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Abouna Misaeil (l) and Michel Awad, donor relations associate at Coptic Orphans (r), meet at St. Mary Coptic Orthodox Church in North Carolina on July 20, 2014.

Abouna Misaeil (l) and Michel Awad, donor relations associate at Coptic Orphans (r), meet at St. Mary Coptic Orthodox Church in North Carolina on July 20, 2014.

Dear Friends: Today, I’m excited to share the observations of Michel Awad, one of our donor relations associates based here at our headquarters in the greater Washington, D.C. area. — Nermien Riad

It was a great blessing to visit St. Mary Coptic Orthodox Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, and to experience the generous hospitality of the people there.

I made the trip representing Coptic Orphans, and my presentation on Sunday, July 20 was the first time in recent years that the congregation had heard about our organization’s mission and programs in a formal way.

I had the pleasure of meeting with Abouna Misaeil, the head father of St. Mary. He kindly gave me permission to make my presentation at the main servants’ meeting after the Sunday liturgy.

In that presentation, I was able to introduce our Serve to Learn program, in which volunteers from around the world are hosted by a Coptic diocese in Egypt for three weeks while they teach children basic English skills. Nearly 190 volunteers have served over the program’s 11 years of existence, teaching more than 5,800 young Egyptians.

As I explained to the servants, Serve to Learn shows that young diaspora Copts can benefit Egypt’s communities by volunteering, while becoming more strongly tied to their Coptic faith and cultural heritage.

To my great joy, Abouna Misaeil showed enormous interest in Serve to Learn and is clearly deeply passionate about our children in Egypt.

During the presentation, I was struck by the amazing effect that two photos had on those present. The first showed the meetings that this year’s team of Serve to Learn Volunteers had with His Holiness Pope Tawadros II.

140806_HH with STL_Nermien's Choice_Cropped

The second showed their meeting with Abouna Dawood Lamey.

Abouna Lamie with STL

The response to the photos and the concept of Serve to Learn was, I felt, an incredible mix of blessings, grace, pleasure, and joy.

I asked Abouna Misaeil to talk about Serve to Learn and to encourage the servants to join the program in 2015. He agreed, and welcomed the idea of promoting Serve to Learn among young Copts in the congregation and the surrounding area.

The visit had the feeling of a step forward, toward a deeper and stronger relationship with the Coptic community in North Carolina.

In particular, it was important to be able to speak at St. Mary, there in Raleigh. The city is, after all, the capital of North Carolina. It is the home city of North Carolina State University, and lies less than 40 minutes from University of North Carolina and Duke University. Moreover, Raleigh houses the Coptic college club.

In short, it was an amazing blessing to be able to present at St. Mary, there amid the area’s strong Coptic community, and so close to such huge and vibrant student bodies.  On behalf of the Coptic Orphans team, I’d like to say that we are so grateful for the kind hospitality of Abouna Misaeil and the congregation of St. Mary.

Interested in learning more about Serve to Learn? Please reach out to us at info [at] or ring us at 703-641-8910. Peace and grace.