Dazzling Anba Rweiss Arrived Heaven In Peace (1939 – 2020)
Photo Credit To Marcos Ishak | Photography

Dazzling Anba Rweiss Arrived Heaven In Peace (1939 – 2020)

May 14, 2020, the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt lost General Bishop Anba Rweiss who was widely loved for his calm peacefulness and humble self-effacement. His Holiness officiated the funeral service for H.G. Bishop Rewis, the General Bishop for the Anba Rewis area, Cairo, at St. Peter’s Church (Al-Boutrosia) in Abbasiyya, accompanied by several members of the Holy Synod including; H.E. Metropolitan Morkos of Shoubra El-Kheema, H.G. Bishop Mattaos, Abbot of St. Mary Monastery (El-Soryan), General Bishop H.G. Bishop Botros, H.G. Bishop Daniel of Maadi & the Secretary of the Holy Synod, H.G. Bishop Youannis of Asyut, H.G. Bishop Rafael, General Bishop of Downtown Cairo, H.G. Bishop Ermia, the General Bishop, H.G. Bishop Daniel, Abbot of St. Paul the Anchorite Monastery in the Eastern Desert, H.G. Bishop Salib of Meet-Ghamr, H.G. Bishop Youhana of North Giza, H.G. Bishop Maqar of El-Asher Men Ramadan, H.G. Bishop Yolius, General Bishop of Old Cairo and Bishopric of Service, H.G. Bishop Eklemandos the General Bishop for the Churches of Almaza, El-Haganah, and East Nasr City, Cairo, and H.G. Bishop Mikhail the General Bishop for the Churches of Hadayek El-Koba, Cairo. The service was broadcast live on Christian TV channels.

Bishop Anba Rweiss life reminds us of the living example St. Paul has given us in his letter to the Corinthians “We are fools for Christs’ sake, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonored! To the present hour we both hunger and thirst and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now” (1 Cor 4:10-13).

“An angel who lived among us” H.H. Pope Tawdross II describing General Bishop Anba Rweiss

Pope Tawadros described Anba Rweiss as a man who, at the age of 23, left the world with all its pleasures and headed to the wilderness to consecrate his life to Christ. “He lived a life of tranquillity, silence, and calm.

Matthias Al-Suriani “a.k.a Anba Rweiss” | The Monk Who Ran Away

“At the time I was a secondary school student, and I remember reading in Egypt’s topmost daily paper al-Ahram news of a monk who ran away to escape being installed a bishop; I felt amazed at such unique behavior.” Pope Tawdross II recalled.

“I will never forget that when I was consecrated Bishop-General in 1997, Anba Rweiss was the first to hand me a donation for the poor in the parish where I served. Pope Tawdross II added.

“He was an angel who lived among us and has now gone home in peace. We ask him to pray for us.” H.H. Pope Tawdross concluded his testament.

About Anba Rweiss (1939 – 2020)

Anba Rweiss was born Mukhtar Fahmy al-Minwawy in May 1939 in the town of Mit Ghamr on the eastern branch of the Nile Delta.

He graduated from Cairo University with a degree in Commerce in 1962.

In October 1963, Mukhtar al-Minyawi took orders in the Western Desert monastery of Deir al-Surian in Wadi al-Natroun, some 100km northwest Cairo, under the name Matthias al-Suriani. and ordained a priest in January 1966.

That same year, he was chosen by Pope Kyrillos VI as his secretary, then tasked with spiritual supervision of the Clerical College in Cairo.

In 1969 Pope Kyrillos VI, the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch from 1959 to 1971, attempted to install him, Bishop of Dumyat, he declined, ran away, and retreated in the desert in self-isolation and could not be found till the Pope consecrated another Bishop. The story was so exceptional that it warranted coverage in the State-owned Cairo daily paper Al-Ahram.

Fr Matthias returned as supervisor of the Clerical College in 1970, then was delegated to London in 1971 to serve the Coptic congregation there.

In 1977, Pope Shenouda III, the Patriarch of Alexandria from 1971 – 2012, held him as papal secretary and general coordinator.

In May 1977, when Fr Matthias could no longer resist pressure to be made a bishop, Pope Shenouda III consecrated him as Bishop-General under a name he chose for himself, Anba Rweiss (also written Rueiss and Rewis), a 14th-century Coptic saint famous for his extreme humbleness and sublime spirituality.

As a Bishop, he was always attached to the area of Anba Rweiss in Abbassiya, Cairo, which houses St Mark’s Cathedral, the papal headquarters, and several Coptic institutions.

Anba Rweiss used to attend the Holy Synod meetings, his presence always radiating calm and peace.

Dr. Mina Badie Abdel-Malek, Professor at Alexandria University, and researcher of and writer on Coptic history and figures wrote to Watani about Anba Rweiss whom he knew personally as a graduate student in Toronto in the mid-1970s.

At the time Fr. Matthias, later Anba Rweiss, was assigned for pastoral service in Europe and North America. Dr. Abdel-Malek describes him as “a genuine ascetic”, used to perceive pastoral service as a matter of utmost gravity and himself not up to it.

General Bishop Anba Rweiss“If I speak of my soul, whose deepest secrets I thoroughly know and understand, and who I can reproach and correct; if this soul has fatigued me in bringing me to the path of Salvation, how could I be responsible for thousands of other souls that need to be saved, and who I should lead along that path?” Anba Rweiss said.

A few months after Fr. Matthias arrived in Toronto, his mother passed away. The Church in Cairo contacted Fr. Marcos Marcos, priest of the Coptic Church in Toronto, and asked him to relay the news to Fr. Matthias. The church elders met him but we’re at a loss of how to narrate the sad news.

He calmly looked at them and said: “You wish to tell me that my mother has passed away? Well, I passed away before she did. How can you offer condolences to a dead man?” He was referring, of course, to the vows he took as a monk, in which he renounced the world and accepted death in the ordination ritual.

According to Dr. Abdel-Malek, those residing in the neighborhood of Anba Rweiss say they used to see Bishop-General Anba Rweiss leave at night and wander nearby, his arms folded around his chest. He would slowly pace in the moonlight, his eyes raised to heaven, seeming to be in prayerful retreat.

Every Friday, he would wake up very early, and drive his old car to Coptic Cairo, to the church of the Holy Virgin, known as Qasriyet Al-Rihan Church. There he would conduct the Holey Mass, then go back quietly to his cell at Anba Rweiss place.

In his last days, Anba Rweiss was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Yet he continued to live in retreat in his cell at one of the buildings at Anba Rweiss areas.

He departed our world at age 81, peacefully and humbly as he had lived, a genuine hermit and ascetic. May God rest his soul in peace.

In his last days, Anba Rweiss was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Yet he continued to live in retreat in his cell at one of the buildings at Anba Rweiss areas.

He departed our world at age 81, peacefully and humbly as he had lived, a genuine hermit and ascetic. May God rest his soul in peace.

Delivered to you by COPTICNN™ | Coptic News Network on 2020-05-014 from Cairo, Egypt

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Dazzling Bishop Anba Rweiss Arrived Heaven In Peace (1939 – 2020)

About The Author

The Coptic News Network Association publishes an online Christian newspaper with a bi-weekly Christian digital magazine. Having established itself in May 1988 as a Coptic Christian Newsletter under "COPTIC TODAY™", it has grown to become the largest Coptic ethnic online news website in the world. It describes itself as, "The only independent Coptic newspaper in the world, that is not backed by any country, organization or party." Coptic News Network Association "COPTICNN™" are the pioneer independent news information service network offered to Coptic Orthodox Christians and all interested followers.

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