On Thursday 20th March 2014, at 1pm local New York time, 4am Friday 21st March Melbourne time at Fordham University, New York, His Grace Bishop Suriel, Bishop of Melbourne & Affiliated Regions, and Dean of Saint Athanasius Coptic Orthodox Theological College in Melbourne, successfully defended his Doctoral Dissertation titled “Habib Girgis, Coptic Orthodox Educator and a Light in the Darkness.”
The doctoral dissertation committee attending with His Grace comprised:
Chairperson: Dr John J. Houston, Associate Dean, FSPCS
Mentor: Dr Gloria Durka
Readers: Dr John L. Elias, and Dr Maged S.A. Mikhail
The dissertation, on one of the Coptic Orthodox Church’s most recently canonised saints, Habib Girgis, represents years of unwavering dedication and painstaking research to reveal the great legacy of this pioneer of theological and religious education within the Coptic Orthodox Church.
Bishop Suriel is the Dean of St Athanasius Coptic Orthodox Theological College, and also lectures in Religious Education and Youth Ministry. He has developed a reputation as an intellectual with a keen interest in ‘Copts in Modernity’, an emerging field of research. He is a dedicated campaigner for theological and religious education, and for establishing connections between Eastern and Oriental Orthodox educational institutions; the connection between SACOTC and St Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary, one of the leading Eastern Orthodox seminaries, is a case in point.
In 2000, Bishop Suriel established SACOTC soon after his appointment to the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Melbourne and Affiliated Regions, and was instrumental in attaining accreditation for SACOTC through what was then the MCD, now the University of Divinity, making it the first Coptic Orthodox theological college in the world to be accredited.