April 2012 Letter
The departure of our beloved father, His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, on Saturday, March 17, 2012 has been very difficult for all of us.
The duration of the service of H.H. Pope Shenouda III on the See of St. Mark exceeded 40 years by a few months. According to the history of the popes of Alexandria, this duration is considered a long time, as compared with those of his predecessors Patriarchs. No other Coptic Pope before him had his duration of service exceeding 40 years except 6 popes:
1) Pope Demetrius 1st (Vinedresser) Patriarch number 12: who departed on the year 230 A.D., and served for 42 years and 7 months.
2) Pope Athanasius 1st (Apostolic) Patriarch 20: departed 373 A.D., and served for 45 years.
3) Pope Gabriel 7th Patriarch 95: departed 1568 A.D., and served for 43 years.
4) Pope Youannes 16th Patriarch 103: departed 1718 A.D., served 42 years and 3 months.
5) Pope Peter 7th Patriarch 109: departed 1852 A.D., and served for 42 years and 3 months.
6) Pope Kyrollos 5th Patriarch number 112: who departed on the year 1927 A.D., and served for 52 years and 9 months.
Not only is His Holiness Pope Shenouda’s service strong in terms of duration, but also in its depth. The Pope’s personality was unique, combining many qualities that shaped his service and gave it this depth. His personality is a combination of a compassionate father, spiritual guide, meticulous theologian, knowledgeable teacher, ascetic monk, open-minded ecumenical, peace-maker, tender hearted poet, excellent writer … etc. We have all heard and read about the richness of his personality during the days that followed his departure; both from his Coptic children or from public figures.
May the Lord repose his soul in the paradise of joy, and reward him for all his labor to serve the church and the Lord’s people according to His true promise: “For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister (Heb 6: 10). Now, we need to raise prayers during the remaining days of fasting and the Holy Week, asking the Lord to grant us a good shepherd and to lead His people in purity and righteousness.
Fr. Youssef Halim & Fr. Luke Istafanous
Belleville, April 1, 2012