"Love Never Fails."(1Cor 13:8)
|"The Thrice Blessed Bishop Karas" Remembered by the Members of His Family|
His Grace Bishop Karas was the first Bishop in the Diaspora, and the first Bishop and Abbot of the first Coptic Orthodox Monastery in the United States and Canada.
His Grace was born on 18th March, 1955 to pious parents and he was named Sourial Ayad Sourial. In his childhood and in his youth, he was closely attached to the Church, constantly partaking of the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist and reading the Holy Bible; he loved the praises and the hymns.
He was a very beautiful child, and as he grew he was greatly loved by all the people, and he loved them all; and this was noted by all those who met him.
One day, when his maternal grandmother came to visit them, he cried out loud to her saying, "See, Teta (granny), Christ the Lord is in the sky! See Jesus!" Whenever his grandmother visited us at home, she kissed his hand and that of his younger brother Elia (The Reverend Father Sourial of New Jersey). This made the other children protest, but the grandmother used to tell them, "You are not like them!"
When, as a child, he saw his mother complain of an illness, he took a glass of water and after praying over it for a long time, he asked her to drink from it. His mother then smelled a strong odor of incense coming out of the glass of water.
When he was a child, he had a small censer as a toy; he incensed his aunt who was ill, and her health improved after this.
He never refused anyone a request. When he was a child, he visited relatives and friends with his family; and if he was offered food and he was not hungry, he would not refuse it, but ate it with tears in his eyes, because he did not want to embarrass anyone.
He received his elementary, primary, and secondary education at the Camponi Schools in the Sudan. They were part of the Catholic Educational Mission in the Sudan. When he was eleven years old, the Dean of the School, a Catholic Monk, came to visit the family and he asked his parents to allow him to take Sourial (Abba Karas) with him to Italy to study and become a Monk; but his parents refused.
When he was thirteen years old, some Jehovah's Witnesses came to the house and asked to meet with the other members of the family. He refused to let them in. The leader of the group begged him to allow them to enter but although she was an elderly woman, he persisted in his refusal.
When he was in the School of Chemical Engineering, University of Khartoum, he would wait outside the University door, at the end of the day, for his older brother to come and take him home in his car. When some unforeseen circumstances delayed his brother, he would wait in his place without boredom, with his famous smile on his youthful angelic face, in spite of the extreme hot weather in the Sudan.
When he accompanied his older brother in the evening to study in his father's office, his brother would tell him to go out of the office for a while and take some rest; but he refused although he was in secondary school and his brother was in University and there was a vast difference between the amount of subjects they each had to study.
He was famous for his great serenity and his gentle smile; his brothers and sisters often tried to tease him but he always smiled back at them.
From his childhood, he was always satisfied with very little and asked for nothing, although he saw the disputes and requests of the other children of his age.
He received his Bachelor Degree in Chemical Engineering, with honors, from the University of Khartoum in 1979.
After he graduated from the School of Chemical Engineering, University of Khartoum, he worked for a very short time in a paint factory in Khartoum, and in spite of the factory owner's request, he refused to work on Sunday during the time of the Divine Liturgy. One day the factory car came to his home to take him to work, and it was on a Sunday morning; he vehemently refused to go and asked the driver to come back for him at 12:00 noon, after the Divine Liturgy.
His mother wanted him to get married before his departure for France for his Post Graduate studies, but he refused and he comforted his mother. He went to the city of Toulouse, in France, and started to learn the French language and prepare for his Masters Degree in Chemical Engineering.
During this period, he heard a voice calling him three times, and asking him to go to the Monastery. He did not hesitate for one moment; he left all his possessions and personal belongings, took his passport and went to Abba Pishoy Center in Cairo. From there, he went to the Monastery of Abba Pishoy in Wadi El Natroun.
When he arrived at the Monastery of Abba Pishoy, the Monk on duty at the door told him to go back to his University and complete his studies. However, when Sourial (Abba Karas) said him, "No one, having put his hand on the plough can look back," he allowed him to enter without further objection.
When his parents and older sister visited him in the Monastery of Abba Pishoy, he was still a student of Monasticism. He offered them food but did not eat with them. His sister saw him going to the living room which was opposite the dining room, and she saw him talking with the Holy Virgin in the picture which was on the wall in the living room.
The Thrice Blessed Metropolitan Daniel, Metropolitan of Khartoum, of the South and Uganda always said that Abba Karas was his son, because he had baptized him as a child, and he loved him deeply. When Abba Daniel came to the Monastery of St. Antony in California to visit him during his illness, he always said that the Holy Virgin was constantly with him.
His Grace Bishop Sarabamon, Bishop of Um Dourman witnessed to the serenity and gentleness of His Grace the Thrice Blessed Bishop Karas and to his love for all.
The miracles of Abba Karas were numerous and reckoned, from his childhood until the moment his departure, when his soul was elevated in a beautiful ascension to the Kingdom of Heaven, into the bosoms of the Saints and of the Holy Virgin Mary, his loving mother.
Those who love him will be writing from all over the world about the miracles that happened to them through the prayers of the Thrice Blessed Bishop Karas. Thus, all those who did not have the opportunity to meet him, will know that among us lived a Saint who had love for all, who endured the pain of his illness and the difficulties he faced, with his well known smile on his face for everyone. He prayed for all while he was in great pain from the cancer and in great anguish from the hardships.
Among the numerous miracles of Abba Karas, we will mention the following: