Father Salib Sorial

Waheeb Zaki Salib graduated from Cairo University and became a lawyer. He practiced law in his own office at 12 Saad Zaghlool St. in Giza and did well in his practice. He stayed active in serving Sunday School. He was one of the pioneers and one of the first leading personalities of the time, serving with Zarif Abdulla, and Saad Aziz Ibrahim. They vowed to give themselves to the church. Zarif Abdulla was an engineer, who worked for the American comany, Standard Oil, surveying the deserts of Egypt looking for oil. Saad Aziz Ibrahim, after receiving his law degree from Cairo University was unable to register as a lawyer, as he was under age, less than 21 year the minimum age to be able to practice law.

 

In 1948, the three answered the call to serve the Lord. Zarif was ordained a priest at Damanhur and Waheeb as ordained at St. Mark Church in Giza, while Saab was ordained a monk. Zarif Abdulla became Father Boules Boules of Damanhour, Waheeb became Fr. Salib in Giza and Saad became known as Fr. Makary El Syriany then later as Bishop Samuel, the Bishop of The Social and Ecumenical Services in Cairo.

The Coptic community in Giza adored and loved Fr. Salib. He was their servant, but they looked at him as their master. He earned their respect, that he really deserved.

He represented the Coptic Church at The World Council of Churches in Chicago. Illinois, USA in 1954, in a delegation which was headed by Fr. Makary El Syriany and included also the world renowned Professor Dr. Aziz Sorial Attiya. It is interesting to point out that this was the first time for the Coptic Church to be in an International Ecumenical Gathering since the meeting of the Council of Nicea.

He became the Professor of Law in the Theological Coptic College in Cairo. On a visit to Rome he was granted a private audience with His Holiness the Pope of Rome, an honor strictly granted to the heads of churches or bishops. In this meeting H.H. told Father Salib that he believed, Pope Kyrillos VI was a true man of God.

It is interesting to know that he was born on February 6, 1916 in Tukh El Nasara , known now as Tukh Delka where Pope Kyrillos VI was baptized. His father was a wealthy jeweler but lost his fortune after he guaranteed a loan for a Muslim friend whose business later failed and wasn't able to repay the loam.

One of his deepest convictions was the important role of Sunday Schools in the church and he succeeded in establishing an office for a General Secretary for the Sunday Organization at the church and the appointment of Eng. Sammy Amin, (later became Fr. Antonius Amin of St Mark Church, Heliopolis, Cairo) for that post.

After his departure, Fr. Salib's memoirs, which he wrote earlier, at the request of many, were published by St. Mark Church in Giza, the church he loved and served along the years, in a series of books called, "He being dead, yet spoke" [Hebrew 11:4]. In his memoirs he referred to the past with great honesty to some events and about the role he had in establishing Coptic Churches in Germany. Some of these events were only known to his inner circle and are worth to mention some here of them here.

Anba Abram, Metropolitan of Giza was the one who had asked him to serve at the St. Mark Church as a priest and he accepted the call without hesitation as he knew that his parents vowed that he would serve the Lord. He considered it as a direct invitation from God. He also signed a statement, a commitment certificate at the request of Anba Abram that neither the diocese nor the metropolitan were responsible for any financial monetary support nor paying him a salary! He told the metropolitan openly that he would be working only for God Who will support him. All his life he never accepted money from a parishioner for any religious service. He was determined to cancel the "plate" collection offerings at the church, but was overruled by Archdeacon Habib Guirgis who insisted that this was traditional since the days of the Apostles.

He was instrumental in relocating the Clerical College from its old place in "Mahmasha" to the modern brand new building at Anba Ruewes. He found out that the government was about to take the building legally in favor of the Faculty of Medicine of Ein Shams [El-Demerdash] through court action that the building was built and was not used for three years while there was need for it by the university. He had to maneuver and struggle together with Fr. Makary to convince the members of the Coptic Community Council, who were against that move, unaware that the abandoned building was about to be taken away from them within few days. He gave credit to Pope Yusab in handling this event and in supporting them in their action.

He wrote in details how the new church in Giza, the Church of St. George was built and the difficulties that were met. He uncovered unknown pages in the history of the church.

He stood by the church's tradition without fear in choosing its bishop. He didn't bow to any pressure and followed only what his conscience would dictate. Soon after the departure of Anba Abram in 1948, the congregation found out that Fr. Metias Al Anthony, who was a Secretary to Pope Yusab at that time, was about to become the new metropolitan. There were rumors at that time that the church's posts were occupied through improper ways and bribes had been paid to a particular person to influence the Patriarch at that time. The congregation didn't accept the designated monk to be elevated and to become their bishop. On the contrary they chose a scholar, Archdeacon Habib Guirgis to be their choice, but the church ignored the voice of the people. The parishioners were determined not to accept a bishop they did't approve. The Patriarchate insisted otherwise and appointed Fr. Metias Al Anthony who was named Anba Yuoannis. He was consecrated despite their protest and during the religious ceremony to elevate him bishop, that took place at the cathedral in Cairo, some of the congregation shouted in one voice, "No, it is illegal to put a bishop against the people's will, according to the rules of the church". Father Salib himself refused to attend the celebration. Those who protested were thrown out of the church by the police and some fire arms were heard outside of the church. The Patriarch ordered Fr. Salib to accompany the new metropolitan to his residency in Giza and Anba Matthew Metropolitan of Sharkia to comfort Fr. Salib, warned the new metropolitan against any act he may take towards Sunday School, in his presence.

Fr. Salib, for the sake of peace and unity in the church, worked hard to normalize the environment and he succeeded in returning the calmness to the church.

He built a house for the university deacons and another building for the female students who come from all over the country to enter the university.

Things stayed calm thereafter till one day everyone was shocked to hear that the Metropolitan died suddenly in a strange circumstance, that he mistakenly drank a poisonous liquid that he took as his medicine. Father Salib was saddened as he loved the man after he dealt with him.

His Role In Establishing The Seven Coptic Churches in Germany

Father Salib wrote in details about how the Coptic Church was established in Germany. He said that the first Holy Liturgy was conducted for the first time ever in Germany was in 1960 by Fr. Makary El Syriany in the town of Mainz. Fr. Makary again celebrated mass in Frankfort where he gathered the Copts there for "Bible Study" and used to send them spiritual messages from time to time. Dr. Michale Khalil and Deacon Abdu Ghatas printed the messages and distributed them. Fr. Makary succeeded in getting a grant from the World Council of Churches for Fr. Mina Eskandar to serve the Copts in Europe and particularly in Germany. Fr. Bakhoum Al Moharaqi in 1963 and Fr. Antonius Amin in 1964 visited the Copts in Germany too. When Fr. Makary became Bishop Samuel, he kept revisiting them once or twice yearly. Bishop Shenouda, the present Pope, visited them in 1969 while he was Bishop of Education. Two priests from Paris between 1971-1974, Fr. Makary AbdAlla and Fr. Mina Shenouda also participated in serving in Germany. Bishop Wissa, when was a monk also served there. After thirteen years from the time the Copts asked to have a permanent priest, H. H. Pope Shenouda sent them one.

In 1974, Bishop Samuel contacted the Aussenant, the responsible department in the Anglican Church in Germany which was headed by Dr. Held, and asked for financial assistance for a period of three years. A grand of D.M 1200 was paid monthly for this purpose. Bishop Samuel opened a bank account in the village of Wilbach for the church and asked the Copts to contribute.

Pope Shenouda III designated Father Salib Sorial to travel to Germany to establish a Coptic church and to be named after St. Mark. Fr. Salib chose a church he found in Frankfort by the name of "Bethlehem" in Ginnheim District and decided to take it. The first Liturgy was celebrated April 27, 1975 in the first church, the Church of St. Mark and the celebration was shared by representatives from the Anglican and Catholic churches.

One of the blessings the church brought to the Egyptians in Germany was the recognition of the State to the Egyptians who entered Germany legally and stayed more than five years. This happened after Fr. Salib through the help of Aussenant and after arranging many conferences among the churches and walking in a procession in the streets with his clerical dress on together with 12 deacons carrying colorful banners, that the government averted what would had been a tragedy to the Copts living in Germany.

A second Church in Stuttgart was later established and named St. George Church. A third church was established in Dusseldorf, that was followed by the fourth church that was named "Anba Antonius and Anba Shenouda Church" in West Berlin. The fifth church was established February 1, 1976 in Munich and was named after "St. Mina the Wonder's Making".

The sixth church was established in Hamburg and was named after St. Peter, the last Martyr on July 11, 1976. The first Liturgy in Hamburg was conducted by Bishop Samuel in 1962. The seventh church was established in Hannover on February 13, 1977 and was named St Athanasius the Apostolic.

One of the most important tasks for Fr. Salib was the fact that the majority of the Egyptians were married to German ladies who were not Orthodox and he welcomed the wives and their children to the Coptic church and many were married and baptized according to the Coptic tradition.

Before Fr. Salib underwent his heart surgical operation which was performed by Sir Magdy Yacoub the famous heart surgeon in London, he asked the parishioners of the seven churches of Germany to pray for him.

The success story didn't stop here, on the contrary he established a Coptic Center and a monastery by the name of St. Antonius. Fr. Salib wrote, that though the great efforts of Bishop Samuel, the plans for center and the monastery were approved and the Anglican church even contributed an amount equaled a 10% of the purchase price plus paying half the interests of the loan.

When Fr. Salib returned back to Egypt, he stayed monitoring the progress of the churches in Germany and participated in overcoming the difficulties for the registeration of the Coptic church officially in Germany.

Father Salib Sorial served all his life with honesty and surely he had God's promised reward, a place in the Victorious Heavenly Church.

His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, during the funeral service that he conducted at St. Mark Cathedral in Cairo, mentioned the bright role of the city of Giza that produced three pioneers in our contemporary church, Zarif Abd Alla, Saad Aziz and Waheeb Zaki. He also mentioned also the role of Waheeb's brother in law, the late Eng. Youhanna [John] El Raheb who served with Eng. Yassa Hanna, Eng. Shawki Tawfik and Eng. Ramzy Abd El Malek in exemplary fashion.

The congregation of St. Peter and St. Paul Coptic Church in Santa Monica, California will always remember Fr. Salib Sorial who came and served their church and for meeting a great man.

 

In his memory and for his service to our church in Santa Monica, we shared in the translation of "Semon on The Mount". This was written by him in Arabic in 3 booklets, published by St. Mark Church of Giza. The introduction and the first chapter were translated by St. Mark Church in Giza. The chapters from the second to the tenth were translated by our church: St. Peter & St. Paul in Santa Monica, California.

 

© 2017 St. Peter & St. Paul Coptic Orthodox Church - Santa Monica, CA