St. Mark, one of the seventy Apostles, introduced Christianity to Africa. He began his evangelism in his prior native country in North Africa, which is now known as Libya. It was logic for St. Mark to choose the responsibility to evangelize in this area, as he was himself an African.?? Africa is the "See of St. Mark"
H.H. Pope Shenouda III, is the 116th after St. Mark, in an unbroken succession . We grew up to learn that one of the titles of our patriarchs includes "All Africa".? We have a Metropolitan in Sudan and a daughter church in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian Church, not long ago had declared her independence, but a new African Patriarchate in Ereteria was established. Africa was always in the heart of the Coptic Church. Many of our bright young men found great interest in the Black Continent. In the forties a young law school graduate, once finished his university years, found his way to Ethiopia. He stayed there for two years serving the youth at Sunday schools, later he gave his life completely to serve his church. He worked a lot for Africa. He was the late Bishop Samuel.
Few years later another young surgeon followed the same path and served in Ethiopia, utilizing his profession as a surgeon, supplemented by serving as a Sunday school servant.? He later responded to a Divine call and became a monk.? Later he was given the responsibility of All Africa, as its Bishop.
It was almost an individual effort, but the fruits were great and H.G. Bishop Antonius Marcos became instrumental in establishing good and strong Coptic Churches in the different countries of Africa.
The blessings were great, that there was a need for more "Shepherds" to take care of the thirsty people in Africa who were looking for the Coptic Church for salvation.?? HG Bishop Paul, himself, also a physician, went to help Bishop Antonius Marcos in his field. The physician responded also to the Divine call and he is now serving in Africa.? He? is HG. Bishop Paul, Bishop of Mission Affairs and the Vice President of All Africa Conference of Churches.?? Bishop Antonius Marcos resides now in Johanesberg, South Africa, the seat of the Diocese.
Egypt itself is an African country and it is no surprise that its interest was always in the heart of every Copt. Many of us have left Egypt for the United States of America and other countries, but Africa was always in our thoughts. We met our honorable Coptic Bishops (HG. Bishop Antonius Marcos & HG. Bishop Paul), while visiting USA. Many of us were fascinated by what they heard from them, about the Africans who were seeking to know our Lord through our Coptic Church.??? Some of our youth in Southern California, taking advantages of the midyear scholar recession arranged for a trip to visit the new members of the Coptic Church in Africa.?? They came back with marvilous stories and observations.?? I, not a junior anymore, found a deep desire to go and see for myself what I heard from our sons and daughters.
I took advantage of the occasion of a pastoral visit by H.G. Bishop Serapion to Africa, including a visit to H. G. Bishop Paul and I asked to be there at that time.?
On November 26, 1998, we met in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya,? HG Bishop Paul and we received HG Bishop Serapion on his arrival. The journey's main aim was to visit the established Coptic Churches.? From the Coptic Center in Nairobi, we arrived to Kisoumo on Lake Victoria, after driving seven hours by car, a distance of about 600 kilometers.?? We visited the Coptic Monastery and the Coptic Center, which are located in Maseno, not far from it.?? The complex includes a church by the name of St. Mina, St. Takla Hemanote and a center for the servants. These are hostel, one for the young men and another for the girls.?? Each accommodates about 15 persons.? There are five Kenyan priests whose? responsible is serving seven other churches in its suburbs.
It was a breath taking scene, to see both the bishops, the priests and yhe church servants, celebrating the Holy Liturgy in an angelic atmosphere,? in English as well in local languages.
We left afterwards to Jinja, in Uganda. It is located on Lake Victoria.? It is hopeful that the church will buy four acres to build a church on it, by the name of St. Peter & St. Paul.?? I pray that the congregation at our church, St. Peter & St. Paul in Santa Monica, California will find an interest to adopt the newly proposed church.
We didn't miss the chance to visit the beautiful and tourist sites around the lake.
On November 28th, the two bishops visited the Church of The Virgin in Kisoumo and were received by her priest as well as the congregation,? with songs and drums, chanting? religious prayers, using some primitive musical instruments.? That was? a delightful evnt that filled our hearts with passion and love.?? Bishop Serapion gave his sermon in English, then replied to their questions.? the church priest made the translation.?? The bishops distributed gifts to the congregation before leaving tthe church.
On Sunday November 29th 1998, Both Bishop Serapion and Bishop Paul celebrated the Holy Eucharist, assisted by the Kenyan priests, in the Church of St. Mark and St. Moses in Alego.?? The service was conducted in their local language, "Lou".??? It was a great celebration where the African culture was at best.
Bishop Serapion listened to the people's request, asking for help to establish a medical clinic that would take care of their needs.
On November 30, 1990, HG Bishop Serapion visited some Coptic families in Nairobi, before leaving to Harare, capital of Zimbabwe to attend the World Church Council's General Assembly Meeting.
I returned back to Los Angeles, after stopping briefly in Cairo. I looked backwards and visualized how the Black Continent is eager to adopt the faith and? knowledge and? truly in need for help? from their brothers in the faith.