Pages

WELCOME...

to Bishop David's blog. Here you can find news, information, articles and pictures about the Church of England Diocese in Europe. We have over 300 congregations or worship centres serving Anglican and (mostly) English-speaking people in Europe, Morocco, Turkey, Russia and some central Asian countries.


For official diocesan information please click the diocesan logo on the right.



Friday, 13 May 2022

Post-Covid life returning in Italy: in-person clergy chapter and Church of England in Italy AGM


It has been a while due to COVID, but this week some of the the clergy of the Italian deanery were able at long last to meet and to enjoy a meal together as colleagues. The Revd Jules Cave Bergquist is the Area Dean and convoked a clergy chapter in Rome to have some time to share together and to hear from an invited guest, Don Giuliano Savina, the Director of the National Office for Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue for the Italian Bishops' Conference.

After the conviviality of the chapter, some serious work followed: the Annual General Meeting of the Association of the Church of England in Italy (ACDI), the first such assembly since the final signing of the treaty between the Church of England and the Italian Republic which grants us some significant rights in Italy. The meeting was hosted in the Anglican Centre in Rome and the clergy were joined by the lay representatives to conduct the essential business of this important body in the life of our diocese.

Tribute was paid to several individuals who have laboured for over 15 years in the long process towards official recognition of our Church in Italy, including Canon Vickie Sims, one time Archdeacon of Italy and Malta, and presently Chaplain of All Saints, Milan. Mother Vickie stepped down as President of ACDI and handed over the presidency to Archdeacon of Italy and Malta, the Ven. David Waller.



 

Monday, 9 May 2022

40th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood

 


It is hard to believe as the time has flown by, but 9 May is the 40th anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood, which took place in St Jude’s Church, Oakville, Ontario, in the  Diocese of Niagara. 


St Jude's Oakville, the concelebration with the Bishop following the ordination, as is the custom in the Canadian Church

In the presence of Colleen and some close friends I was able to celebrate the anniversary with a quiet eucharist.



Ecumenical relations have been central throughout the years of my priestly ministry, so I was particularly moved that a friend arranged for me to use a a particular chalice and paten for the anniversary mass. 


The sacred vessels were from the 16th century and were used by St Edward Campion and other English martyrs, and so are linked to that fraught time in our history when Anglicans and Roman Catholics were persecuting each other in England. I thank God that despite this tragic history, Anglicans and Roman Catholics have made a huge progress towards restoring visible communion, due to the progress of our official dialogue over the past more than 50 years. The homilist for the anniversary celebration was Professor Fr Keith Peckers SJ, professor of liturgy at the Pontifical Gregorian University.  

I was asked by a friend to reflect on each decade of priestly ministry so far, and to consider what are the highlights. I never thought that would be such a difficult question! But I could only conclude that the highlights are the gifts and generosity I have received from those I have served over these years, for their kindness, patience, understanding and support. 



The service was in a rural Italian Church in the Le Marche region. By happy coincidence the patron of the region is St Christopher, who was the patron of my title parish, St Christopher’s Burlington.  



St Christopher's Burlington, Ontario

St Christopher, patron of Le Marche



Saturday, 30 April 2022

The Revd Ronald Andrew Corne - RIP


Last Wednesday 27 April, in St Swithun's Church, Headbourne Worthy, we laid to rest the Revd Ronald Corne, chaplain of All Saints Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife, with St Martin de Porres, La Palma, Spain. Fr Ron fell ill in February, and after a brief time in hospital in Tenerife, decided to return to the UK to be close to his family. He died shortly after his return. 

The moving tributes given at the funeral recalled Ron's cheeky smiles and infectious laughter, his quick witted jokes, but above all that he was a spiritual and wonderfully giving person, loved by so many. He will be sorely missed by his parishioners in Tenerife/La Palma. Many had not been aware of how seriously ill their priest was, as Fr Ron, always a private man, did not wish them to worry or fret about him.  

Fr Ron wanted to be buried in St Swithun's, one of the churches in a benefice he once served in the Diocese of Winchester. His entire ministry prior to coming to the Diocese in Europe three years ago was in the Diocese of Winchester, where he was the Area Dean of Romsey. Clergy colleagues from both dioceses were present at the funeral to bid farewell to their brother priest. The service was led by the Revd Gill Nobes, who had been Ron's curate at one point. I was privileged to deliver the homily and to preside at the commendation.

Lord God, may your servant and priest Ron, who devoted a faithful ministry to your name, now rejoice in the perpetual company of your saints.

All Saints, Puerto de la Cruz


St Swithun's Headbourne Worthy




 

A wedding in Gloucestershire - with Diocese in Europe touches!


On Friday 22 April, I had the great joy and privilege of presiding at the wedding of the Ven. David Sutch and Gwendolyne Thurley. Archdeacon David is a former Archdeacon of Gibraltar, and Chaplain of Costa del Sol East. The wedding in St George's Church, Brockworth Village, was also very much a Diocese in Europe event, although in the middle of Gloucestershire. The best man was the Very Revd Alan Woods, former Dean of Gibraltar (and Archdeacon of Gibraltar), with some parishioners from Fr David's Costa del Sol East parish, (the bride is from there), and a former Chaplain, Fr Alaric Lewis.

Fr David, though now retired, clearly had not forgotten some of his technique honed from years as a priest in Spain:


Warmest blessings to Fr David and Gwendolyne!





 

Sunday, 17 April 2022

Happy Easter

 


A joyous and happy Easter from Holy Cross, Palermo. Cristo è risorto!  Христос Воскрес!

For the spirit of joy and hope of Easter to fill our hearts and our lives, for peace in the world, for peace in Ukraine during this time of war, for an end to all persecution, violence and aggression, we pray to the Lord.



Friday, 15 April 2022

Good Friday in Palermo ended with public prayers for Ukraine



At the end of the Solemn Liturgy of Good Friday at Holy Cross, Palermo, Fr James Hadley, the Chaplain and I were invited to a prayer vigil for peace in Ukraine. Local clergy, civic dignitaries, carabinieri and military officials were in attendance. I was very moved to be asked, after the introductions, to lead the assembled crowd in prayer (in English) for peace.


 
The Good Friday procession which had been taking place for the past several hours ended up joining the vigil, which enabled special prayers to be offered to Our Lady of Sorrows to intercede for those suffering in Ukraine. It was a slightly livelier ending to Good Friday than I normally experience, but an emotional and significant one.

Hear the cries of your people, O God. May peace and justice become a reality for the people of Ukraine and for all the world. 
  




  

Thursday, 14 April 2022

Maundy Thursday - a moment of ecumenical sharing



How appropriate on Maundy Thursday to join with some of the clergy of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Palermo for a meal together and some sharing of the joys of priestly ministry. Sicilian hospitality is second to none!

Right next door, the Church of St Catherine of Alexandria was preparing a very simple Altar of Repose for tonight. Just a couple of candles and a few flowers to honour Our Lord's presence.





Chrism masses - moments of collegiality and mutual support


Clergy and lay ministers normally try gather with their bishops in Holy Week for the Chrism Mass, when the sacred oils for the sacraments are blessed and consecrated and vows of ministerial commitment are renewed. Given our vast geography in the Diocese in Europe, one such gathering would not be logistically possible if a good number of clergy and lay ministers are going to be able to attend. So customarily 4 such services are held, two at which Bishop Robert presides (Brussels and Paris) and two at which I preside, in Madrid and Rome. 

These are privileged moments when we gather in the midst of the busiest week of the year, to show our unity in the mission and ministry of Christ's Church to which we are called, and to demonstrate that unity through renewing our vows together and blessing the sacred oils which we use throughout the year. 

More than 45 clergy and Readers were in attendance in Madrid and Rome. We were blessed also by the presence of ecumenical partner clergy from the Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist and Roman Catholic Churches who graciously affirmed their unity with us in these words: we commit ourselves to God and one another, to live, work and pray as one body in Christ". In Rome, colleagues from the Episcopal Church in Europe and Archbishop Ian Ernest, the Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, were among our distinguished colleagues present. 



I am grateful to Canon Medhat Sabry (St George's Madrid) and Fr Robert Warren (All Saints Rome) and their parish teams for their work of preparation for these services and for the hospitality they offered to those who gathered. 



The Deacon's role includes the careful decanting of the oils of the catechumens and the sick and the Holy Chrism into bottles to be taken back across a continent and islands by the clergy and Readers. Helpers for this important task are always welcome!



  

Monday, 4 April 2022

Confirmation in Algarve

Candidates for Confirmation in St Vincent's Algarve

As COVID restrictions gradually have been lifting across the diocese since last autumn, parish visits have resumed. In some cases I have been catching up with visits that had to be postponed many months or longer, due to the pandemic. Although we have taken to Zoom quite well as a diocese, recent surveys in the Church of England have shown that the majority of Anglicans prefer physical gatherings for worship, over virtual services, even though the latter serve us well in our time of need. 

However the sacrament of Confirmation cannot be celebrated over zoom!  Across the diocese candidates have been patiently waiting to receive this apostolic rite, in some cases having been prepared months beforehand, until such time when a physical gathering would be possible once again, 


Renewal of baptismal vows are an essential part of Confirmation

St Vincent's Algarve was the venue for one such service in January. In the beautiful church dedicated to Our Lady of Light, candidates affirmed their baptismal promises as they gathered around the font and  received chrismation and laying on of hands to strengthen them in their life in Christ.

Our Lady of Light Church, Praia da Luz, Algarve




Friday, 4 March 2022

Appeal for Ukraine


USPG has partnerered with the Diocese in Europe in an appeal for funds to respond to urgent humanitarian needs in Ukraine and refugee needs in neighbouring countries. We have trusted Church-related partner organisations on the ground who are delivering vital aid to the victims of the hostilities. Shelter, food, drinking water, hygiene items and trauma support are among the immediate needs being addressed. 

To donate to this appeal, please visit www.uspg.org.uk/ukraine

Loving God, may we reach out in solidarity to our brothers and sisters in need, and walk in your ways, so that peace and justice become a reality for the people of Ukraine and for all the world. Amen.



 

Monday, 28 February 2022

In Rome 2 parishes, Anglican and RC, witness together to God's love

Don Felice, assistant at Ognissanti, and Fr Rob preaching together

5 years ago, a bishop paid a visit to a parish and encouraged them in their life and mission. Not an unusual thing to happen, except it was the Bishop of Rome visiting the Church of England parish of All Saints in Rome

At that time All Saints entered into a twinning partnership with the Roman Catholic parish of Ognissanti Appia Nuova in Rome. Together, inspired by Pope Francis’s visit and his ecumenical encouragement, the two parishes covenanted together to share the love of Christ in the city through common projects. One of these is a weekly provision of food to the homeless at Ostiense train station. 

As the Anglican Co-Chairman of the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM), established by the highest authorities of our two communions to translate the theological agreement and spiritual communion achieved through our dialogue into visible and practical outcomes, I am very heartened by this twinning in the heart of Rome itself. United in participation in God’s mission we can witness to the unity which is Christ’s will for all of humanity. 

To celebrate 5 years of this twinning and to thank God for this growing together in joint mission, a service of Evensong was held in All Saints Rome with the participation of both parish priests, Don Walter Groppello (Ognissanti) and Fr Rob Warren (All Saints) together with other colleagues and members of both communities. Testimonies of the significance of this partnership were shared by members from both parishes.




Thursday, 24 February 2022

Prayer for Ukraine

 

Christ Church, Kyiv


We awoke this morning, 24 February, to the news that a full-scale military invasion of Ukraine by Russia has begun. We may have forgotten that there has been conflict in eastern Ukraine for the past 8 years, but now the scourge of full-scale war between nations has returned to Europe. 

Ukraine has seen invasions over the centuries, with invaders seeking to control the land, its rich resources and its political system. But in 2022 such an act of aggression upon a democratic nation by Russia not only threatens the people of Ukraine, but dangerously destabilizes the coexistence between nations.  

Let us unite in prayer for the avoidance of death and suffering, for the protection of the people of Ukraine, and for the strengthening of all who now face danger. We pray for the leaders of our nations that they may urgently seek every way to return to dialogue, for the immediate withdrawal of Russian military, and a reduction of dangerous international tensions.

In our diocese we hold in special loving prayer our congregation of Christ Church Kyiv, that the Lord may grant them protection at this time. We remember also the peoples of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and even Finland, who are fearful and uncertain for the future of their own countries, given the history of Russian aggression in the region.

May we all respond to Pope Francis’s call for Ash Wednesday, 2 March, to be an international day of fasting and prayer for peace in Ukraine. 

I am on pastoral and ecumenical duties in Rome and Florence these days. Tomorrow morning, in All Saints, Rome at 9 am, I will offer a votive mass for peace in Ukraine.

Father of all, your Risen Son gave new hope to his apostles with words of peace and the assurance of his presence: send your Holy Spirit upon the peoples of Ukraine. Bless them with Christ’s gift of peace, and strengthen the resolve of all who labour for an end to this conflict; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

St Michael the Archangel has been the patron saint of Kyiv since ancient times. May the Archangel be a guardian and companion to the people of Ukraine, bringing strength and consolation and restoring hope. 

May peace once again prevail.

Statue of St Michael, Maidan, Kyiv