St Paul’s Cathedral will transform into a sea of red on Monday 19 December, as the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Melbourne community, politicians, community leaders and supporters don red clothing to honour the 24 Cairo martyrs killed by an ISIL bomb blast and to pray for the 49 injured Copts.
The Memorial Service for the Cairo Martyrs is an opportunity for the Melbourne Copts, and supporters, to come together in a spirit of unity to honour those who lost their lives at St Peter’s Church, Cairo and to comfort those who have been left behind with broken hearts.
His Grace Bishop Suriel, the leader of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Melbourne, will deliver a moving reflection during the ceremony. His Grace was present in Cairo during the attack, visited St Peter’s Church in the aftermath of the bombing and was horrified by the destruction which the bomb had caused to the church; and the senseless loss of so many innocent lives. The sacred site was blood stained with scattered human parts, interspersed with ransacked pews, chipped crosses and a gaping roofline.
Bishop Suriejl was filled with grief as he visited victims wounded by the bomb in hospital, and sought to provide comfort to families at the Egyptian state funeral held for the martyrs. His posts of the experience on social media, struggled to find the right words and images to convey unimaginable human suffering. He also captured video footage with interviews of the victims and their families, which will be released as a documentary.
Bishop Suriel said the story of the Copts being violated by ISIL in a Cairo Church is one that needs to be told, within a larger context of minority Christian groups being targeted, particularly in the Middle East.
Federal Member of Parliament for Wills, Mr Peter Khalil, is of Coptic heritage, and has also asserted that the plight of the Copts, and their basic human rights and safety, need to be recognised as an urgent priority.
“We are calling on the Australian Government to partner more closely with the Egyptian Government in a bid to stamp out terrorism, for the Egyptian Government to enhance security around places of worship, particularly vulnerable churches around Egypt, and to denounce any culture of fear and intimidation being inflicted upon Christians in the Middle East,” Mr Khalil said.
“This pattern of Coptic churches being raised, people being violently attacked, and a litany of assaults on religious freedom and basic human rights, needs to cease immediately. Instead, a new strategic vision for peaceful relations, religious tolerance and educational awareness must be canvassed as a political priority.”
Media are invited to attend the following interview and photographic opportunities:
A PRESS CONFERENCE WITH BISHOP SURIEL AND MR PETER KHALIL
On: Monday 19 December 2016, 2pm-3pm
At: St Paul’s Cathedral, corner of Flinders Street and Swanston Street in the Barbara Darling Room
Enter on Flinders Street via the Cathedral Car Park and follow signs to the Church Offices.
THE MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR THE CAIRO MARTYRS
On: Monday 19 December 2016, 6pm-7.30pm
At: St Paul’s Cathedral, corner of Flinders Street and Swanston Street
For media inquiries, please contact Maggie Trainor on 0438 824 123 or [email protected]
St Athanasius College
St Athanasius College (SAC) is a theological college specialising in the Coptic Orthodox faith and catering for both local and internatioanl students through our in-class and online study modes. SAC was founded by His Grace Bishop Dr Suriel in 1999. In 2011 SAC was accredited as a Recognised Teaching Institution of the University of Divinity. This paved the way to offer a Diploma and Advanced Diploma in Theology. SAC will soon offer a raft of post graduate courses to respond to our current rapid growth trajectory.
M: 0438 824 123