In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, One God. Amen.
I was deeply affected and saddened by the sudden falling asleep of Very Reverend Fr Macarius Wahba in Melbourne last Thursday. As I mentioned on my social media outlets, Fr Macarius to me was not just my vicar for so many years, he also was not just a priest, but he was much more to me. Fr Macarius was a very close friend even long before I became Bishop of Melbourne in 1999.
I first met Fr Macarius if my memory serves me correctly, when we were still lay servants, when a youth group from Melbourne visited the Sydney churches in the mid 1980’s and then I joined him on a second Australian youth trip to Egypt at the end of 1989. I have so many wonderful recollections of this trip and so many spiritual experiences.
After I was tonsured as a monk in 1991, Fr Macarius came to Egypt in 1993 for his ordination as a priest and spent 40 days with us at St Bishoy Monastery. A blessed time indeed. I did not consider Fr Macarius as just a priest in the diocese, but in fact as a brother and someone I could trust.
That is why after the repose of Fr Boctor Raphael, I chose Fr Macarius as my new vicar, due to his loyalty and faithfulness in his ministry. He was more than a vicar, but he was also a confidant. Fr Macarius was always by my side throughout my ministry. His name means blessed and indeed he was blessed in so many ways.
This reminds me of a story from the life of St Macarius the Great. One day Abba Paphnutius, the disciple of Abba Macarius, said, “I asked my Father to say a word to me and he replied, “Do no evil to anyone, and do not judge anyone. Observe this and you will be saved.” Truly Fr Macarius lived by this rule in all his dealings either with clergy or the community at large, he dealt with all people with meekness and righteousness.
Blessed are you Fr Macarius in how he served the Lord, the altar and the liturgy were something very special to him. His reverence of the Church and its rites were always evident.
Blessed in how he respected the hierarchy of the Church, I remember early on when we began publishing a full color monthly religious and spiritual magazine called Epsajee, that many times we would be running late on production and he would come and spend the whole night, sometimes till 6 or 7 am in the morning working with me and the graphic designer to make sure that that month’s issue would be on time. Many of you will recall that publication, and Fr Macarius played a significant role in its production.
I never saw Fr Macarius as someone who was subordinate to me, but I always served with him in complete love and respect. I just enjoyed his presence which was always very comforting to me.
Blessed in the way he dealt with his brothers the priests, always with gentleness, humility and deep love for each of them.
Blessed in his ministry to his community, not just at his parish church of St Mary’s but in fact across the diocese. Many times, he would travel with me interstate or overseas to New Zealand and Fiji and everyone loved him. In all of this his blessed wife Christine never complained once and she was there as an incredible support for Fr Macarius.
Blessed in his beautiful smile and tone of voice. I do not think I ever heard Fr Macarius raise his voice, but in fact was always so polite in dealing with everyone, even in the most difficult of circumstances, this to me reflects the inner peace that he possessed through his deep relationship with Christ, St Mary and the saints.
Blessed in his love for children and youth as you can see in the many photos that have been shared on social media over the past few days. I felt that even when he was feeling sick, or lacking energy, he gained energy by being around young people. The youth also loved him deeply and would always seek his spiritual advice when they were going through difficulties in their lives.
Blessed in his love of theological education and in fact was one of the first graduates in Melbourne to complete a course in theology by correspondence through Sydney before a proper theological college was established in Melbourne. For a while he served as the registrar of St Athanasius College and assisted in seeing the college reach full accreditation.
Blessed in the wisdom that he brought to the Clerical Council on Marital Affairs and always dealt with complete justice and never taking sides in his advice and studying each case meticulously in order to uphold the teachings of the Scriptures at all times.
Blessed in never accepting injustice towards anyone and would defend the truth no matter the cost. He was a man of integrity and high morals in all his dealings at all levels.
I want to conclude with another story from the life of Abba Macarius the Great. “Another time a demon approached Abba Macarius with a knife and wanted to cut his foot. But, because of his humility he could not do so, and he said to him, all that you have, we have also; you are distinguished from us only by humility; by that you get the better of us.” This virtue of meekness and humility was evident in the life of Fr Macarius. He gained so many people and especially the youth due to this virtue of humility and people adored him for this.
My heartfelt condolences and sympathy to his wife Christine, to Mama Faiza, and truly I respect her as I do my own mother and to his dear brother Joseph and his family. In fact, I send my sympathy and condolences to the clergy of St Mary Parish in particular, Very Reverend Fr Tadros Sharobim, Fr Habib Girgis Younan and Fr Michael Salib who served side by side with Fr Macarius on a daily basis. My condolences to all the clergy, to the community of St Mary Parish and in fact to all the community of the diocese who deeply loved this man of God.
Blessed are you dear beloved Fr Macarius a truly loyal and faithful friend and brother. May the Lord support us in our journey in life as He supported you to the last breath. Pray for us and intercede on our behalf and ask the Lord to strengthen us to live righteous lives pleasing to Him. I will personally miss you immensely my dear brother and I love you with all my heart and soul and will always remember your name on the altar in every liturgy I pray. Pray for me my dear precious friend and goodbye for now until we meet again by the grace God. Glory be to God forever. Amen.
Delivered to you by COPTICNN™ | Coptic News Network on 2020-08-30 from Los Angelos, United States
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