Pope Tawadros II received at Papal headquarters on Tuesday Sister Gabriella Reham Louka and Sister Philomena Rania Doss, from the Eparchy of Ireland, accompanied by Father Neil Xavier O’Donoghue, Director of Liturgy at Saint Patrick’s Pontifical University, Maynooth.

The two Coptic Orthodox (Egyptian) nuns began their studies in Maynooth three years ago, and live in the Coptic Orthodox Abbey of Saint George in Delvin, Co. Westmeath where they are helping establish the monastic life for the Coptic Orthodox Church in the European diaspora. The Coptic Orthodox Church is the biggest of the Oriental Orthodox Churches, with about a dozen parishes in Ireland.

Both graduated with First Class Honours in the MTh programme this year and have won the Patristics’ Prize in our awards ceremony. Sister Gabriella Reham Louka’s thesis was entitled “Christ’s Grace and Holy Spirit Works of Internalisation in Relation to Personal Freewill in the Macarian Fifty Homilies”, and Sister Philomena Rania Doss’ thesis was entitled “Pachomian Koinonia as an Archetype and Role Model of Christian Community: A Study of the ‘Instruction concerning a Spiteful Monk”.

The sisters are the first two female religious ever to study theology at third level from this particular Christian denomination. Their local bishop, Bishop Antony, Bishop of Ireland, Scotland and North East England and its affiliation regions of the Coptic Orthodox Church, and the Abbot of Saint George Abbey, will be in attendance at the graduation ceremony in Maynooth.

Congratulating the sisters on their landmark achievement, Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh said, “Congratulations to Coptic nuns Sister Philomena and Sister Gabriella, who both earned Masters’ degrees with 1st class hons from Saint Patrick’s Pontifical University, Maynooth, on theme of Coptic monasticism of Egypt.”

ENDS