Holy Virgin Mary and Saint Pishoy Coptic Orthodox Church in Los Angeles was adorned throughout with arches of palm tree branches for the enthronement of His Grace Bishop Serapion. Over 100 deacons from all of the parish churches and all the priests were waiting for His Grace’s arrival. Accompanied by six bishops, His Grace entered into a church filled to capacity with over 1,000 persons.
The six bishops accompanying His Grace were Their Graces Metropolitan Hedra of Aswan (where His Grace grew up); Bishop Sarapamon, the head of the Monastery of Saint Pishoy, where His Grace spent several years as a monk; Bishop Ruiess, a general bishop; Bishop Mettaous, the head of the Monastery of Saint Mary in Wadi El Natrun (also known as Deir El Suryan); the late Bishop Karas, head of Saint Antony Monastery in Yermo, California; and Bishop Youssef, bishop of the newly formed Diocese of the Southern United States.
The bishops took turns reading the Proclamation of Enthronement in both Arabic and English. Afterwards, they all signed the proclamation. Short speeches were delivered by His Grace Bishop Ruiess on behalf of the bishops; by Hegumen Father Antonios Younan Soliman on behalf of the priests in English; and by Father Bishoy Mikhail Brownfield on behalf of the priests in English. Gaby Rafael spoke on behalf of the laymen while Mark Hanna spoke on behalf of the youth.
His Grace Bishop Serapion then spoke in both Arabic and English, giving thanks to God for the blessing he received, to His Holiness for his trust, and to all the bishops, priests, and people who welcomed him. He then spoke about love, quoting extensively from the First Epistle of Saint John. He said he planned as much as possible to visit and know all the parishioners in the Diocese. Also, he mentioned three areas in which he is especially committed to the service:
- Serving the youth, the future of the Church, in this difficult and tempting atmosphere
- Family stability, which, in turn, helps children grow in a wholesome atmosphere and leads to church stability
- Communion with the mother church in Egypt. He said that we need them more than they need us. The bond of love and service should be kept strong by all possible means.
Following the conclusion of the service, he stood to greet everyone in the church for almost one hour. It was a truly happy occasion and a new chapter in the life of the Copts and their parishes in Southern California.
Adapted from Khalil, Dr. Elhamy. The Making of a Diocese. Los Angeles: Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Los Angeles, 2008.