On Saturday 15 September, ACL's Managing Director Jim Wallace and ACL Victorian Director Dan Flynn were among the guests of His Grace Bishop Suriel at the grand opening of the Saint Mina & Saint Marina's Coptic Church in Hallam, Victoria. Guests included numerous Federal and State MP's and Councillors from the City of Casey.
In March 1993, the late Coptic Pope visited the site in Hallam to lay the foundation stone and famously declared that "just as our Lord Jesus Christ was born in a manger, so too we will build the church in this cattle shed".
The unrelenting efforts of the congregation has resulted in the completion of a $6 million three story church which is a prominent landmark in the City of Casey. The new church is the home parish to approximately 600 families. Many of these families have recently arrived in Melbourne after fleeing persecution in Egypt.
Father Abanoub Attalla, the Parish Priest of St Mina & St Marina, was warmly acknowledged for his pastoral leadership of the families and youth of the Coptic community in Hallam and integration of Egyptian refugees. Presenting the inaugural "Key of the City of Casey" to Bishop Suriel, the Mayor of Casey, Cr Sam Aziz praised him for his strength of leadership and example saying he had showed courage in standing “ against those whose superficial quest for so called political correctness constantly outweighs their moral integrity".
In keeping with these convictions, Bishop Suriel has been a prominent supporter of traditional marriage and recently signed a statement delivered to the Federal Parliament, together with 19 of Australia's denominational leaders and 267 other church leaders, urging the Parliament to protect the Marriage Act. The statement says:
"Marriage is the lifelong commitment and faithful union of one man and one woman. As such, marriage is the natural basis of the family because it secures the relationship between biological parents and their children."