George Kamel

George Kamel

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Monday, 06 August 2012 23:26

Our Location

St. Mark's Coptic Orthodox Church

Allen Street
Kensington, London
United Kingdom
W8 6UX 

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Maria Assumpta Centre

23 Kensington Square
Kensington, London
United Kingdom
W8 5HN

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Access contact details for St Mark's Coptic Orthodox Church and St Mark's Coptic Orthodox Centre, including contact details for our priests.

Saturday, 28 July 2012 22:50

Our Coptic Heritage

The Coptic Orthodox Church was founded by St. Mark the Evangelist in about 50 AD when he came to Egypt. The Coptic Orthodox Church is one of the oldest Apostolic churches in the world. The Coptic Orthodox Church (which is also known as the Church of Alexandria) is mentioned in the canons of the Nicean Ecumenical Council of 325 AD as being one of the four ancient apostolic churches. The other churches being: the church of Jerusalem, the church of Rome, and the church of Antioch.

"Out of Egypt have I called My Son" (Hosea 11:1)

Saturday, 14 July 2012 12:04

The Late Father Antonious Farag

Father Antonious Farag was born “Awad Farag Awad” on 17 July 1916 in Cairo. He was the eldest of five brothers and four sisters. He completed his primary and secondary education and worked as a mathematics teacher after graduating from the college of Sciences. He taught in many schools in numerous cities and towns in Egypt, and lastly he worked in one of Cairo’s known educational establishments, in the Girls’ Coptic College located in the area of Abbassiyah.

His love of Christ and His Church was clear from when he was a young man. As a layman, he taught in Sunday School, and was enthusiastically involved in the activities and service of the youth of St Antonious Church in Shoubra, Cairo. 

Father Antonious was called several times to the priesthood, and finally in 1972 he accepted to be ordained a priest to serve the congregation of his church. Thanks to his dedication, self-sacrifice and above all his spirituality, the whole neighbourhood witnessed a remarkable spiritual revival in the following years, and church members grew rapidly in number. 

In the summer of 1974, Father Antonious arrived to London. He seriously aspired that the Copts owned a church where they can pray any time and hold Mass every day instead of hiring church halls for Sunday worship and church celebrations only, with his prayers and support, a permanent church was established a year later. In 1977, he returned to Egypt and served in St George’s church in Daher area besides his service in St Mary’s church in Ayyad Beck area (both in Shoubra, Cairo). Two years later, he returned to London where he served for 18 years until he departed this world on 18 February 1997

Throughout his ministry, Father Antonious gave special care and attention to the elderly and the sick. He would visit them regularly, often travelling long distances to see them and to give them Holy Communion. Since he had no driving license, he would travel by bus to those whom he served. He was also very generous with his time. Students used to stop on their way to school exams to ask for his prayers and blessings, and he in turn would remember to pray for them during the liturgy. He regularly visited the worshippers and asked after everyone.

Father Antonious was blessed with a heavenly talent in befriending those who were away from the church and eventually convincing them to repent and attend church regularly. He used to look for them on the street corners and stop and chat to them in a fatherly and loving manner, exerting limitless efforts to bring them back to the fold. Once, he went to visit one of his sheep whom he knew at the time worked at a pub. He waited outside the pub and asked one of those entering to fetch him. When this man came out, Father Antonious greeted him warmly and asked him if he could serve him in making the Qorban for the Holy Mass. That man marks this as a turning point in his life and soon after left his job in the pub.

During the Liturgy, out of his deep devotion and knowledge of the immense riches offered freely to all on the Holy Altar, he would often venture to talk with those of the congregation who were not approaching to receive Holy Communion. Those whom he knew had not had Communion for a long time or who were new to the ways of the church, he would encourage to take of the ‘pearl of great price’ offered to them now. He would hold them lovingly and appeal to them of the greatness of the gift being offered. A lot would listen and would later count this as a turning point in their life with their Lord.

Father Antonious spent his life serving the Lord in all loyalty and steadfastness, even when his health was ailing. Besides suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure, in his later years he also became partially paralysed in his left side. He often had sleepless nights from the excruciating pain in his shoulder. However, his ailing health never hindered him from his ministry. Despite the pain of his illness which he endured happily, he continued to serve the Lord, praying the Divine Liturgy every day and Vespers regularly, preferring to submit himself to the true Healer on the church altar.

His life was a reflection of his numerous gifts: He was a man of prayer, a fisherman of people and a compassionate yet firm man. He loved visiting the sick and offering them the sacraments of healing, confession, repentance and communion. He is known for his remarkable love for the church saints, especially the Mother of God, and St Antony after whom he was named when he was ordained. Father Antonious was also known for his frankness and transparency. He was an incorrupt and contented man in every way, never caring for fame or earthly praise or glory, or for personal belongings. Above all, his forgiveness was extraordinary. Indeed he is a man well-loved and kindly remembered by all who knew him.

Saturday, 14 July 2012 09:12

The Late Father Bishoy Boshra

His Beginnings and His Childhood

The child Monir Bushra (his name before ordination to the priesthood) was born on 20th May 1941 in a place called ‘Saket Makeey’ in the district of Giza. His father was called Bushra Makar and his mother was called Mariam Gendy Mikhael. They had moved from the city of Samalot in the region of El Minya to live in Giza due to his father’s work commitments at a public company involved in the import and export trade and which was based in Cairo.

Monir was the firstborn of his parents, and he was greatly loved by them, and they brought him up with great care. They paid particular attention to his spiritual life from a young age. His parents were righteous and walked in the path of virtues and love for the poor. They embraced the example of St. Abraam, bishop of Fayoum, in the virtue of giving, and his parents would never refuse a request from a poor person. Monir was brought up to love others in particular the poor and needy.

During his early childhood the family was exposed to a lot of danger due to the Second World War. The shelling and bombs would often land on houses in their area, and the noise of the shells was deafening. Many homes were demolished as a result, and many of the occupants were left homeless. The family at that time lived in great worry, especially his mother Mariam, who greatly feared for the life of her then only son. As the air raid sirens sounded she would grab Monir, who was still only one year old, and hold him tight, and as the bombs began to fall around the house, and the explosions shock their surroundings, she would hold him tighter and tighter, in the hope that her body would become a protective cover for her son, and nothing would harm him. In all these difficulties the parents would lift their prayers to God to protect them and find them a safer place to live, away from these dangers.

God soon answered their prayers and they moved to a safer place. Their new home was in Embaba Street in a neighbourhood of Cairo called El Daher, in front of the church of the great Saint George. In this new home his brothers were also born, Nabil, Nageeb, and Makram. The family suffered a great and sudden tribulation with the departure of Makram from this life at a very tender age, but they quickly recovered through their prayers to God and recognising His comfort in their lives and His protection for them. Their prayers turned quickly to thanksgiving and to the words ‘thy will be done’, and they would say with Job, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Having overcome the falling shells and bombs in Giza and always remembering God’s remarkable rescue for them and their son Monir, another great tribulation fell upon the family once more. One day Monir fell seriously ill with gastroenteritis (which results in severe vomiting and diarrhoea) and pneumonia which threatened to end his life. He was only four at the time and his mother Mariam turned to God with much prayer and tears, asking for the intercessions of St. Mary and St. George. During her prayers she would weep so much that her tears would fall on her son with his angelic face, whom she held in her arms and on her lap.

It happened one late night and after a long time of praying that she was finally defeated by sleep due to her tiredness. She slept were she had been on the floor with her son in her arms, and she saw in a dream St. Mary, the Mother of God, handing her a bouquet of flowers and she took it in her hand. She immediately awoke to find her hand holding onto the hand of her son and moments later Monir awoke and got up and started running and playing in the room around her. The mother at first could not believe that Monir was healed and she called his father, who came running quickly. He took him immediately to the doctor and the doctor stated that the boy was fine and healthy and there was nothing to worry about. This confirmed to them the miracle which the Lord had done for them through the intercessions of St. Mary and they glorified God for His wonderful works.

From that time his mother Mariam took him to the church and presented him to the priest of the church and the choirmaster to take care of educating him in the hymns of the church and serving the altar. For when Monir was sick and she was asking for the intercessions of St. Mary, his mother prayed just as Hannah the mother of Samuel had prayed and said, “I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life”. The Holy Spirit had inspired her in her prayers and unawares she had prophesied about the priesthood which her son would one day hold although he was still a very young boy at the time.

The young boy Monir continued to grow and attended the Holy Liturgies regularly, partaking of the Holy Sacraments, and attending Sunday school. He loved the hymns of the church. He would spend much time trying to learn them and he was blessed with a wonderful voice. His Grace Bishop Theophilus, head of St. Mary’s monastery of Surian was one day praying the Holy Liturgy in the church of St. George El Daher and he ordained the young Monir to the rank of ‘Psaltos’ or ‘Cantor’ in the deaconate ranks. He was aged six at the time and he ordained his brothers Nabil and Nageeb at the same time.

When his father saw how dedicated he was to learning the hymns and listening to his wonderful voice, he brought him as a present a small set of cymbals and a triangle. Those cymbals and triangle went on to be the cause of many frictions with the neighbours as the young cantor spent long hours honing his skill and practising the hymns and reciting the Holy Liturgy in the house. He would often stay up late at night singing hymns to the extent that the neighbours complained saying, “Have you turned your home into a church or what… we can’t get to sleep because of the singing, the cymbals, and the triangle!!!”

This was the life of the child Monir, growing in virtue and grace. The more he grew the more his knowledge and love for the church, her dogma and her rites increased. His knowledge of hymns also increased. There was also a neighbour to the family called Mr Boulis Kheer. This neighbour had moved from Upper Egypt in the south, to Cairo. His relatives would often come and visit him, and amongst those relatives was a young boy named Tobia who would attend every year during the summer to spend the summer holidays with his relative.

During this time Tobia would spend all his time with his friend Monir. They were inseparable except at bedtime. Their friendship was so close that they would do everything together. They were known for their quietness and spirituality and they would attend all the church meetings and all the Holy Liturgies during the length of the summer.

Until the time would come to return to school and Tobia would return to Upper Egypt but they would remain in continual touch with each other until the following summer arrived. As for the quiet young spiritual Tobia, he went on to become His Grace Bishop Fam, the Bishop of Tema.

His Education

The young Monir began his education at the local primary school. He studied there for six years and graduated from there passing all his exams before moving onto a secondary school to continue his education. During this time he continued to attend Sunday School and Spiritual Meetings as well as the Holy Liturgies during the week and the feast days of the saints and the Feasts. During this time his great spiritual and educational level grew to become greater than his peers.

Having passed his Secondary exams, he then went on to study at a Higher Secondary Education school. His church and deacon service did not stop him from excelling in his education. A story which is told during his Higher Secondary Education studies was that he would leave the classroom with his friends during the time of the Islamic lesson, to preserve his Christian belief and dogma, and so as not to offend either his friends or those in the class by his presence. Once the Arabic teacher, who also gave the Islamic class objected to him leaving, despite there being no obligation on him to stay. Monir politely refused to stay and this angered the teacher who started attacking the Christian religion and questioning Monir about his faith. Although he was a young student at the time, Monir being filled with the Holy Spirit answered all his accusations calmly and in a persuasive manner with the knowledge he had at the time.

He was in fact so persuasive that the heart of the teacher was moved, and the Spirit of God convicted him to seek out more. He asked Monir to bring some books about the Christian belief, and Monir got the books from his father’s library. His father was also deeply knowledgeable in this area. The matter ended with the teacher spending much time studying the Christian belief and finally he was convinced by the reliability and truth of the Christian faith, all this because of the Holy Spirit which was in the young deacon Monir Bushra.

The young Monir was exceptionally bright. His favourite and best subject by far was mathematics. His desire was to become an accountant, and his wish came true when he finally finished his higher secondary education and he joined Cairo University to study business. Here and we stop to mention an important story which shows how God was planning his life. Once a youth came to him complaining of a problem which he had prayed a lot about but God did not answer him so what should he do? So Monir started to talk to him about the marvellous work of God in our lives and that he should leave all the matters in the hand of God and let his guide be “Thy will be done” for God knows best when and how to answer our requests. Many times our requests are not according to the will of God, and many times God delays in responding to our requests for reasons which become clear later. He delays because if He were to respond immediately the harm that would befall us would far out way the benefits, and God does not wish to harm us in any way.

This very advice came back to play an important role in his life. Monir went through a great tribulation during the last year of his higher secondary education when he was forced to repeat the year due to his exam results. This came as an incredible shock to him, for he was very diligent in his studies, and had revised hard for the exams. His family felt for his distress but they encouraged him with supportive words and he soon was working hard. He put his distress to one side from this unexpected tribulation. He would say to himself I am sure God had a reason for this, and sure enough there was a reason...

Monir repeated the year and he passed his final higher secondary education exams with excellent results, and his exam score allowed him to study business at the University of Cairo as was his original wish. The years went by with his peers being one year ahead of him. They graduated one year ahead of him and were all conscripted into the army as was required at the time. In that year they were sent out to fight the war in Yemen and sadly none of them were to return alive from that war. It was at this moment that Monir and his family realised how God’s divine plan and intervention in his life had preserved him from harm, for God had another mission for Monir to complete as His servant.

During the time he was in the Business school he was greatly loved by all his friends. He was known for his joyous spirit and wonderful smile. He would touch everyone who came in contact with him. He would rarely come home on his own, but would often bring back two or three of his friends to have lunch or dinner. He was so popular with the students that they made him head of the student union for the University. His activities also extended to performing as part of the university drama group. He also organised and supervised the many trips for the university students.

His Deaconate and Sunday School Service

Due to his clear spiritual growth during the secondary school stage, the head of Sunday school for St. George’s Church, El Daher, appointed him a servant. In fact he was heavily reliant on Monir to serve those of primary school age. This was the beginnings of Monir’s blessed Sunday school service from an early age. Furthermore he did not stop in attending his own age group Sunday school with his friends to learn despite being appointed a servant.

As a result of his humility and meekness, he never felt himself better than his friends or other servants because he was younger than them in the service. Rather he felt the weight of responsibility on his shoulders and he would often pray to God to allow him to carry that responsibility faithfully.

His tribulation of having to repeat his final year would have caused many to give up hope and stop serving. However this had the opposite effect on Monir. He started to serve even more, least what befell him may have been due to a lack of service on his part, or so he would often think. He did not allow this tribulation to trouble him, but he threw it over his shoulder and instead proceeded to throw his entire strength at studying and serving God even more. His spirituality increased day by day under the guidance of his spiritual father, and next to his Sunday school service he was dedicated to his serve as a deacon. He also had other services such as supervising the church’s drama group and organising trips for the youth to the monasteries, the holy sites, and the leisure destinations around Egypt.

Many a person who was far from God returned to the church during this time because of this youthful God loving servant.

His Work

Monir graduated from business school and almost immediately started work as an accountant for a accountancy firm of Mr Louis Mikhael in 1965. He was honest and dedicated in his work. This was to the extent that when he moved to work as a manager in Shamla Company in Cairo, Mr Mikhael refused to let him go and he agreed to work for Mr Mikhael on certain evenings as well as working for Shamla Company. In 1969 he moved to become head of accounts at Elewayat of Egypt Company, he worked for three years there until he was chosen to be ordained a priest for the church of St. George in El Daher.

An incident which also occurred to him during his youth was that one day he suddenly suffered severe pain in his abdomen area, and his father and family took him to see Doctor Morris Ameen Awad, who diagnosed the pain as appendicitis requiring immediate and urgent surgery to remove the appendix. His mother became greatly distressed due to the dangers of the operation and she asked his brother Nageeb to go to the old patriarchate in Klot Bay and ask for the prayers of His Holiness Pope Kyrillos VI for Monir.

It was the habit of Pope Kyrillos VI to sit on a chair in the middle of the hall in the old patriarchate for anyone to take the blessings from him. Naturally many would attend to take his holiness’ blessings and on the day Nageeb attended the place was crowded with people wishing to take the blessings of his holiness that Nageeb could not think of a way to reach his holiness. He then decided to leave to rejoin the family back at the clinic.

As he was thinking of leaving his holiness Pope Kyrillos VI called to him, “Come here, you tall person from El Minya who is standing there”. Nageeb approached his holiness and said to him, “But I am not from El Minya your holiness”. At this his holiness gave him a sharp look with his eyes and hit him with the cross on his head saying, “Alright, you who comes from Samalot then, or is Samalot no longer in El Minya” (This his holiness said referring to his parents and ancestry who come from Samalot in El Minya).

His holiness then said to him, “Take this cotton soaked in oil and go and wipe it on the side which hurts your brother, and tell him not to fear he will recover”. Nageeb went and followed the instructions of his holiness and told Monir what his holiness had said. The operation took place and Monir made a speedier than usual recovery. What was nice about this incident was that His Holiness Pope Kyrillos VI did not know Nageeb and yet the Spirit of God had revealed to his holiness who he was and why he had come.

Saturday, 07 July 2012 22:13

Father Thomas Ghobrial

Text to be added..

Saturday, 07 July 2012 22:12

Father Serapion Barbary

Text to be added..

Saturday, 07 July 2012 22:04

Father Antonious Thabet

Father Antonious was born on 23 April 1938 in Alexandria, Egypt. He started teaching in Sunday school at the age of 16 whilst serving in the churches of Archangel Michael in Gorbal, Saint Mary in Meharam Beh and Saint Mina in Elmandara, all of which are in Alexandria.

In 1962, Fr Antonious began a group of Sunday School teachers who worked closely with Bishop Shenouda (His Holiness the late Pope Shenouda III). This group organised conferences and met regularly in Alexandria. Fr Antonious became the secretary of this group.

Fr Antonious was ordained priest in St Mark’s Cathedral, Alexandria on 21 January 1973, and became secretary of His Holiness Pope Shenouda III. On 26 June 1975, he was ordained Hegumen and was appointed as the Pope’s representative (Ar: "Wekeel") of the Coptic churches in Alexandria.

On 1 August 1980, Fr Antonious was called to serve in Saint Mark’s Church in London. Whilst serving in Saint Mark’s, in 1981 he started to travel to Birmingham, Manchester, Ireland and Glasgow to pray the Holy Liturgy for the small group of Copts living there. This formed the seed for Coptic churches which were later established in these locations. He also travelled to Denmark, Switzerland, Marsillia and Greece to pray Holy liturgies for the congregation there; these places also later they established Coptic churches.

Saturday, 07 July 2012 19:28

Our History (Pre-1975)

The building we now know as St Mark's Coptic Orthodox Church was formerly known as St John's Presbyterian church. Its architect was J N McCulloch, an austere Scot, the building cost £6,000 and it was opened in 1863. It had a very plain interior with bare walls, plain pews, a wooden floor and no organ which disappointed many as it gave 'a sense of depression'. Many changes were made in the ensuing years to improve the aesthetic and practical features including adding galleries for more seating, replacing the floor and installing an organ.
St John's was badly damaged during an air raid in September 1940. The congregation joined their neighbours in Allen Street at the Kensington Chapel until that too was hit. Both congregations did return to their original buildings but eventually joined together under the umbrella of the United Reformed Church.
During its last years as an independent church, St John's became known for a number of things. It staged an experimental religious drama, The Man Born to be King by Dorothy Sayers which, though controversial at the time because an actor depicted Christ, enjoyed success later on the radio. St John's also staged shows by popular entertainers in the 1950s and 1960s. However it will probably be most remembered for the young organist John Tavener whom it appointed in 1952. His work for the funeral of Princess Diana made his name known outside of the Church and has also done a lot to encourage the popularity of medieval liturgical singing. John Tavener stayed at St John's till 1973.
In 1975, St John's, Scarsdale Villas was sold to the Coptic Orthodox Church and has been home to the congregation of St Mark's ever since.
Sunday, 07 October 2012 21:31

Web Site Revamped

We are delighted to announce the launch of our revamped web site.

Even though the previous web site was fresh and completely functional, the redesigned site is packed with even more features! Through this new site, you'll be able to keep up-to-date with everything that's happening at St Mark's, have access to a host of Christian articles and multimedia resources, and contribute to discussions in our new forum. In short, it will be informative, edifying and vibrant.

Wednesday, 04 April 2012 21:36

Our History (Post-1975)

St. Mark's, London is one of the oldest churches in the lands of the immigration, and one of the first churches supported and cared for by our beloved Patriarch Shenouda III. He wrote the following about the church way back when...

St. Mark Church in London is the mother church of all Coptic Orthodox Churches in United Kingdom.It established the church of Croydon, the church of Stevenage and recently the church of Golders Green. 

It was the only church in Europe which had three priests together to pastor the congregation.

Later Fr. Antonious Farag of good memory, Fr. Antonious Thabet and Fr. Bishoy Boshra. The last two of whom were the first to pastor the copts in Scotland and Ireland.

I consecrated this church in 1979 in Kensington. But it had a root ten years ago in a hired place. The first three monk priests who served this church became members of the Holy Synod of the mother church in Egypt; ie. Metropolitan Pachomious of Bohaira and Pentapolis, Metropolitan Agathon of Ismailia and Bishop Reweis the general bishop.

St. Mark's Church was a small seed which grew up "and became a great tree so that the birds of the air came to nest in its branaches" (Matt. 13:32).

Congratulations and best wishes. May God bless this church, its priests, its board of deacons and all the members of its congregation to be more and more, deeper in their spirituality and activities.

Shenouda III

St Mark's Coptic Orthodox Church in London is one of the oldest Coptic churches in the lands of the immigration, and one of the first to be supported and cared for by our beloved patriarch, HH the late Pope Shenouda III.

  • St Mark's Coptic Orthodox Church
    Allen Street, Kensington
    London W8 6UX