Anba Karas

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Bishop Karas (born Sorial Ayad Sorial) was the first bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United States and the first abbot of the church's first monastery outside of Egypt.


Sorial Ayad Sorial was born on January 17, 1955, in the Sudan. At a young age Sorial showed great love for God and this is because of his Orthodox upbringing. After Sorial finished his bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from the University of Khartoum, he left to France to pursue a doctorate at the University of Toulouse.

On January 18, 1981, he attempted to enter St. Bishoy Monastery but was stopped by the Abbot, His Grace Bishop Sarabamoun, who told him to return to France to continue his education. Sorial replied, “No one, having put his hand on the plough can look back.” (Luke 9:62) The Abbot then allowed him to enter. On November 14, 1981, Sorial was tonsure]]d a monk and given the name Father Karas. Pope Shenouda III ordained him as a priest on February 14, 1984, and assigned him to head the Papal Center in St. Bishoy Monastery. On May 23, 1989 Pope Shenouda elevated Father Karas to Hegumen.

Hegumen Karas was appointed to head the new Monastery of St. Antony the Great in Newberry Springs, California (near Barstow, California) on September 26, 1989.

The Bishops and Metropolitans of the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church unanimously agreed to the elevation of Father Karas as Bishop and Abbot in recognition of the monastery's prosperity. He was consecrated as a bishop on July 6, 1993, by His Holiness Pope Shenouda III.

In 1998, Bishop Karas was diagnosed with lung cancer and was given nine months to live. The bishop continued to celebrate the Divine Liturgy, followed the regular fast schedule and lived a strict ascetic life. He met daily with visitors, even though he was receiving a chemotherapy treatment. On January 10, 2002, Bishop Karas suffered a stroke and fell into a coma; he died in the early morning of January 17, the day before what would have been his 47th birthday.

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