church of The Virgin Mary and St. Athanasius started in April 1974 when
four Coptic families organized a weekly prayer meeting for Coptic
families and youth. The group met every Friday evening at one of their
homes. The first meeting, in May 1974, was led by Father Marcos of St.
Mark's Church in Toronto.
The meeting was named " St. Athanasius " after our Coptic father the
defender of the Christian faith. Bible studies, Coptic hymns and prayers
were practiced, Father Marcos, Father Mankarius Awadalla, and Father
Mittias EL Souriany (currently H.G. Bishop Roweis) took charge of the
meeting at various times. In August 1974, Father Pishoi Kamel
(1931-1979), of St. George Coptic Church, Sporting, Alexandria, visited
group spent some time with him listening to the word of God. At one of
the meetings, Father Pishoi suggested to get in touch with H.H. Pope
Shenouda III and to register a Coptic church. The group accepted Father
Pishoi's advice as they felt that this message was from God. The group
wrote a letter to H.H. the Pope in August 1974 about the weekly meeting
and their desire to register a new church in Toronto and asked for
H.H.'s prayers, blessings and guidance. A few weeks later, the group met
to select the name of the new church. They voted unanimously for "The
Church of Virgin Mary and St. Athanasius".
In October 1974, inquiries
were made to register a church. The information was phoned to H.H. who gave his
blessings, and approval to proceed. His Holiness provided advice, encouragement,
as well as his blessings. The new church was incorporated on March 13, 1975.
During H.H. Pope Shenouda's visit to North America in 1977, a meeting took place
on Thursday April 28, 1977. All eight members of the founding Board attended
this meeting, and H.H. selected Mississauga as the site for the new church.
In March 1978, the Saint
Athanasius weekly prayer meeting was moved to St. Thomas Moore school by Father
Marcos of Saint Mark Church, Scarborough. Many of our beloved priests took turn
in coming to serve our congregation.
On September 9th, 1978, H.G
Bishop Roweis announced the birth of the new church in Mississauga. In November,
1978, the founding Board phoned H.H. the Pope and obtained his blessing for a
weekly Liturgy service to take place on Saturday mornings in Mississauga. The
first Divine Liturgy was held at St. Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church, December 2,
1978. From that date until May 1981, the Liturgy was celebrated weekly on
Saturday mornings, with the Vespers service and the Sunday School on Friday
evenings. Many priests participated in serving the church in Mississauga.
As the congregation grew,
new services were established, such as the monthly news letter "Athanasius"
which was first published in February 1979. Sunday School activities expanded
significantly to include 3 classes for children, one youth class and a Sunday
School servant's class. A Building committee was formed, as well as a committee
for outreach. A library service was initiated to provide books and tapes for the
congregation. Also, a deacon's choir was established for children.
In November 1980, H.G.
Bishop Roweis nominated Dr. Adel Iskander as priest for Mississauga. The Board
and congregation voted by means of a secret ballot on December 6, 1980, the
result was a
unanimous consent. His Holiness Pope Shenouda III ordained Dr. Iskander on March
27, 1981 as Father Athanasius, to serve the Copts in Mississauga and vicinities.
On the eve of the feast of
St, Athanasius, May 14th, 1981, Father Athanasius was "received" according to
the rituals of the church, in a joyous celebration that was led by Bishop
Antonios Marcos, at Rene Lamoureux school. The reception was attended by
representatives from other churches, officials and the media.
During the following 18
months, the church relocated 6 times while the Building committee investigated
34 places for a permanent church location. In July 1982, the place that God had
prepared for the church appeared. The acquisition of the property was completed
on October 30, 1982 and the first liturgy service was celebrated with joy and
thanksgiving on November 14, 1982.
For the eight years that
followed, the congregation of the church grew quickly due to families relocating
closer to the church and newcomers establishing themselves near the church site.
The old building used by Sunday School was renovated in order to accommodate the
growing number of children. Also during this period, Father Mankarios Awadalla
was transferred from Ottawa to Mississauga to help serve the growing number of
church members. In August 1989, H. H. Pope Shenouda consecrated the church of
Virgin Mary and St. Athanasius in a service attended by several bishops,
priests, officials and hundreds of Copts.
For the next two years the
church grew rapidly and was serving a very wide area. Many families traveled
from St. Catharines, Hamiltoln, and Brampton to attend the liturgy service and
to bring their children to Sunday School. Near the end of 1991 the church took
the blessing of His Holiness Pope Shenouda III for the registration of the two
churches and proceeded to look for available properties for church sites around
Hamilton as well as in Brampton in order to fill the growing need and to better
serve the congregation.
committees chose St. Mina as a name for their respective churches. However,
since the Hamilton's church registration was processed faster it now bears the
name of St. Mina. The church of Brampton was named after Archangel Michael. On
July lst, 1992, the first liturgy service took place at the church of St. Mina
in Hamilton, Ontario; also, on July 4th, 1992, the first liturgy service took
place at the church of Archangel Michael in Brampton. The church of St. Mina was
consecrated by His Holiness Pope Shenouda III on September 28, 1993.
The Canadian Coptic Centre and new church and
facilities were completed in 1998.