History of ACTS


St. Athanasius and St. Cyril Coptic Orthodox Theological School traces its origins to the world’s first Catechetical School.

By the dawn of the third century AD, a theological school, the first of its kind, flourished in Alexandria. The School, originally established by Saint Mark the Apostle, strived to introduce catechumens to the tenets of the Christian faith, and to enable the faithful, both lay and ordained, to plumb the depth of the Holy Scriptures and to articulate the mysteries of salvation. In its day, the School of Alexandria equipped individuals to live as devout Christians, and to answer their calling, be it to serve as theologians, missionaries, clerics, or martyrs. In the 20th century, the modern-day Dean of the School was Archdeacon Habib Girgis.

In 1989, the Trice-Blessed Pope Shenouda III (1971 – 2012), delivered a message to the faithful of Los Angeles regarding his vision for the importance of world branches of the Theological School. During this visit, His Holiness established branches in Los Angeles, New Jersey and Australia.

At the Los Angeles location, from 1989 to 1995 a board of directors, and courses were established under the direct supervision and blessing of H.H. Pope Shenouda, with the Very Rev. Fr. Mikhail as Academic Dean, and Very Rev. Fr. Felimon Mikhail as Administrative Dean. In 1993, the first class of students graduated from the School.

In July 2007, Saint Athanasius and Saint Cyril Coptic Orthodox Theological Library was established to further the efforts and goals of the School by organizing theological conferences, seminars, and events. In 2015, the two organizations merged to form Saint Athanasius and Saint Cyril Coptic Orthodox Theological School (ACTS).

On October 19, 2016 His Holiness Pope Tawadros signed a Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) with Claremont School of Theology (CST) and Claremont Graduate University (CGU), home of the renowned Claremont Coptic Encyclopedia. The MOU with CST and CGU enables ACTS students to take courses across all three institutions and obtain fully accredited graduate degrees.

ACTS currently resides on Claremont School of Theology’s campus in Claremont, California under the guidance, auspices and blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Serapion.

Inaugural Lecture of His Holiness Pope Shenouda III at the opening of the seminary in Los Angeles in 1989.