Fr Victor Rophael OAM
The Late Very Rev Fr Victor Rophael OAM was born Joseph Akhnoukh in Tanta, Egypt on 28 July 1942, and was the youngest of four children. He then shortly moved to Alexandria with his family. He attended St. Marks' school of Alexandria, where his spiritual relationship with St. Mark began. He spent his youth at church and was a Sunday School pupil of the late Fr Bishoy Kamel.
He started his service at St George's Church in Sporting, Alexandria where he loved to serve and learn the hymns of the church. Later he joined St. Mina's Church in Fleming, Alexandria where he served with Fr Philimon Nemetalla. He frequently visited St Mina's Monastery where he enjoyed spiritual retreats and struck a relationship with Fr Rophael Ava Mina. He served as a devout Sunday School teacher and deacon of the church. He was selected by His Holiness Pope Kyrillos VI to become a priest and was ordained on 31 December 1970.
His Holiness Pope Kyrillos appointed him to serve as the first priest in Melbourne. He arrived in 1971 with his young family and immediately enrolled in an Adult English course, as he saw this as a priority if he was to effectively integrate into the Australian community.
Fr Victor dedicated much of his life to helping his congregation and the broader community. He would welcome new migrants and assisted them with housing, employment, provided food and clothing and ensured their smooth transition to a new country.
He was elevated to hegumen by His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, of blessed memory, on 23 March 1985. His Grace Bishop Suriel appointed the Fr Victor as Vicar General of the Diocese of Melbourne in March 2006. He was also a member of the Diocesan Clerical Council for Marital Affairs.
On 2nd May 2007, he was awarded the Medal of the Order Of Australia (OAM) by the Governor of Victoria at that time, Professor David de Kretser AC, (2006 - 2011), for his outstanding service to his community.
His generosity and perseverance were characteristic of his true nature. His dedicated ministry was a crucial part of his life until his last day on 14 October 2008.
We truly miss his energy and infectious smile. He was dearly loved and respected by his family, parish and wider community.