St Mark Church Welcomes You!
St Marks Coptic Orthodox Church welcomes you. There is something for everyone.
The Church holds weekly bible studies, prayer meetings, youth meetings and fellowship, where the roots and belief of our ancient faith are taught. But more importantly, it’s where your questions are answered. The Divine Liturgy is celebrated daily – a true taste of heaven on earth. Our family is diverse and we offer all our services in the spirit of love. Supporting children holistically there is also a dedicated Children’s Liturgy, the St Mark’s Education Centre and sports programs including Gymnastics and Judo.
Our Church and its Fathers have their arms wide open for anyone from any background.
We look forward to having you join our family.
The term “Coptic” is derived from the Greek “Aigyptos” meaning “Egyptian.“ So Coptic Orthodoxy is the Egyptian expression of Orthodox Christianity in the same way that there is Greek Orthodoxy or Russian Orthodoxy.
Orthodox means “right worship”
Orthodoxy is the way to salvation, handed down to the Apostles from Christ, preached by the Apostles to the world and preserved by the saints to this day. Looking at the etymology of the word, “Orthodox” is divided into “ortho-“ and “doxy”. “Ortho” is from the greek work, “orthos” meaning straight and “doxy” is from the greek word “doxa” meaning opinion. It is the Church that was begun by the Apostles of Jesus Christ, and worships in continuity with the earliest Church. In fact, Christianity first began in Egypt after the preaching of St Mark the Apostle in 43 AD.
Orthodoxy as original Christianity
Orthodoxy is not a denomination of Christianity, in that it was not a “new” or “off-shoot” Church. Rather it is pre-denominational in that it existed before the splits of Christianity.
Orthodoxy or Christianity is far from the common notion of a religion or a way of life, but it is a truth; a reality that stands on its own two feet, transcending the ever changing tide of theory and speculation. C.S. Lewis says, “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.” This quote resonates in each of our personal lives, in our pursuit for the truth, because if Christ was not the Son of God and he did not die and resurrect, then, “…then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!” (1 Corinthians 15:14-17). But, if Christ is the incarnate Word of God and the Bible holds the truth, then our lives are radically different. Our perspective of ourselves, of our intrinsic worth and purpose take on a whole new dimension.
Being Orthodox Christians, we put on the mindset of the fathers through our readings of the universal and timeless patristic writings. We take on their thought and spirit as a child takes on the refined thinking of their parent and we apply these kernels of truth to our own modern era. Being fully engaged in society, we discern and sanctify our society, enabling the Spirit to shine in the ever new perspective of the modern era. This removes the perspective of the church being archaic and nostalgic of its past, but in truth, the Orthodox Church is ever new, shining in each generation through the enlightenment of the Spirit and the acuteness of the sanctified mind.
St. Mark was born in Libya (west of Egypt) to Jewish parents, before they later migrated to Galilee, where Jesus spent the majority of His life. He was one of the seventy disciples of Christ and is often called “John Mark” in the New Testament. St. Mark was the writer of the earliest Gospel in 53 AD – the Gospel according to St Mark. His house (referred to as “The Upper Room”) is also home to many of the events mentioned within the Gospel; for example:
1. The Last Supper;
3. Jesus’ apparition after His resurrection & His encounter with Thomas (The Twin).
A number of years after the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ, St. Mark traveled with the likes of St. Peter and St. Paul to various lands preaching and undertaking missionary work – in 43 AD he traveled to Egypt where he preached the “good-news” and began preaching about The Risen Christ.
At the time of St Mark, Alexandria in Egypt was a cosmopolitan city filled with many different cultures owing to its geographical location. This great man was perfectly geared to preach to these people considering his upbringing and education. After preaching through the Southern lands of Egypt, he traveled to the eastern gate of Alexandria in 61 AD. During the long journey, his sandal strap tore. He went to a cobbler by the name of Ananias to have it repaired. While Ananias the cobbler was mending Saint Mark’s shoes, his finger was cut from the awl and he cried out: “O the one god!” Saint Mark healed the cobbler’s finger and spoke to him about who the “One God” really was (Egyptians believed in a plethora of Gods and so this may have been a reference to “Ra” the Sun God, who was often called the “king of the Gods”). Ananias invited Saint Mark to his home where he and his household were baptised after having professed their belief in the Christian Faith. Soon afterwards, many others believed and Ananias’s house became the meeting place for the faithful – in fact Ananias became St. Mark’s successor as the Bishop of Alexandria.
Christianity spread quickly throughout the land of Egypt – by 68 AD the infuriated pagans had St. Mark dragged behind a horse through streets of Alexandria in a bid to stop the new movement. Though St. Mark did not survive his injuries, the Church did not decay after his death, in fact it only grew stronger. A few centuries later, the whole of Egypt was Christian! In fact, persecution and martyrdom have been a major pillar on which Coptic Orthodoxy stood the test of time.
Our church strives to maintain the legacy of St. Mark’s multicultural mission in Australia and encourages people of all cultures to come and see our Ancient Church which was founded in the first century by St. Mark the apostle.
The hand of the Lord has been shown mighty and strong throughout the history of St Mark’s. The main church was initially bought in late 1978 under the stewardship of Fr Moussa Soliman. It was bought in order to meet the demands of the increasing waves of the faithful who were seeking to continue in the faith, which had been preserved for them through thousands of years and through many persecutions. The main church building has existed for over one hundred years, with the foundation stone being laid by the governor of New South Wales, Admiral Sir Harry Lawson, being officially opened in 1906. The first liturgy was prayed in February 1979 by Fr Moussa. The church building was then renovated and three large sanctuaries were built in Coptic-style by church servants. The church was then visited in November 1989 by the Thrice Blessed Pope Shenouda III and the Altar of St Mark was consecrated.
Through the grace of God, the church has greatly grown and expanded over the years, now serving over 1000 families across all of Sydney. Matching this growth, the church site has expanded to include the Coptic Orthodox Theological College (1982) educating future servants of the church and the St Archdeacon Habib Girgis Sunday School Building (1991) used to teach young children, raising them in the faith and in their love for the church. The church now also includes: an Upper Room Church dedicated for English services and which conducted the first English liturgy in Australia; a children’s church allowing children to learn the liturgical life of the church by leading it; and a second Sunday School building.
After establishing the church, Fr Moussa Soliman continued to serve the church until 1989. The church has since been blessed to have many priests serving it, including: Fr Tadros El-Bakhoumi (1986-1989), Fr Philopos Youssef (1989-1990), Fr Moussa El-Souriany (1989-1998).
Building on this foundation of love and the labours of those preceding them the church has seen the grace and blessing of God being showered upon it with the tremendous growth under its current priests. Each priest brings their own diverse talents to the church, whilst also maintaining the unity of love which has been the key to their success. Beginning with the ordination of Fr Yacoub Magdy in 1991, and the tireless effort of both him and his wife in welcoming new-comers to the church a spirit of love and service was fostered which continues till today. In 1998, Fr Augustinos Nada was transferred to St Mark’s Church to serve the growing needs of the parish and its youth, fitting in perfectly in building this love. Again the church required another priest to keep up with the growing numbers and so Fr Jonathan Ishak was chosen from amongst the servants of the church and was ordained in 2003. Another nine years followed before one of the youth who had been raised at St Mark’s was chosen to become the next priest in order to cater for the burgeoning number of youth, with Fr Mark Basily being ordained in 2012. Since then by the grace of God the church has continued to grow and so in 2015 Fr Michael Fanous was ordained a priest and later on Fr Elijah Iskander and also Fr David Shehata.
Father Yacoub is the senior priest of St. Marks Coptic Orthodox Church. He was ordained a priest in 1991 by the late Pope Shenouda III and later ordained hegumen in 2003.
Prior to his ordination he was an Engineering Professor at the University of Wollongong.
Fr. Yacoub along side his late wife Tasoni Awatef raised 5 children and thousands of spiritual children within the church. He takes great care in serving each individual holistically – spiritually, academically, socially and physically.
Fr Augustinos was ordained as a priest at St Bakhomious Coptic Orthodox Church in 1996 and was transferred to support Fr. Yacoub at St Marks in 1998 and then later ordained hegumen in 2004.
Fr. Augustinos has worked very closely with the youth of the Church engaging them through an array of spiritual and social services. In addition to this he is responsible for missionary work and interstate campus ministry.
Fr. Augustinos is also renowned for his love for cooking and often spoils his congregation with delicious meals.
Fr Jonathan was ordained as a priest of St Marks Coptic Orthodox Church in 2003 by HG. Bishop Daniel.
Prior to his ordination, he worked as a Lecturer of Statistics at UTS. Fr Jonathan looks after the elderly members of the community, often taking the church youth to visit members of the community who are in nursing homes and hospitals.
He is also in charge of enlightening the church by filling the Bookshop with spiritual publications.
ايها الأحباء لنحب بعضنا بعضا..لأن المحبة هى من الله و كل من يحب فقد ولد من الله و يعرف الله..و من لا يحب لم يعرف الله لأن الله محبة
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Fr Mark was ordained a priest of St Marks Coptic Orthodox church in 2012 by H.E. Metropolitan Bachomious.
Prior to his ordination Fr. Mark worked as a strategy consultant but was compelled by a higher calling to serve God and His Church.
Fr. Mark is passionate about serving the young Children who are the future of the Church.
Fr Michael Fanous is the most recently ordained priest of St Marks Coptic Orthodox Church being ordained in 2015 by H.G Bishop Daniel.
Fr Michael migrated to Australia at the age of 14, graduated from the university of Sydney and then married his wife tasoni Mona.
They raised two boys in the fear of God who went on to both become priests – Fr. Daniel and Fr. Paul. Fr. Michael is a source of wisdom for parents seeking advice on how to raise spiritually minded well balanced children.
Fr Elijah was ordained a priest of St Mark’s in 2016 by HG Bishop Daniel. Prior to his ordination, Fr Elijah worked as a General Practitioner, aiding those in need of help.
Fr. Elijah now mimics this in his intense focus on service to the youth of our church, striving to create a precious environment within the church for many years.
Fr David was ordained a Priest in 2016 by HG Bishop Daniel. Before his ordination, Fr. David brought smiles to many as a dentist. Now, Fr. David brings smiles to the hearts of our youth and our interstate students through his spiritual guidance.
Liturgies and Meetings are held daily here at St. Mark's. Come and join us!