A historical event in the correctional centre in NSW, Australia:
For the first time in the history of all correctional centres in Australia and all countries abroad out of Egypt; on Thursday 12/01/23 (4th of the Coptic Month Tooba- the feast of the departure of St. John the beloved of our Lord and the evangelist apostle), the very first COPTIC Orthodox Holy Mass in full was prayed inside Geoffrey Pearce correctional center, which is by the support of our Lord and the kind approval of the governor, and with the kind assistance of the acting governor as well as the prison chaplain.
The Coptic Orthodox Holy Mass is the oldest mass in the whole world, which took place after the holy mass, which was prayed by St. James the apostle of the Lord with the rest of the apostles and disciples, taking place in the Upper room of Zion (i.e., in the house of St. Mark the apostle at Jerusalem). This occurred on Wednesday after the Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended from heaven on the apostles.
On the following day (Thursday), St. Mark the apostle prayed the second holy mass also with the rest of the apostles and disciples in the same place (i.e., the upper room at his house).
The word COPTIC means Egyptian, it is derived from the ancient Hieroglyphic language of the pharaohs.
St. Mark the apostle came to Egypt year 42 AD, established the church in Egypt and delivered us the holy mass, which he prayed with the apostles; we kept the wordings and the rituals of this holy mass without any change since then and until now. This holy mass became well known by the ‘Egyptian Mass’ which equals to the ‘Coptic mass’.
When the division occurred between the orthodox and catholic, year 451 AD, the Coptic mass took the name of the ‘Coptic orthodox mass’ and this is what had been prayed on 12th with the inmates at Geoffrey Pearce correctional centre.
Very Rev. Fr. Tadros El-Bakhoumi started serving the Christian orthodox inmates’ year 1999 and has continued till now. He serves the Christian orthodox inmates in all correctional centres all over NSW. On that day 12/01/23 of the holy mass, Fr. John Sorial helped Fr. Tadros in the mass, which required a lot of preparation and organising things. With them there were 3 deacons of the church, who kindly put the effort and took time off work for the success of this great historical event. This service helped and continues to help a lot of the inmates to repent and change their life both in and out of custody and all the Christian orthodox inmates are very happy with this service and anxiously wait for it every 4-5 weeks.
It is a great joy that this service has grown until we reached praying the full holy mass inside the correctional centre; the holy mass started at 9:00AM and finished by 11:15AM, then a BBQ as well as different sorts of Egyptian food and sweets was made and prepared for all the inmates who attended the Holy Mass, which was all paid for by the Coptic Orthodox Church.
We thank the Lord for this great blessing that He bestowed upon us on that blessed day.