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.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Prayer for Italy after the quake

In the very early morning of 24 Aug, while concluding my holiday in Canada, I learned of the devastating earthquake to hit Italy. I was able to contact Archdeacon Vickie Sims, as well as Canon Jonathan Boardman in Rome, Fr William Lister in Florence and Mother Teodora in Perugia. Thankfully it seems that no members of our communities in the areas hit by the quake have been injured or killed, but as we know, the final numbers of deaths and injured has yet to be known.

Archdeacon Simms is monitoring social media from our Church members in Pescara who are mostly from Nigeria originally, and who report that they are safe. Fr Jonathan Boardman dedicated a sung evensong in the Shrine of Santa Rita in Cascia in SW Umbria to the departed and injured. A visiting choir from St Mary Maldon was singing the service. Mother Teodora who is responsible for Italian language ministry in Perugia reports her people are praying for all the devastated communities.

Pray that the Lord will grant rest to those who perished and comfort to those who were spared. May God strengthen all efforts to rescue those still trapped and bless those who bring help and relief.


Friday, 5 August 2016

On leave

I am taking a couple of weeks leave beginning Friday 5 August. Do not expect many blog posts during this time!

My chaplain Deacon Frances Hiller is able to reach me, if there are any urgent matters.

"To give no time during life to pious and beneficial leisure, is this not to lose your life?"  (St Bernard of Clairvaux) 

Thursday, 4 August 2016

An interesting ecclesial challenge, embraced with joy in Italy

Fr Luciano, Mother Teodora, Archdeacon Sims and Faustina Bruno
I have always maintained that the Diocese in Europe demonstrates a creativity and a flexibility in our life and mission which could teach many things to other parts of the Church of England. One example, for instance, is our work to build up and nurture a minority community within our existing minority church reality in Italy.

Two years ago a group of Italian speaking Old Catholic communities, priests and people, which had been under the oversight of the Old Catholic Bishop of Switzerland were released by him and directed to seek oversight from Anglicans. (The Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht are in communion with the Anglican Churches, and have been since 1931). One of the former Old Catholic clergy and one or two communities placed themselves under the Episcopal Bishop of the Convocation in Europe, Pierre Whalon. Others sought incorporation into the Church of England Diocese in Europe.

As can be imagined the former Old Catholic communities and priests have been feeling rather insecure about their future, and have a host of anxieties, questions and concerns arising from what for some has been a feeling of being abandoned by their former Church. In their journey into the Diocese in Europe, therefore, we are working on bringing their constitutional and synodical life into alignment with Church of England norms while maintaining their distinct Old Catholic identity within what is now their larger new family.

Fr Jonathan Boardman and Mother Teodora
I began this work towards their integration into the Church of England with the then Archdeacon of Italy and Malta, Fr Jonathan Boardman, and have continued with his successor Archdeacon Vickie Sims. The Area Dean of Italy, Fr William Lister, and our own Director of Ordinands, Fr William Gulliford are also engaged with me in this process.

Last week a meeting was held in Rome, with two of the former Old Catholic priests, Madre Teodora Tosatti and Padre Luciano Bruno, Archdeacon Sims and myself. We made progress in this gentle task of integrating these sister communities into the Chiesa d'Inghilterra in Italia, caring for the unique Italian language and cultural heritage of these former Old Catholics with their own rich liturgical tradition, while welcoming them into our wider family.

Former Old Catholic communities exist in Perugia, Rome, Florence, and Sicily. New Italian language work is also being nurtured in Parma and Naples. There is also one vocations to the sacred ministry, and some enquiries about the same, so this will be a creative dimension to our already active ministry in Italy, indeed, perhaps even a fresh expression?

Monday, 1 August 2016

St Petersburg cross, a reminder of the refugee roots of St Nicholas's Helsinki

The Church of England is embarking on a programme to attract younger vocations to the priesthood. Many of us who were ordained in our 20s remember that the first inkling of a call to the sacred ministry often occurred when we were servers or acolytes, perhaps while still in our teens or even younger. The experience of being given a responsibility in the liturgy, and being entrusted with the privilege of handling "holy things" was powerful and formative.

The Revd Tuomas Mäkipää, Chaplain of St Nicholas's Helsinki, has already incorporated this insight into his own parish strategy. For example, Fr Tuomas's young daughter Linnea now takes her own leadership as an acolyte very seriously. With great care and dignity she leads the procession of the ministers in to the service, carrying the cross.

The cross she carries, incidentally, was the one that was once in our congregation in St Petersburg. The last members of that congregation brought it with them when they fled to Helsinki in 1917 at the outbreak of the revolution in Russia. Thus our congregation in the Finnish capital is reminded week by week that it was founded by refugees. Today, St Nicholas's continues to serve those fleeing for their lives, many of whom come from Sudan and South Sudan.