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WCC mourns passing of Metropolitan Anba Bishoy of Damietta

WCC mourns passing of Metropolitan Anba Bishoy of Damietta

Photo: Odair Pedroso Mateus/WCC

03 October 2018

The World Council of Churches (WCC) is mourning the passing of Metropolitan Bishoy of Damietta, Kafr El-Sheikh, Barary, and the Monastery of Saint Demiana of the Coptic Orthodox Church. One of the senior and most influential Coptic Orthodox Prelates of the modern era, he has made extensive contributions in the areas of Pan-Orthodox unity, dialogue and ecumenism. He was a close colleague of the late Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria.

Born in 1942 as Makram Eskander Nicola, he completed his senior school in 1958 and entered the Faculty of Engineering (Mechanics) 1959 in Alexandria. In 1963 he graduated with a bachelor’s degree, and took honors in becoming an assistant professor in the Faculty of Engineering. Before leaving to become a monk, he decided to complete his master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering which he received in 1968. Two days later, he became a monk in the Deir Al-Sourian.

In February 1969, he became Monk Thoma El-Souriani in the Monastery of the Virgin, or Deir El-Souriani. He was ordained a priest on Palm Sunday 1970, and later ordained a hegoman priest in August 1972. On 24 September 1972, he was enthroned as the Bishop of Damietta, Kafr El-Shiek and the Monastery of Saint Demiana, Barrari, Belkas. On 2 September 1990 he was ordained Metropolitan in the Cathedral of Saint Athanasius the Apostle at Damanhur and was also secretary of the Holy Synod from 1985 until today.

WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit received the news of Bishoy’s death with great sadness. “Metropolitan Anba Bishoy was one of the church leaders who was strongly rooted at the local level and yet had a strong global presence which carried much influence,” Tveit said. “Not only churches in the Middle East but also Christians around the world will miss this dynamic ecumenical leader.”

Bishoy served on WCC Executive Committee from 2006-2013, and on the WCC Central Committee from 2013 until he passed. He was a member of the Faith and Order Commission from 1991 until he died.

He also consistently represented the Coptic and Oriental Orthodox communities in ecumenical dialogues.

Tveit added: “His Eminence Metropolitan Bishoy contributed to the work of the World Council of Churches in many committees and positions. He offered leadership from his church and his church family, with a strong passion and heart for the ecumenical work for unity and common witness. His friendship and his presence I will remember and miss. He always reminded us that we should carry the cross of Christ together.”

Rev. Dr Susan Durber, moderator of the WCC Commission on Faith and Order, said: "Amongst the community of those involved in Faith and Order at the World Council of Churches, we grieve the loss of His Eminence Metropolitan Bishoy of Damietta, a member of the Faith and Order Commission from 1991 until the day of his death. He brought to our work a steadfast commitment to ecumenism and the determination that does not give up on the task of calling one another to unity.”

Durber continued: “He brought to the ecumenical movement a faithful advocacy of his tradition and a powerful witness to Christian faith in demanding contexts and times. He always brought gifts to the table, and was someone ready to surprise us not only with theological insight, but with stories from long experience in faith, witness and leadership. He will be missed in many places and certainly in Faith and Order. We give thanks for him, in the name of Jesus Christ, and trust in the resurrection faith which he, with us, proclaimed."

Carla Khijoyan, programme executive for the Middle East, said: "Metropolitan Bishoy was a spiritual father, a leader, and a friend...his wisdom on difficult issues related to our churches in the Middle East would always guide our meetings. We will deeply miss his passion and commitment to our region, the enriching and deep conversations that would always end with a prayer, a smile and a gift carried all the way from his beloved monastery...his contributions to different ecumenical dialogues, locally, regionally or globally have paved the way for our churches to move forward on the journey of unity and love in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. May he find eternal Peace in the arms of the One he lived and worked for.”

The funeral will take place on 4th October in Egypt.

Member churches in Egypt