|Fr. Bishoy Kamel|
December 6, 1931|
Sers el-Lyan, Monufia, Egypt
|Died||March 21, 1979
|Venerated in||Coptic Orthodox Church|
|Major shrine||St. George Coptic Orthodox Church (Sporting, Alexandria, Egypt)|
He was born Samy Kamel in Sers el-Lyan, Monufia Governorate, Egypt, in 1931. later moving to Damenhour where he received his early education. He went on to attend Alexandria University, and received his Bachelor of Science degree there in 1951. He started as a teacher in a local school, at the same time continuing his own studies. In 1954, he received an advanced degree in literature, and was appointed as an instructor at the Alexandria University college of education. Five years later, in 1959, he was ordained a priest of the Coptic Orthodox Church. While a priest, he also taught Sunday school and offered free tutoring for children who needed it. He is also noted for going around to the needy of his congregation after evening services on Christmas, Epiphany, and Easter, because he thought it important to share with his congregation the meaning of the church's "feasts".
He founded the St. George Coptic Orthodox Church in Sporting, Alexandria, Egypt. As the church grew, he became convinced one priest would not be enough, and sought to have associate priests at the church. Although he was initially advised against doing so, he persisted, and in time the church had five priests working there, all of whom remained overworked as well. Other churches he founded in Alexandria include St. George in Hadara, the Church of Archangel Michael in the Mustafa Kamel area, St. Takla Hemanout in the Ibrahimeya neighborhood, the church of St. Mary and St. Cyril in the Cleopatra neighborhood, and the church of St. Peter in the Sidi Bishr neighborhood.
In 1969, he was sent to minister to the needs of the Coptic faithful in Los Angeles. Initially, the church placed him in a building used by the Syrian Orthodox Church. Later, he was given the chance to buy a building which the a Russian Orthodox Church congregation had earlier used on Robertson Boulevard which would cost $100,000. His church at the time had about $500 available. Father Bishoy Kamel managed to raise $23,000, some of which came from newer immigrants to the area.
Father Bishoy Kamel took a cab to a local bank, where he was prepared to pay the $23,000. and sign a mortgage for the church. Unfortunately, he left the unmarked envelope containing the money in the seat of the taxi he took to the bank. He didn't notice until entering the bank and being asked by the loan officer what had happened to the money. He left the bank and returned to his home near the church they were using without the mortgage or the money, convinced that at least some people would believe that he had himself stolen the money. Later that night, after midnight, he heard a knock on his door, and asked his wife to answer it. The driver of the taxi was there. He confessed to having found the money in the cab, and drove around for some time trying to decide whether to keep it or not. After deciding not to, determining that his fare had been some sort of minister, he had to find a way to locate him. He asked around, and finally managed to determine who his fare must have been, and arrived with the money.
Final years and legacy
Father Bishoy Kamel would later go on to help establish the Coptic church in Denver and Houston, and areas of Europe and Australia. Although very interested in the spiritual welfare of others, Kamel was also very concerned with what he felt was his own salvation. He displayed an unusual degree of humility. Although married for several years to his wife, Angel, both of them remained celibate. As a preacher, he regularly cited examples from the Bible, Church history, tradition, and the life of the Saints. His voice is described as having been low, almost weak, but was very appreciated by his congregation. He wrote religious books, including Under the Feet of the Cross and With Christ Crucified. He died in 1979, and is buried in Alexandria.