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The Very Reverend  Late Fr

The Very Reverend

Late Fr. Mina Nematalla

His life | Speach by Fr Antonious Kaldas | Fr Mina Photo Album | Fr Mina Audio

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Very Reverend Fr. Mina Labib Nematalla was the first Coptic Orthodox priest to minister in the continent of Australia. Prior to his arrival to Sydney, he first stopped over in Melbourne and Celebrated the first ever Coptic Orthodox Liturgy in Australia. This liturgy was a great blessing and was the seed that flourished into the present expansion of the Coptic Orthodox Church throughout Australia and New Zealand. Fr. Mina was instrumental in the establishment of many churches in Australia and served his people with great love and diligence.

Starting from nothing in 1968, when he first arrived to Australia, must have been very difficult. It would have been quite an overwhelming task to come to a new land, new culture and also a new language. Yet the hand of God guided him. Fr. Mina carried out the commandment of Our Lord Jesus Christ that says, "I was sick and you visited me." Every time he would hear of someone who was sick and needed prayers he would rush to see and pray for them. No matter the distance or the time, he made this priority in his ministry. Through the sick he came into contact with Christ Himself, Who was strength and guidance.

Fr. Mina also knew the importance of the Eucharist; Our faith rotates around this important sacrament of partaking of the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. On the altar Fr. Mina would place all of the problems that he would face in his ministry and all the worries of this people and ask God to solve them and strengthen him and to guide him to have a clear aim, which is the salvation of every soul.

There was definitely this strong link between Fr. Mina and the altar. Even during his severe illness he would not cut himself from the Eucharist. At times he would be hospitalized on important feast days, and God would give him the strength and he would request to go to the church and pray the liturgy with the reverend fathers and then return to the hospital. The Eucharist was his source of comfort and joy through all pain and suffering. This virtue I am sure he learned from his blessed uncle His Holiness the late Pope Kyrillos VI.

Fr. Mina has planted a strong foundation for Copts in Australia. All who came into contact with him loved him. He has left them with many dear memories. The three thousand people that attended his funeral testify to the significance that Fr. Mina's life had on his congregation. May the legacy that he has left for us of his Zeal for God and his love for the Coptic Orthodox Church and for his people be an example for us to continue our journey on this earth together and especially here in Australia.

Written by His Grace Bishop Suriel, Bishop of Melbourne


His Life

+ Born in Alexandria 25th November 1927
+ After completing his University studies he was appointed as a high school Mathematics teacher
+ He joined the Armed Forces where he was the Manager of Military Services at the rank of Major in Northern Egypt (near Alexandria)
+ Ordained as a priest then Arch priest by his uncle, The Late Pope Kyrillos VI, as the first Coptic Priest of Australia on 10th March 1968.
+ Arrived in Sydney on 24th January 1969 and began temporarily in a Salvation Army Hall at Redfern
+Bought the first church owned by the Copts in Sydneham in the name of the Virgin Mary and Saint Mina
+ Appointed a Justice of the Peace in 1972
+ Awarded the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) of the 1st degree in 1995 by  Queen Elizabeth's Representative for this services in Australia for 25 years
+ Transferred to St Mark's Church at Guilford (now St. Anthony & St. Paul's Church) in 1975 then St. George Church at Kensington in 1980
+Established Archangel Michael and Saint Bishoy Coptic Orthodox Church at Mt. Druitt in 1980 where he continued to serve until his departure on 1 July 2000.


Fr. Mina Nematalla
(Speech by Fr. Antonios Kaldas 2000)

Abouna Mina served here at Archangel Michael and by the humility of Abouna Botros and all of our servants on behalf of the deacons, servants, the youth and all of the congregation of the church, I would like to talk to you about Abouna Mina.

Truly it is hard to speak because we all feel that we have lost a very very great treasure by the passing of Abouna Mina. Many people have reached the clouds, but there are not so many that have been able to keep their feet firmly on the ground at the same time. Abouna Mina was one of those very few who achieved so much in his life and much has been said and more will be said today about his great achievements, but I would like to speak for a moment or two about Abouna Mina, simply, as a man, simply as the human being that he was. We have spoken of his love, his humility, his genuineness and his sincerity. Abouna Mina was a true man in the sense of a person who has devoted his life to the truth and has organized his life, every action and every word comes back to the truth.

He was a deeply faithful man. Whenever I would ask him about his reason for making a decision or for doing something, more often his answer was not an explanation but a verse from the Bible. His knowledge of the Bible was incredible. All of us who have listened to his service were astounded of the variety and the breadth of his knowledge of the Bible.

His kindness was also unique in that he would take anyone and everyone under his wing and I think there are many people sitting here in the church today who have their own experiences and have been touched in their own minute of kindness from Abouna and have never forgotten it. Whether they are members of our church or whether they are not members of the church, Abouna gave of his kindness equally to all. His devotion to his family also is legendary and the love that we have experienced and saw in his love to his wife, children and grandchildren filtered through the whole church.

As I have said before here in the church and I repeat at every opportunity. I honestly feel that this parish is the most loving congregation that I have ever come across and one of the easiest to serve because of that love and kindness which originates from the service of the shepherdhood of Abouna Mina.

Abouna was an incredibly easy person to serve with. You always knew exactly where you stood with him. On those occasions when I needed to be reviewed or told that I have done something wrong, Abouna always did it with sincerity and honesty. Always did it immediately but always with kindness and he never allowed it to remain unresolved and never mentioned again.

I would like to mention at the end, his love for God because in all that he did, Abouna put God No. 1. In everything in his life, his decision to accept his priesthood, his acceptance to come to a far far country, perhaps never heard of before, in everything that he did in his service, his family life, in his dealings with people, he always put God No. 1. And one of the outward sides of this was his devotion and love for hymns. Many of us will remember he wasnít able to stand up to sing his prayers, but would rather sit down on this bench and take in front of him the microphone brought down low and he would sing the hymns even until his voice gave out and he would ask the deacons to continue.

We are confident now that he is singing praises in the kingdom of heaven. It is fitting that on the day that he passed away, the psalm that was read before the Gospel that day, the psalm that was allocated many centuries ago for that particular date, is relevant. If I may read some of the verses from psalm 61 which says, "from the end of the earth I would cry to you when my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been a shelter for me. I will abide in your tabernacle forever." And then later on it says, "he shall abide before God forever." And then later on it says "he shall abide before God forever" and again it says, "so I will sing praises to your name forever."

I canít think of Abounaís face in front of me now without tears of sadness and sorrow, but at the same time, without also rejoicing as Saint Paul said, "rejoice in the Lord and again I say rejoice." All of us who loved him, all of us who have experienced his love must be sad and sorry for what we have lost. When we think of him, if we truly loved him, I think we also must rejoice as he is now rejoicing happy with God. He has his Lordís desire, the thing he yearned for all his life, to be with the one that he loved more than anyone or anything else and now he has it fully and abundantly and therefore, in our faith that he is rejoicing, we also must rejoice with him.