20th Year Documentation of the history of the Monastery of St Shenouda in Putty
Shortly, with the prayers of the His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St Mark, His Grace Bishop Daniel El Antouny, the head of the Monastery of St Shenouda The Archimandrite in Sydney/NSW will head the 20th year anniversary celebration since the inauguration, by his Holiness Pope Shenouda III, God bless his soul. The Monastery passed into 3 stages to reach its current flourishing status of a well established Monastery recognized by The Holy Synod. The idea came in 1990 from Dr. Medhat Guirgis – The Secretary of the NSW State Board of The Coptic Orthodox Church at the time and his wife Dr. Sara Fuirgis – to give a present from the son and daughter to their Father H H Pope Shenouda III. H H devoted his life to re-build the old un-occupied monasteries and promote monasticism in the Coptic Orthodox Church. This would provide the NSW Diocese with one of the pillars of the Coptic Orthodox Church. The hard work to establish the Monastery was completed with the prayers and blessings of H H Pope Shenouda by the Very Reverend Fr Tadros Elbakhoumi who was experienced in the construction of monasteries after successfully re-building the ancient St Bakhomious Monastery in Edfo in the 1970’s.
First stage: The constructions since 1991 till 1995
1. The Very Reverend Father Tadros Elbakhomi, Mr. Soubhi Nicola and Mr. Issa Tadros made many trips, taking the burdens and hardships of travelling around NSW to find a suitable place. Finally in early 1991 find a spot around 110 Acres was found in Putty 150 km away from Sydney about. This land was perfect and commensurate with the monastic life. Then the land was purchased by Dr. Medhat Guirgis & his wife Dr Sara Guirgis.
2. In one of his visits to Australia in the same year His Eminence Metropolitan Bishoy, the Secretary of The Holy Synod at the time, visited the parcel of land. His Eminence was impressed, blessed the land, and prayed for the completion of the work. His Eminence’s signature was imprinted on one of the trees there.
3. The hard work started by preparing the architectural drawings to build a church, a hall, a kitchen as well as four quarters – (Klaly) for the monks according to the regulations of the Putty City Council’s.
4. Father Tadros Albakhomi and both engineers Sobhi and Issa, lobbied intensively with the authorities until finally, the miracle happened and they got the DA approved.
5. The process of preparing the land and construction under the supervision of Fr Tadros continued reaching its final stages and in 1993 His Holiness Pope Shenouda III blessed the monastery and laid the cornerstone after the prayers of Thanks Giving. His Holiness Pope Shenouda III thanked the V Rev Tadros Elbakhomi and the other servants participating in the project. H H gave some observations that he would like to add before his next visit to celebrate the inauguration of the monastery.
6. After completion of the monastery buildings and the provision of water, electricity, and telephone facilities H H Pope Shenouda III visited the monastery for the second time on 26 August 1995 amid the joy of the Coptic community and celebrated the inauguration of the monastery. Dr. Medhat Guirgis and his wife transferred the ownership to H H as a gift on the occasion of the Silver Jubilee of the Coptic Orthodox church In Australia. So the Contracts were exchanged and were signed by father Tadros Elbakhomi as a witness in his capacity as a Justice of the Peace in accordance with Australian law.
7. Then Pope Shenouda III handed the monastery keys to the priest Pavlos Anba Bishoy.
Second stage: development and attraction 1996 till 2006
This phase started with the leadership of Fr Pavlos El Anba Bishoy and Fr Bishoy who played a prominent role in the advancement of the monastery as a result of their faith and strong relationship with the Coptic people and good hospitality in the monastery. An increased number of the visitors flocked to the monastery, especially the youth during the public holidays and in the weekends. Under their leadership the following was achieved
1. The number of monks increased in the monastery during this period as follows:
a. Shenouda was ordained a monk under name WISSA on 1999/4/3 then priest on 2002/1/92 by Pope Shenouda III.
b. Both John and Daniel requested to be monks on 2000, then became monks under names Shenouda and Theodor on 2004/2/22.
2. The area of the land was increased in three phases, till reaching 268 acres now.
3. Building a large workshop, and the purchase of heavy and light equipment for use in agriculture, construction, and architectural constructions.
4. using areas in the land for cultivation, and establish farms raising birds and cows and sheep.
5. Construction of new buildings including twelve monks’s Quarters, a private dwelling for the Bishop of the monastery, kitchen for visitors, a hall and library for the monks, as well as a medical facility. In addition to Bethlehem (a room for making the Eucharist) there was also another separate building for visitors to the monastery include a large kitchen, a hall, a library for the visitors, and seven extension guest house to accommodate 28 guests with toilets. This building was used for spiritual seekers or church youth trips. His Holiness Pope Shenouda III blessed this construction on his last visit to Australia by the end of 2002.
Third stage: the recognition from 2006 so far:
His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, decided to assign Fr Daniel El Antony to take over the Affairs of the monastery after the return of Fr Pavlos to Cairo. Fr. Daniel was ordained in 2009 as a Bishop for the monastery in 2009 with the name H G Bishop Daniel. During his time, the monastery implemented the conditions that allow the Holy Synod to officially recognize the monastery including:
1. Complete the construction of the gate of the monastery including two small towers – (Manara) , and also a metal bell beside the Church.
2. Establishment of the “Altafoos” a building of a private cemetery for the monks who pass away.
After the Monastery’s recognition by the Holy Synod H G Bishop Daniel started further projects on the land of the monastery:
1. Laying the foundation stone for the Cathedral construction project in 2014, after the monastery access permits from government agencies responsible.
2. The monastery became a major educational for the new priests for the period condition of forty days as a new priest.
3. Ordaining the monk Fr Wissa to be a Hegoman, and ordaining the monks Shenouda and Theodor to became priests. Moreover, other two persons called Moses and Daniel requested to be monks on 6/01/2014.
4. Increasing the monastery land to 418 acres now.
To mark the occasion we give here a simple summary of the history of the monastery. We congratulate all who toiled for the establishment and advancement of the monastery and ask God to bless them and reward them for their efforts in completing the process of monasticism in NSW with the blessing and prayers of his Holiness Pope Tawadros II, H G Bishop Daniel the head of the monastery of Anba Shenouda The Archimandrite, H G Bishop Daniel the Bishop of Sydney & Affiliated regions, and all our Orthodox bishops.