Bishop Samuel

Saad Aziz Ibrahim was born in Cairo im 1921. His father Mr. Aziz Ibrahim worked for Ministry of Finance. Saad was the eldest of his two brothers, Mounir and Maurice. After attending "Al Tawfiqia Secondary School" he was admitted to the Faculty of Law at Cairo University. When he graduated he was unable to obtain a license to practice as a lawyer as he was still a minor, 19 years old!. The required age was 21. His father passed away while he was still in the university. His mother was a very religious lady who raised her family in a truly Christian sense. Her home was open day and night for the poor and she also welcomed her son’s friends from the Sunday school, who found in her home a place to meet and pray.She was considered a mother to all of them. Among these friends was Zarif Abdulla, a student at the Faculty of Engineering , Cairo University who was a pioneer and a leader. Zarif later became Fr. Paulis Paulis at a church in Damanhur. He became the first university graduate to be ordained a priest. He was followed later by many. Waheeb Salib Sorial who practiced law, was ordained,as Fr. Salib Sorial a priest at St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church in Giza.

 

After graduation Saad was unable to practice law because was a minor, only 19 years old, so he took a job at the National Bank of Egypt. But he didn’t stay long as his commitment to serve the Lord was his main goal. With his job, he couldn’t have enough time for his Sunday school activities, so he quitted that job. Instead he enrolled at the American University in Cairo and graduated with a Bachelor Degree in Social Science. By the time he reached twenty one and became eligible to be a lawyer, he changed his mind and traveled to Ethiopia to establish Sunday schools there among the villagers. He was encouraged by his professor at AUC who, years later, became the Under Secretary of the State Department in Washington.

Living for two years in Addis Ababa he got acquainted to the emperor who regularly saw him. He was also well liked by the Coptic Metropolitan in Addis Ababa. When he returned to Cairo, he attended the Clerical College. One day his family learned that he was ordained a monk by Fr. Mina El Mutawahed, who later became Pope Kyrillos, 116th Patriarch of the Coptic Church. He was given the name "Makary El Syriany" after the monastery where he stayed at.

The World Council of Churches invited, for the first time, the Coptic Church to attend its meeting in New York and Pope Yusab chose Father Makary El Syriany with Professor Dr. Aziz Sorial Attia and Fr. Salib Sorial to represent the Coptic Church in New York. Their trip to The United States of America was a success, that the Egyptian ambassador to Washington reported that their visit to the States did for Egypt more than what the Egyptian Government did in years.At the New York airport, the Egyptian ambassador went to show them off on their return to Egypt and while in their company, they were met by chance with Fr. Makary’s previous professor. The ambassador asked him for a spontanous grant Fr. Makary to continue his studied in USA. It was like a fiction that the professor through a talephone call from the airport accomplished it. Dr. Aziz Sorial Attia and Fr. Salib left without Fr. Makary who pressured him to stay and guaranteed the Church approval. Fr. Makary was driven the same night to Princeton University and stayed there till he got his Master Degree in Sociology.

When Fr. Mina El Mutawahed was enthrone the 116th Patriarch of Saint Mark See, the new patriarch chose Fr. Makary to be his secretary. It wasn't too long, before he was elevated to become The Bishop for Ecumenical and Social Affairs and became known as Bishop Samuel.

History witnessed his dynamic personality working hard for the Church and the Copts. He was able to solve many problems between the church and the government. and exercised his role as an ecumenical bishop and became well known in Egypt and abroad. The nature of his newly designed office, made him very visible, while serving his church in humbleness and sincerity. On his numerous trips to Europe and the USA, he visited the Egyptian families and look after their needs. He used to conduct the Holy Liturgy in their homes at a time when there were no Coptic churches there. In 1963 the first Eucharist was celebrated for the first time ever in England, the home of the writer of this page, and many Copts attended and shared the service.

He created many projects to help the poor in Egypt, one of them was so successful that years later Egypt received the UN Award for it, the "Trash Collector Project" that changed many lives of miserable people and made them to feel proud and successful. Through his contacts he was able to get for them the necessary funds needed to build training centers and schools. In his plans was to build an up to date hospital with the state of the art, an ultra modern medical facility for the Coptic clergy but unfortunately this day never came. The Canadian Government was willing to contribute three dollars for each dollar collected for the project from the public.

He was instrumental in executing the idea of establishing Coptic Churches in the United States and Canada. He got them the blessed approval of Pope Kyrillos approval for the Coptic immigrants in America and Canada. That opened the way to the Coptic Church to expand tremendously during the Papacy of Pope Shenouda III in he number of the churches that were established outside Egypt.

On the eve of the historic journey of President Sadat to Jerusalem to address the Israeli Keneset, he was asked to provide verses from the Old Testament that would be appropriate for the occasion, that he stayed all night gathering the verses.

When Pope Shenouda III became patriarch, the relation between President Sadat and the Patriarchate became sour after a relatively short period after Pope Shenouda was enthroned. Sadat considered some of his demands a challenge to the president. Father Matta El Miskeen in an interview in the Egyptian weekly Rosa El Youssef gave a detailed statement about how things went bad that he was convinced that Sadat was about to get rid of the Pope one way or the other. Fr. Matta said that through his real fear, it was arranged that Pope Shenouda would be confined in the monastery and the church would be supervised by five bishops till things calm down. The church was hit hard by Sadat’s decision and action and at the same time arrested several bishops, priests and laymen. Sadat falsely accused the Patriarch that he was plotting about the security of Egypt and was planning to divide Egypt into two states, one for the Muslims and the other for the Copts. It was obvious that he created such a lie to rally and to gain public support and to give an acceptable excuse to hit hard on the Muslim religion groups who turned against him at that time.

The Papacy was temporary transferred to what was called the Committee of Five, a temporary caretaker body with the approval of the Holy Synod. Bishop Samuel was appointed to head this committee. The interview of Fr. Matta El Miskeen put to rest the false assumption that there was a plot from within the church to remove the Patriarch. The fact that Bishop Samuel took the highest vote in the election for the seat of patriarch in 1981 and the appointment of Pope Shenouda III by the "Alter Lottery" was used to undermine the relation between Pope Shenouda III and Bishop Samuel who accepted the procedure cordially with Christian love and obedience to the elevated Patriarch.

Bishop Samuel was killed as he was representing his faith. He was on the main stage beside Sadat who was inspecting army troops. He left a will which was published publicly that any funds under his name, in any bank was the property of the Coptic Church and no one in his family was entitled to it. He used to receive funds from many foundations in Europe for his projects in Cairo. In his will he asked to be buried in the company of the late Pope Kyrillos at the St. Mena Monastery, but this was unfortunately not done "yet".

When Bishop Samuel elevated to the Episcopal rank in September 1962 by Pope Kyrillos (Cyril VI ). He went beyond the higher echelons of the Coptic society to the poorest lines in the slums including garbage collectors. These were awaken to the comprehension of their faith and consequently established their own humble churches such as Kaniset Al Zabbalin. He threw his weight of his influence beyond the frontiers of the Clerical College into higher education in Coptology. He was the main supporter to the Higher Institute of The Coptic Studies beside Dr. Aziz Attia. He elevated the status of the Coptic Church from the local scene to the international stageand since 1954 he began to emerge through the World Council of Churches as an active figure in the inter demonical relations. Elected as a member of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches and the Secretary General of the African Churches. He never uttered an evil word against anyone. He never refrained to represent his church at the risk of his life and he gave his life and earning the crown of martyrdom for his faith.

 

THE TIMES OF LONDON

MONDAY OCT 12 1981

IMPORTANT ROLE IN THE REVIVAL OF THE COPTIC CHURCH

Bishop Samuel of the Coptic Orthodox Church was among those killed with president Sadat on October 6. He was 60. Born in Cairo on December 8, 1920.Samuel was a major figure in the Coptic revival and the first monk to study overseas (at Princeton). He strove to end the isolation of his church had suffered since the schisms of the fifth century. Since 1954 he had been an energetic member of the World Council of Churches' Central Committee. He had been chairman of the Middle East Council of Churches.In 1962 he became Bishop of Social Services", responsible for Copts in Europe and North America, where he founded many churches. In 1971 he secured most votes in the papal election for a successor to Pope Kyrillos VI, the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch but traditionally the final choice was made by drawing lots, and it fell to another. In September 1981, Bishop Samuel became the leading member of the committee of five set up to run the Church. It was a thankless task, given the resentment felt by many Copts. But he addressed the challenge of reconciliation with characteristic determination. A small bustling man, with a big heart, he will be missed by Christians in many parts of the world; the loss of his wisdom and political skill will be more desperately felt by Egypt's five million Copts.

 

Watani International

October 7, 2001

11 September and 6 October:

The New Abel in Egypt and America

A Tribute to Bishop Samuel (1920-1981)

By

Dr. Saad Michael Saad, Los Angeles

Senior Editor

 

For Egypt and America, now and forever, 11 September and 6 October have both become days of war and peace, reconciliation and enmity, grace and wickedness, martyrdom and murder, manifestation of most noble humanity and darkest evil spirit.

11 September is the Feast of the Martyrs, celebrated by Egypt's indigenous Christians, the Copts, since the fourth century, and now by the Coptic Church worldwide. It is also the Coptic New Year according to the Calendar of the Martyrs, Anno Martyrum, which starts at the year 284 AD, the enthronement of Emperor Diocletian, the most vicious persecutor of Christians.6 October is a day of national pride and celebration in Egypt. On 6 October 1973, the Egyptian armies made history by crossing the Suez Canal and seizing the Bar-Lev Line in Sinai. The heroic military operation succeeded in liberating part of the homeland from foreign occupation that had lasted six years. The state of war between Egypt and Israel ended by a "Framework for Peace" signed by the two nations in Camp David USA on 17 September 1978.But envy and other evils brought grief and darkness to the glorious day of 11 September. Evil minds abused the beauty of technology and architecture to kill about 7000 persons from 62 countries and almost every religion on earth. This destruction proved that America, the breadbasket that feeds much of the world and "the land of opportunity," could also be "a land of opportunity to do evil."

Similarly, on 6 October 1981, President Sadat of Egypt, the visionary leader of the 1973 victory and the shrewd co-author of the 1979 peace accord, was assassinated by the same terrorist party that he released from prison in 1971 to combat his socialist opponents. Even more ironic is that one of Sadat's assassins became the suspected chief architect of the 11 September tragedy in the USA. Also ironical is the fact that the financiers, planners and trainers of this and earlier tragedies came from the ranks of al-Mugahidine, whom America supported during the 1980s to combat her communist enemies in Afghanistan.

 

The Martyria of Bishop Samuel

A man full of grace, Anba Samuel (1920-1981), the Coptic Bishop of Social and Ecumenical Services, was killed together with Sadat. Anba Samuel was representing the Coptic Church in the 6 October victory celebration. Along with other dignitaries, he was on the viewing stand of the military parade. We may never know if he was killed intentionally or by stray fire. But, judging by the many bullets in his body, the safety of all around him, the hate campaign against Coptic clergy triggered earlier, and the hundreds of Christian Copts killed by terrorists in Egypt since then, it is highly probable that Bishop Samuel was singled out by the assassins. By God, however, he was called to give witness (Martyria in Coptic and Greek) by blood on that day.

 

The New Abel in Egypt and America

The dove of peace, the gracious Bishop Samuel, is the modern representation of the righteous Abel killed by his older brother Cain. Both were innocent victims of evil. During their lifetimes, both raised offerings and sacrifices that were accepted by God. At their death, their souls and bodies became a living sacrifice, holy and again acceptable to God (Romans 12:1). Both left the world with a spiritual message written by their blood, witnessing against the cruelty of brothers and the failure of humanity. These messages are still resounding in heaven as St. Paul declares of Abel, "he died, but through his faith he is still speaking- Heb 11:4." Finally, both men had their shed blood crying in the wilderness and to the highest of all heavens as God spoke to Cain, "The voice of your brother's blood cries out to Me from the ground- Gen. 4:10." These parallels between the Martyria of the righteous Abel and H.G. Anba Samuel can be applied with variations, to the thousands of innocent victims of the 11 September tragedy in America. And to Adel Sarkis Karas, the Copt who was killed in Los Angeles in a hate crime connected to the national tragedy. We trust that through the witness of their blood, the world's conscience will be awakened to conquer evil by good, and that people of all faiths and nationalities will unite in their commitment to cherish and respect our common humanity and the sanctity of life.

 

 

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