Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria will be visiting Red Deer for the first time ever later this month, a historical day for all members of the City’s Coptic Orthodox congregation.
He will be in the City on Sept. 17th.
The Coptic Orthodox Church only has about 53 churches across Canada. Previous Popes have visited Alberta, but only stopped in Calgary. This visit will only last a short hour but is very meaningful and exciting for members of the church.
“It’s a big thing and we’re very excited about it. It’s a very historical event for us, and the people we invited from the community are very interested,” said Dr. Kamal Daniel, a board member of the St. Mary & St. George Coptic Orthodox Church.
“He will come, give us a blessing, see the church, give a small speech to our VIP guests and then he will give us another blessing and leave. That’s how short it is, but to us it’s historical! We have no idea when it could happen again. It’s only an hour but that’s a lifetime for us.”
Pope Tawardros II will visit a large congregation in Calgary, which is expected to draw a crow of nearly 1,500 people. On his way to visit an Edmonton church, he will be stopping in Red Deer at the St. Mary and St. George Coptic Orthodox Church to give a small blessing to about 100 people including Mayor Tara Veer and several members of City council.
“We are lucky because I don’t think that this will happen again. We are a very small church and the Pope has a very busy schedule. His main goal right now is to organize all these new churches that are coming along in the west,” explained Daniel.
Members of the community who wish to see Pope Tawadros’s arrival may see him from the streets as he enters the church, but are not permitted to view the blessing. The church will be at nearly full capacity at 100 people, all of who received special invitations and security allowances.
He will be spending an hour in town in recognition of the growth of the church in Mountview.
“We are a new church, now the newest in Alberta. We just got the church three years ago and it’s a small congregation, only 20 families. He’s happy with our congregation because we were able to buy this church and actually buy a home next door for future expansion.”
Local historian Michael Dawe will oversee this event. Daniel said it is unlikely that another Pope will come to visit the Red Deer congregation, due to its small size.
He added his congregation is very excited, but also quite nervous. He said there is a lot of preparation to do, and that they hope to make a good impression.
“It’s a lot of work, but we are loving it.”