Virgin Mary Coptic Orthodox Church
L'ÉGLISE COPTE ORTHODOXE DE LA VIERGE MARIE
Ten deacons in the Coptic Orthodox Church get ordained from chanter to reader.
Ten men from St-Mary Coptic Orthodox church, St-Hubert were ordained on the morning of Feb. 19. The Coptic Orthodox Bishop of the Ottawa and Montreal diocese, Bishop Boulos, was present to ordain them.
Deacon is a Syrian word that means servant. Their role is to help the priest or bishop in his religious service. There are five ranks of deacons. The first rank is chanter, Epsaltos in Copt. The minimum requirements for a male to become a chanter is to be at least six years old and to have a minimum 80 per cent attendance in deacons class after six months. The chanter’s only duties are to learn the church hymns, the Coptic language, and the rites of the church.
Fady Farag and George Maximos were ordained as chanters and as readers together. Farag said that he feels nostalgic because it brings back memories with his best friend.
“It is just a nice feeling to remember how we are sticking together in every step and makes me proud of our friendship since we push each other to be the best we can,” said Farag.
The second rank is the reader, Anagnostes in Copt, which has stricter requirements than the chanter. For a male to be a reader, he must be at least 16 years old. His good deeds and manners must be witnessed by everyone. He must be recommended by the priest and congregation, without any objection. He also has to be able to read and properly understand the Holy Bible.
“A reader has to be ready for service,” said Bishop Boulos.
Compared to the chanter, being a reader comes with more responsibilities. Like reading the daily readings in church, preaching, teaching, and understanding well the Holy Bible to be able to teach it to younger generations or even the older ones.
The ordination happens during the liturgy, the nominee stands before the altar without wearing his traditional uniform which consist of a tunic and a stole. His uniform needs to be folded properly in his hands. The bishop then asks the crowd if the nominees deserve to be ordained and, if everyone is in favor, the ordination begins.
The bishop cuts five locks of hair in the sign of the cross: one in the middle of their heads, the others on the four sides of their heads. Cutting their hair symbolizes the removal of all evil thoughts with each cut symbolizing one of the five wounds of Jesus on the cross. While he is doing so, he blesses them with three blessings, after each one of them, the crowd says “Amen”. The bishop then explains to the readers their new responsibilities and duties. The nominees then put their uniform on, they prostrate before the altar and enter it.
“I feel blessed to be ordained as a Reader,” said Maximos. But at the same time, he shared that he feels anxious to live up to what is expected from him.
Mark El-Masry said right after his ordination that he has to be the example and lead by example.
Farag shared a similar thought to El-Masry, he said that his actions have to be very well calculated since children and future generations will look up to him.
“It’s a blessing rather than being in a position of honor,” he said.