Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

Australia Day 2016 provides a special opportunity to pause and give thanks.

All Australians are in the privileged position of being able to live, work and thrive in a prosperous country which promotes cultural diversity, democratic values and religious freedom.

The Melbourne Coptic Orthodox Church community, a persecuted Christian minority from the Middle East, have gratefully sought refuge, peace and new dreams in this vast Australian continent.

The first Coptic priest arrived in Australia in 1969 and celebrated the first Divine Liturgy on 26 January. We have come a long way since Australia Day 1969, with growth of the Coptic community encapsulating new parishes, educational and aged care facilities. And we are preparing to celebrate 50 years of Coptic history in Australia in 2019.

Our Coptic people, mainly Egyptian migrants, have been overwhelmed by the heartfelt welcome received, sincere friendships forged and the new opportunities offered by this Great Southern Land.

Given the warm reception the Melbourne Coptic community has received from our Australian hosts, it is inherent that we give back to the Australian people in a spirit of charity, and this is being tangibly achieved through our Eporo Tower project based in the Melbourne CBD.

Eporo Tower, currently under construction in La Trobe Street, will be a community facility which integrates religious, educational and retail facilities, including a Coptic Cultural Centre. It will serve to convey a rich Coptic history, theology and artistic tradition with fellow Melbournians and visitors to the city.

Eporo will provide a dynamic streetscape to La Trobe Street, etching a new vista of ancient Egyptian beauty into the architectural heritage and life of a modern city. The building, due to completed in early 2017, will showcase larger-than-life arched stained glass windows on the building façade and bespoke artistic interiors including Coptic furniture woodcarvings, a 15 metre mosaic and painted iconography.

Eporo is a work of the Coptic Orthodox Church that will serve as a unique cultural gift to the broader Australian community in a myriad of ways. We look forward to sharing our story, talents and resources through partnerships of good will with local schools, universities, artists, historians, churches, businesses and cultural groups.

I wish you all a safe, blessed and relaxed Australia Day with your loved ones, as we acknowledge the good fortune of living in such a wonderful city and homeland.

For further information, please contact: Maggie Trainor SACOTC Marketing T: 0438 824 123 E: [email protected] Bishop Anba Suriel will be available for a press interview or photographic opportunity on Tuesday 26 January between 8am and 9am.

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