In December of 2000, members of the Church traveled to Cairo
for a family celebration where His Holiness was to be invited. The
delegation to deliver the invitation included these Winnipeg members.
So according to St. Paul’s teachings, any situation should be used to be
built upon, the two members took advantage of being in the presence of
His Holiness to discuss the situation in Winnipeg. His Holiness’ answer
was like before, “Nominate a candidate and I will ordain him for you.”
and the response was, “We are a small congregation and there is no
eligible candidate among us.” It was suggested that the larger churches
in the East should be contacted to explore the possibility of nominating a
candidate for the Winnipeg Church, specifically Abouna Angelos Saad,
Mississauga, for this purpose. His Holiness supported that move and he
said, “tell Abouna Angelos that ‘foulan’, referring to himself, is telling you
to find a candidate for Winnipeg.”
Immediately the delegates placed a call to Winnipeg conveying His
Holiness’ response and consequently Abouna Angelos was contacted
both by phone and in person, but to no avail.
The situation got even more complicated when Abouna Danial Rizq was
transferred from Calgary to Halifax in Eastern Canada with no immediate
replacement for him in Calgary.
Priests from the Ontario region were then contacted to serve Winnipeg.
Those who responded were Abouna Youanis Shelby from Ajax, Ontario,
and Abouna Morcos Hanna from Brampton, Ontario. Over the next
period, many other priests from different Churches in Ontario did
respond. Through their services St. Mark of Winnipeg had weekly
services during the Fasts and at least twice a month services for the rest
of the year.
Abouna Reweis Aziz
It came to the attention of the Church Council that there was a
priest by the name of Abouna Reweis Aziz who had been delegated to
the Diocese of Southern United States under the auspices of His Grace
Anba Youssef, that his appointment was coming to an end and was
willing to come and serve in Canada. A permission was obtained from
His Holiness allowing Abouna Reweis Aziz to come to Winnipeg for one
month for a visit. Abouna Reweis came in September 2001 and stayed
for one month. During that month there were Sunday Services and
spiritual meetings during the week. The Church congregation
expressed an interest in having Abouna Reweis continue at St. Mark’s
as a permanent priest. Permission was obtained for another month
followed by a petition that Abouna Reweis be appointed as the parish
Priest. His Holiness approved and a Papal declaration was published
in the Kerazah, the papal official paper.
Immediately, Abouna Reweis came to Winnipeg with initial preparations
that his family, residing in the US, would follow him.
During this time there was a large population of pharmacists who came
to Winnipeg, boosting the Church population.
Sunday services, Holy day services, Wednesday early morning
services and spiritual meetings during the week started to take a
In November 2002 this ended when Abouna Reweis returned to Egypt.
Following those events, the Church services were back to Saturday
Services with the thoughtful efforts of the fathers from several Churches
in Ontario. The following Nativity, Abouna Bishoy Fayek of St. Mary’s
Church in Zeitoun served St. Mark’s Church. He went home with a
strong message of “What is next for St. Mark’s?”
Abouna Sourial Fahmy
For the two Feasts prior to this motion and the two following the motion,
His Holiness delegated Abouna Sourial Fahmy to celebrate the Feasts in
Winnipeg. This initiated a dialogue with Abouna Sourial about his
interest in staying in Winnipeg and becoming permanent priest of the
Church. He was open to the idea.
This matter was discussed with Church members and it became a wish
that Abouna Sourial would stay on as the Church Priest. At the
beginning, it seemed to be a difficult request since he had been in the
same Church in Cairo for about 28 years.
On November 3, 1998, a member of the Winnipeg Church was attending
a professional conference in Egypt and was able to meet with His Grace
Bishop Youanis, the Secretary to His Holiness to present a letter from
the Church describing the current situation of the Church, indicating its
needs and requesting that Abouna Sourial be appointed to serve
Winnipeg. His Grace promised to convey the request to His Holiness
and asked the Church member to return in two days for an answer.
On November 5th His Holiness granted his approval to assign Abouna
Sourial to serve St. Mark Church as her first permanent priest. His
Holiness requested that a signed nomination be received from the
Church congregation before Abouna Sourial was notified. On November
7, after Holy Liturgy a nomination sheet was circulated to the
congregation in Winnipeg and was signed by the Church council
members and 65 members (of all ages). This nomination sheet was
faxed to Cairo and presented to His Grace Bishop Youanis on
November 9th. His Grace Bishop Youanis then contacted Abouna
Sourial and told him that His Holiness approved his appointment to St.
Mark Church of Winnipeg.
The formal announcement came from the office of the Pope and a Papal
declaration was published on December 11, 1998, of the Kerazah
under the title: a Priest for the Church in Winnipeg.” The declaration
“His Holiness, the Pope, has delegated Abouna Sourial Fahmy, the
priest of St. Mary’s Church, Abbasia, and a member of the Ecclesiastical
Council, to become the first resident priest of our Church in Winnipeg in
It was a day of joy and gladness that the prayers were fulfilled and a
priest of Abouna Sourial’s caliber became the Church priest. It was a
joyous reception for Abouna Sourial in Winnipeg.
Abouna Sourial arrived on January 4, 1999, to assume the pastoral care
of St. Mark congregation. To expedite his arrival and in Winnipeg for the Nativity Feast, Abouna Sourial arrived without his family. A temporary
residence was arranged for him until he could decide as to his
residence, car, furniture, etc…
Abouna Sourial started new services in the Church such as a weekly
Bible meeting and, for the first time, a servants’ meeting, in addition to
some Coptic language classes. When Great Lent arrived, he started, for
the first time, a mid-week Liturgy on Wednesdays. The attendance was
not great, taking into consideration the still small population in the
Church and that almost all people were busy during weekdays, but he
continued the Services from 3-5 p.m. followed by an agape meal, and
attendance increased over the weeks.
As time went by, Abouna Sourial was faced with the reality of life in
Winnipeg in the winter time, the small number in the Congregation, the
infrequency of services. That, in addition to deaths in his wife’s family
and mostly some problems that arose in St. Mary’s Church in Abbasia,
created havoc with his peace of mind. Abouna Sourial could not
separate himself from the Church that he looked after since his
ordination almost thirty years earlier.
The situation in St. Mary’s in Cairo was on his mind and he was trying to
settle issues “long distance.” Abouna Sourial made arrangements with
the Church Council to travel back to Egypt after the Feast of
Resurrection to try to settle matters in St. Mary’s and to arrange for his
family to accompany him back to Winnipeg. He left Winnipeg on Easter
Monday, and the following week one of the Church members traveled to
Cairo and visited Abouna Sourial at St. Mary’s Church. The mood in the
Church and among his family members were very clear that they wished
that Abouna Sourial should stay in Cairo, but the fact was that His
Holiness had appointed him to the Church in Winnipeg. Weeks and
months passed by in which there was very little communication with
Abouna Sourial in which the only indicator was “things are not ready
In the month of October 1999, Church members traveled to Cairo. The
Church Council gave them the task to meet with His Grace Bishop Youanis to clarify the situation. A meeting was arranged in which His
Grace indicated, with assurances, that Abouna Sourial would be
returning to Winnipeg pending His Holiness’ decision as to when. The
Committee was assured that if Abouna Sourial was not scheduled to
return by the New Year, His Holiness would delegate a Priest to
celebrate the Nativity Feast in Winnipeg.
Towards the end of the year 1999, a message came indicating Abouna
Youhanna Louka from Shoubra would be celebrating the Nativity Feast
in Winnipeg. Abouna Youhanna remained in Winnipeg from the
Nativity Feast service until Epiphany. Still, there was no word about
The Church returned to its previous routine of Saturday services, led
mostly by Abouna Danial. It became increasingly clear that Abouna
Sourial was not returning to Winnipeg, especially when word came that
Abouna Youhanna Wadie of St. Mary’s Church in Rod el Farag would be
the priest to celebrate the 2000 Holy Week in Winnipeg.
Shortly after that, a member of the Church was in Cairo and visited
Abouna Sourial in his Church. Abouna Sourial showed him a copy of a
letter he sent to His Holiness indicating that, due to personal
circumstances, he requested to be relieved from his appointment to
Winnipeg. Abouna Sourial indicated in his letter to His Holiness that he
was treated well by the Church in Winnipeg and that his decision was
not due to any wrong-doing on their part.