|30 glorious years|
|Anba Moussa, Bishop of Youth… The three Ss, Four Ps, and the H club|
|Father Matthew Attia|
23 May 2010
On 25 May 1980, the great shepherd His Holiness Pope Shenouda III ordained the first Bishop for Youth, His Grace Bishop Moussa. It was Pentecost Sunday, and it marked the beginning of a golden era for youth ministry in the Church. Indeed we all “thank God upon every remembrance of you.” (Philippians 1:3).
Bishop Moussa is a visionary youth leader who has emphasised a holistic approach to ministry. He focuses on developing and nourishing the person’s body, soul, mind and spirit. His warm and receptive character, coupled with his youthful spirit, has touched and directed the lives of many.
Homilist and author
His Grace Bishop Moussa is a very attractive and effective speaker. All his sermons and talks are unique in content and structure. Listeners are able to follow carefully the subject and emerge from the meeting knowing the content of the sermon. His sermons demonstrate how widely read and well-versed His Grace is. Simple yet deep, the sermons rapidly penetrate into the hearts of the listeners.
He taught us the three Ss as the key to a successful spiritual life. Namely: have a spiritual father, a spiritual program and a spiritual environment. Also, the H club: be healthy, happy, holy and heavenly. To those about to marry he stressed the following: Pray a lot, think a lot, feel a little and seek spiritual guidance.
Every Easter and Christmas for the last 30 years Bishop Moussa has issued a small book of contemplations on various themes and from various perspectives on the Resurrection and Nativity of our Lord Jesus. Other valuable books include Holy Spirit, Features of Orthodox Teaching, The Church, How to Serve Youth, The Youth and Family, Milestones to Kingdom, Youth and Pure Living, to name but a few.
Under the guidance of His Grace Bishop Moussa, the Bishopric of Youth arranges annual conferences in July and August for youth in Egypt. Also, winter conventions are held in January across the Upper Egypt Dioceses. His Grace purchased a property (near Alexandria) to establish a conference centre containing chapel, halls and dormitories.
In 1989, His Holiness Pope Shenouda delegated His Grace Bishop Moussa to conduct annual conventions in Europe, Canada, USA and Australia. These conferences have left an indelible mark on the character and lives of thousands of youth worldwide. At the centre of all conferences are the liturgies which Bishop Moussa considers paramount for enhancing fellowship among the youth.
Through the inspirational leadership of His Grace Bishop Moussa, the Bishopric issues monthly magazines: The Message of the Church Youth, and The Branches for youth under 20 years of age. Since 1996 a bimonthly magazine is produced called The Word, for youth servants. One of the best publications has been 200 Topics for Youth Meetings, together with Keys to Successful Youth Ministry.
Bishop Moussa established the St Timothy Centre for Biblical Studies which produced numerous booklets and pamphlets on various books of the Bible useful for youth.
His Grace encouraged youth, priests and servants to write and produce books on a variety of subjects. He carefully read, revised and wrote introductions to these books.
With the expansion in publications, the Bishopric established an impressive bookshop adjacent to its office at St Mark’s Cathedral in Abbasiya, Cairo.
Many youth, servants, monks and priests were discipled through the love and personal touch of His Grace Bishop Moussa. For the last three decades the Bishopric produced many dedicated and faithful servants among them: His Grace Bishop Rafael (ordained June 1997), three celibate priests (ordained November 1996), over 25 consecrated deaconesses, all serving and labouring in one spirit for the welfare of young people.
Youth Servants Training Centre
In order to enhance and equip youth servants with sound spiritual, theological and biblical resources and contemporary, social and moral issues, Bishop Moussa established the Youth Leaders Centre in 1995. Over 2000 youth servants have graduated from the Centre in the last 15 years. To all the youth servants Bishop Moussa highlighted the four Ps: Prayer, Preparation, Participation and Personal Touch.
Every year thousands of students descend upon Cairo to commence University life. His Grace Bishop Moussa conducts special seminars for them, giving them direction and care as they compete with the challenges of studies and career and being away from home.
Reaching all the youth through multimedia resources is a priority for His Grace Bishop Moussa. Accordingly, the Bishopric has a rich website page (Arabic/English), www.youthbishopric.org, covering a wealth of suitable material for youth and servants. From here you can download sermons, liturgies and hymns, ideas for youth meetings, conferences and retreats.
Sewing and Embroidery Workshop (Mashghall)
In order to utilise different skills and rationalise Church resources, Bishop Moussa established the Phoebe Sewing Rooms within the Bishopric in 1996. There, liturgical vestments for bishops, priests and deacons as well as altar cloths and sanctuary drapes are made.
To address the needs of the very young, His Grace Bishop Moussa established an orphanage which today houses some 55 children supervised by the deaconesses.
Over the last three decades His Grace introduced the concept of seminars for youth and servants to address various issues such as addiction (drugs and smoking), cloning, ideologies of the 20th and 21st centuries, religious fanaticism (causes and effects on Egypt) and human rights. His Grace would invite speakers who are experts in their fields, including Muslim academics.
David the Prophet Centre
Keen to preserve the beauty and heritage of the Coptic hymns, His Grace Bishop Moussa established the David the Prophet Centre to teach Coptic language and liturgical hymns. Courses in Coptic language are conducted every summer vacation to ensure our rich heritage is handed down to generations.
Through the pastoral leadership of Bishop Moussa, the Bishopric established an economic development committee to provide financial assistance for youth in cases needing monthly assistance to tertiary students, crisis cases, preparation for marriage and job and career starters.
Bishop Moussa is a great ambassador for the Church in Egypt and abroad. His Holiness Pope Shenouda delegated Bishop Moussa to attend several ecumenical conferences such as WCC Assembly in Canberra in 1991, the MECC Assembly in Cyprus in 1990, 1994 and 1998. Bishop Moussa, together with Metropolitan Bishoy serve on steering committees of the Oriental Orthodox Patriarch (of the Middle East) Annual meeting since 1998. Bishop Moussa served on the Oriental Orthodox World Alliance of Reformed Churches Dialogue between 1996-2001. He encouraged youth to serve as stewards in various regional and international Ecumenical Conferences. He also established a Youth Ecumenical Committee within the Bishopric to foster good relations with Christian Churches in Egypt.
In order to unify the youth in Egypt, His Grace Bishop Moussa commenced Annual Competitions covering various topics such as Scripture, Church Rites, Church History and contemporary issues. These competitions take different forms of presentation such as research essays, book reviews and PowerPoint presentations. A presentation night presided over by His Holiness Pope Shenouda and the participating dioceses and parishes attend and are awarded trophies and gifts. In 2009, under the theme Be Perfect, over 500,000 people participated across Egypt and abroad.
Born Emile Aziz on 30th November 1938, the man who is today Anba Moussa graduated from the Faculty of Medicine in 1966 and subsequently served as a consecrated deacon, focusing on youth ministry in Beni Sweif under the auspices of the late Metropolitan Athanasius. In 1975 he took monastic vows as Father Angellos al-Baramousy. In 1978 Pope Shenouda ordained him Chori Episcopos and on 25th May 1980 he became the first Bishop for Youth.
We are all indebted to His Grace Bishop Moussa. Your teachings have edified us, your writings uplifted us, your advice enlightened us and your preaching nourished us. Throughout three decades of selfless love, invaluable dedication and commitment, you have touched the lives of millions of Orthodox youth worldwide. May our Lord Jesus, source of all blessings, preserve the life of our precious father, Bishop Moussa for many peaceful and blessed years through the prayers of our beloved shepherd His Holiness Pope Shenouda III.
Father Matthew Attia is the pastor of St George Church, Sydney Australia