The 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 Toronto.
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
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
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.
Coincidentally, both 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,
The church of Virgin Mary and St.
Athanasius has been served by Father Angeles Saad since September 1989. The Canadian
Coptic Centre and new church and facilities were completed in 1998. The building for
the church of St. Philopateer and St. Anthony was purchased in 2002. Currently the church
is served by our blessed fathers H. Angelos Saad, Fr. Maximos Rizkalla, Fr. Domadious
Saleh, Fr. Boutros Phillopos, Fr. Pishoy Wasfy, Fr. Makari Youssef,
Fr. Paul Guirgis, Fr. Luke Mitry, Fr. David Daoud, Fr.
Mina Youssef and Fr. Kyrillos Attia.