THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION CHURCH OF THE GREEK MELKITE CATHOLICS
The Immaculate Conception church was built in 1942, when
This church is called in Arabic language "Al Azrah al Tahira" (the Virgin the All-Pure) but from the foundation it is known also by the French name of "IMMACULEE CONCEPTION" to honor the dogma of the Immaculate Conception proclaimed by the Pope Pius IX on
The engineer-architect was greek-catholic of the parish of "St Mary of Peace", in Garden City. His name was Naoum Shebib. He became famous when he built the
Unfortunately he did not see his name on a commemorative marble plaque, as he could expect. He emigrated to
The Greek Catholic commander Thabet Thabet has been the main benefactor, offering in 1940 the sum of 3000 Egyptian Pounds (according to oral information) for the construction of the church, the parish priest's house and the
Another greek catholic commander, Elias Habib Toutounji, executed the testament of Thabet Thabet and contributed with his own money to complete the works. In a prophetical vision, the Patriarch Cyril IX Al Moghabghab - had bought in the thirties all the land around the church, when
After about 50 years from the foundation, the parishioners decided to restore the church. The restoratoin was executed during the period 1992-1995 under the supervision of the engineer Edward Youssef Kadi while the repairing works of the arcades cracked by a recent earthquake (1992) were under the responsibility of our parishioner the Engineer Georges Habib El-Hag, deceased in
Some of the byzantine icons have been painted by the greek artist Wassiliou, who has many works in several churches and chapels of
The faithful of the Immaculate Conception Parish number nearly 300 families of the greek melkite catholic community.
This church had 4 parish priests in the past 62 years.
The first parish priest was the Archimandrite Gregorios Agami (1942-1962/ 1972-1983) born in
The second parish priest was the Archimandrite Ignace Raad (1962-1972). After a very rich and successful experience in the Ecclesiastical Tribunals, he served the Sacred Roman Rota in the
The third parish priest was Father Adel Ghali of the patriarchal clergy (1984-1989). For one year he was the Director of the College Patriarcal of Heliopolis (formerly "College des Freres"). Now he is serving the Church as chaplain in a hospital in Sao Jose (
At present Father Maurice Khoury is the parish priest of this church and the author of this article. He studied Philosophy in Barazil. At the end of the studies of Theology in the Saint Anne Seminary of Jerusalem, directed by the White Fathers, he was ordained priest in Saydnaya, the village of his parents in Syria, by the first bishop for the greek catholics of Brazil, Mgr. Elias Coueter, on August 29th 1965. He served then the Eparchy of Our Lady of Paradise in the Cathedral of Sao Paulo for thirteen years as Assistant Pastor. With the permission of his Superiors, he has been on a mission outside Brazil since 1980. He was responsible of two parishes in Syria (Kafarbohom and Yabroud) for 6 years. He is serving in Egypt since 1986. He started assuming the charge of Parish Priest on September 8th 1989.
He is the author of three books in different languages, Portuguese, French and Arabic : in portuguese "Maria Rosa, o Dom de Consolar" Charism of Consolation, and "Aida Curi - O Preço foi a Propria Vida" the price was her own life (4 editions - Edicoes Paulinas Sao Paulo); in French and Arabic "Catechism for the Solemn Communion". He published also a great number of articles and poems in the only catholic newspaper of Egypt "Le Messager", edited in both languages, Arabic and French. He is preparing a new book: "Boutros Cassab, the Upper Egypt Apostle".
We have to mention also that next to the church there is the Dar Al Ailat (Le Foyer) which assembles the faithful of all the Patriarchate. The Dar has been built by Youssef Toutounji and his wife Alia, in memory of their two deceased children at a very early age, Henry and Doris. Recently a new building has been built behind the Dar by a generous benefactor of the Community. Soon it will serve the activities of the Patriarchate and the Greek Catholic Welfare Society.
We should mention our Choir, founded by Sister Marie Abdelkarim of the Congregation of Notre Dame du Perpetuel Secours, who lives now in Forn Al Chubek (Lebanon). The Choir was afterwards directed by John Constandi Ackad followed by Father Rafik Greich before his priestly ordination. At present it is under the responsibility of Mr. Ashraf Shatawi. Sometimes some of its members are invited by the Opera of Cairo for recitals on byzantine liturgical songs.
We must also mention the Mixed Patriarchal School managed with competence since 1971 by Mother Aghape Natal of the Congregation of the Sisters of Notre Dame du Perpetuel Secours.
A religious community of the Congregation of the Daughers of Mary has its residence next to the church. They arrived in Egypt twenty years ago, coming from Trivandum (India) to teach in one of our Patriarchal colleges. They are helping the Parish priest during the most important liturgical periods. They are Sisters Krupa Thomas, Udaya Kurien and Louis-Marie.
Our parish is developing in these last years a charitable activity under the name of "Matthew 25", concerned about the service of poor, old and sick people. This group is made up of anonymous benefactors. The main purpose is above all to live in the Parish the life of the first Christian Cmmunity (confer the Acts of the Apostles 2 : 44-45 and 4 : 32-34).
This web site has been launched by one of our parishioners, Dr. Rafik Haddad, to make known our parish and to enable all the faithful of the parish who are living in the countries of emigration ( Canada, USA, Australia, Brazill … ) to see their church and know the new developments.
So this site can be a "meeting-point" for all the parishioners, from everywhere. They will see, feel and touch our beloved church, where Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception unites us in God.
Archimandrite Maurice Khoury