Episode 12 | Theological Education
Coffee with Bishop Suriel
Today His Grace Bishop Suriel does not have any guests but rather he wants to share with you some thoughts and reflections on theological education in the Coptic Church.
The Coptic Church that started as the Lands of Immigration about 50 years ago is now very established in the West, no longer seen as a diaspora, but a fully established church with numerous dioceses and patriarchal jurisdictions throughout the Western world. So, we are now truly national churches in each of the countries where Copts have settled.
The call to ministry in the 21st century is challenging, certainly more challenging than when the first Coptic churches started in the West. These challenges raise some serious and pertinent questions regarding theological education, and the formation of future clergy, servants, and church leaders. The Coptic Church in its rich history and heritage is not alien to myriads of challenges. In each period she faced unique challenges and reflecting on how the church dealt with these challenges can provide for us many lessons for consideration.
Today, Bishop Suriel wishes to focus on two historical periods, one ancient, the School of Alexandria, and one modern, the work of St Habib Girgis in Theological Education, and draw from these some thoughts and reflections for Coptic theological education in the 21st century in the West.
Theological Education And Saint Habib Girgis
Archdeacon Habib Qozman Mankarious Girgis (Saint Habib Girgis Born 21 August 1951) was a modern-day dean of the Catechetical School of Alexandria. He was the very first student for the modern-day Theological School and was thus appointed to succeed his predecessor, Youssef Bey Mankarious, in the year 1918, as the second dean of the renewed center of theology. He dedicated his life to the seminary, theological education, and its improvement.
His term as dean ended with his death in 1951. On 20 June 2013, he was canonized as a saint by the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church. A Biography called “Habib Girgis, Coptic orthodox Educator and A light in the Darkness” by Bishop Anba Suriel was published by SVS Press in 2017 and includes newly discovered texts from the Coptic Orthodox Archives in Cairo.
Theological Education And The Catechetical School of Alexandria
The Catechetical School of Alexandria is the oldest catechetical school in the world. Jerome records that the Christian School of Alexandria was founded by St. Mark himself and the first manager appointed by Saint Mark was Saint Justus, who later became the sixth bishop of Alexandria. There is another opinion that the school was founded mid-second century, around 190 A.D.
The Catechetical School of Alexandria was a school of Christian theologians and priests in Alexandria. The teachers and students of the school (also known as the Didascalium) were influential in many of the early theological controversies of the Christian church. It was one of the two major centers of the study of biblical exegesis and theology during Late Antiquity, the other being the School of Antioch.
The earliest recorded dean was supposedly Athenagoras (176). He was succeeded by Pantaenus 181, who was succeeded as head of the school by his student Clement of Alexandria in 190.
The scope of this school was not limited to theological education. Apart from subjects like theology, Christian philosophy, and the Bible; science, mathematics, and Greek & Roman literature, logic, and the arts were also taught. The question-and-answer method of commentary began there, and, 15 centuries before Braille, blind students at the school were using wood-carving techniques to read and write.
Theological Education And Bishop Suriel
Bishop Suriel vocational education and experience focuses on religious intellectualism and religiosity. His education in a broad variety of sacred and secular international institutions has greatly expanded his horizon that directs him to a deeper understanding of matters relevant to faith.
This supported Bishop Suriel to succeed in my ministry and deliver numerous successful projects – not only in building infrastructure but also institutions that were the first of their kind in the Coptic Church.
About Coffee With Bishop Suriel
In our busy lives, finding a resource to answer many of our faith-related queries can be challenging. Each Wednesday join Bishop Suriel, a popular religious leader, thinker, and writer as he presents a fresh perspective on Orthodox Christian faith with an emphasis on all things Coptic. Whether you want to learn more about Christian faith, or delve deeper into Orthodoxy and spiritual life, then this is the Coptic podcast for you. Tune in for a new episode every Wednesday! Listen on Apple Podcasts ~ Google Podcasts ~ Overcast ~ Castro
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