On Saturday 15 October the Diocese was privileged to host a Reception in Honour of Her Excellency Mrs Nabila Makram, the Minister of State for Emigration and Egyptian Expatriates Affairs, who was visiting Australia with an entourage. The event program included a speech from Her Excellency and visiting delegates, supported by the Egyptian diplomatic corps in Australia, Melbourne clergy and diocesan representatives. His Grace Bishop Anba Suriel also spoke and presented the visiting Minister with the gift of an icon on behalf of the diocese. The jam-packed schedule for the Minister and delegation offered a tour of the Eporo Tower building site, hosting a new church, offices, bookstore and theology college, with a formal opening in 2017. The Minister and special guests also toured the Donvale site including St Athanasius Church, St Athanasius College and the arts studio where the Eporo artwork is being prepared by artist Ashraf Gerges and team. In the arts studio, visitors enjoyed viewing Eporo works in progress such as the stunning Coptic icons, stained glass panels and mosaics which will be showcased at Eporo. Our visitors were most impressed with the ongoing works and achievements of the diocese as well as the hospitality displayed, including a delicious afternoon tea. His Grace Bishop Suriel offered a government bond of $200,000 to the Egyptian Government to generate 5% interest per year which is to be returned to the diocese in three years time. The government bond will support the Egyptian Government efforts to transition into democracy and build prosperity for all Egyptians. Thank you to the City of Casey Mayor, Cr Sam Aziz for officiating as MC at the Reception and for providing a heartfelt response to the speeches. We were also grateful to have the Member for Wills Peter Khalil MP attend this auspicious occasion which forged even stronger bridges of good will, unity and peace between all who were present. A sincere thank you is also extended to the diocesan staff and volunteers who helped to make this Reception a wonderful success, under the leadership of His Grace Bishop Anba Suriel.

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