and believers from several of the Orthodox denominations, Catholic, Anglican, Evangelical and many other Churches across the UK and the rest of the world. There were also representation of Her Majesty, as well as organisations and groups that have had affiliations and dealings with the Coptic Church for many years, and everyone in attendance had come to pay their respects to a man whom they knew to be respected and loved the world over.

The procession was mournful but beautiful and rousing, as the sheer number of attendees became apparent. Approximately 400 people filled the Cathedral, and the atmosphere was one of respect and reverence, but at the same time emotive and celebratory of Pope Shenouda; our loss uniting us and bringing us closer. Once the memorial prayer service had been shared, a letter was read on behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury, offering his condolences and prayers, followed by HG Bishop Angaelos’ thoughts. His Grace spoke of His Holiness’ life and teachings, as well as His Holiness’ love for the Church, who are his children.

Later, refreshments were offered in the hall, giving all an opportunity to share their own stories and personal experiences of His Holiness in their lives. There was also a chance to sign the book of condolences, which will prove a historic collection of messages in the future.

We pray that the Lord reposes His Holiness’ soul, and that he continues to remember us in his prayers, which will undoubtedly be heard more clearly from where he is now.