The St. Paul Abbey (formerly the St. Paul Brotherhood) is a communal life modeled after the life of St. Paul the Apostle in which clergy and laymen profess four vows (poverty, chastity, obedience and service). It was envisioned, pioneered and established in the Diocese of Los Angeles under the guidance of H.E. Metropolitan Serapion with the blessing of H.H Pope Shenouda III.
Of all the forms and varieties of religious life and priesthood found in the Coptic Church, it is probably the least known and most misunderstood. This is due, at least in part, to the fact that the title “Brother” has different meanings in different communities.
Adelphotes, the Greek word for brotherhood, as used by St. Peter–“love the brotherhood” (1 Peter 2:17; 5:9)—refers people united to a common calling, i.e. the Christian fraternity.
Throughout his epistles, St. Cyprian uses the word as synonymous with “brethren” or the community of Christians dwelling together.
As the Psalmist says, “How good is it for brethren to dwell together in unity.” And as chanted in the Morning Doxology, “United, in the true evangelic love like the Apostles.”
Thus, it is a life that combines the communal life of the desert fathers, the service of the parish church, and the evangelism of Orthodox missionaries.
The life of the Abbey is similar to the house of consecrated deacons established in Egypt, the life lived by deacon Habib Girgis, as well as the brotherhood and various orders in Catholic Lutheran, Episcopal and other Christian communities.