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.

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Wednesday, 25 December 2019

A joyful Christmas to all!

San Ignazio, Rome

I wish all the clergy and faithful of the Diocese in Europe and all readers of this blog a joyful and blessed Christmas!

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

St George's Venice: a welcoming home for students and young adults

Fr Malcolm Bradshaw reports from St George's Venice, as he observes rising waters covering the ground floor of his flat again, that a month of high tides and flooding is beginning to be quite tedious. Nevertheless the parish is in good heart and attendance strong. 

In the past year, pews were removed from St George's, replaced by movable seating which has greatly enhanced the use of this wonderful Church building in the heart of La Serenissima. 

Fr Malcolm writes about one such opportunity, reaching out to students and young adults in this city:

"Over the past twelve months international students from the University of Ca’ Foscari, Venice, and similar establishments have attended worship at St George’s, Venice. Mrs Gilly Wiscarson, a member of the Chaplaincy Council, took the initiative to invite these students to a meeting accompanied by a plate of food which she herself prepared. As a result a monthly gathering has emerged and numbers have increased to twenty seven. These gatherings are not limited to students but are open to any adult within the same age range. Nor are any conditions imposed such as attendance at Church or being Christian.
On the evening of Friday 13th December a Christmas party was held at St George’s for these students. It was truly international and inter-faith. Young adults from Nigeria, Kenya, Mongolia, Ethiopia, Romania, the United States, India and elsewhere shared the occasion. Some were from different Christian denominations; others were from non-Christian traditions. Members of the Chaplaincy Council helped with hosting this occasion. It was truly a time of fun, lively conversation and an ease of relationships. Towards the end of the evening the students presented Gilly with a bunch of yellow roses and a gift expressing their thanks for the monthly meetings - for the laughter they enjoy, the sharing of difficulties whilst abroad and the taste of some home cooking."

Fr Geoff Johnston: 50 years a priest!

Surrounded by 9 priests, 1 deacon, 2 archdeacons and 2 bishops, the Revd Canon Geoff Johnston celebrated his golden jubilee of priesthood on Sunday 22 December. Christ Church Belper was filled for the anniversary mass. Archdeacon Geoff was joined by his wife Carol, members of his family, parishioners, and friends and former colleagues from around the UK and the continent.

Fr Geoff has served the Church in many roles over these past 50 years: parish priest, industrial missioner, lecturer, ecumenical officer, area dean, assistant director of ordinands, and acting Archdeacon of Gibraltar, and acting Archdeacon of Italy and Malta. It was a joyful and moving occasion indeed, particularly at the heart of the service when Fr Geoff recited in the eucharistic prayer "we thank you for counting us worthy to stand in your presence and serve you".

Ad multos annos!

Saturday, 21 December 2019

A new deacon ordained on St Lucy's Day

The home of our Chuch of England congregation in Bergen Norway is the 12 century Mariakirken (St Mary's Church). It is not only the oldest Church but the oldest building in the city, dating from some time between 1130 and 1170.  

This ancient Church was the venue for the ordination of the newest deacon in our diocese, the Revd Kirk Weisz. On St Lucy's Day, (Friday 13 December), the congregation gathered to celebrate this joyful step in Kirk's journey towards priesthood. 

Archdeacon Leslie presents the ordinand
Kirk has for many years been a minister of the Presbyterian Church, USA. His discernment to embrace Anglican orders, supported by our Director of Ordinands and the Candidate's Panel of the Church of England's Ministry Division, is in direct continuity with his flourishing pastoral ministry, as was pointed out by the preacher at the service, the Revd Jules Cave-Berquist. Mother Jules emphasised that God does not set aside what is good and fruitful, but builds on it. 

Reader Iris reads one of the lessons
Archdeacon Leslie Nathaniel, the relatively new Archdeacon of Germany and Northern Europe presented the ordinand. Registrar Aiden Hargreaves-Smith certified to all the legalities being fulfilled. Reader Iris Bjørnø read one of the lessons. I was assisted by the Senior Chaplain of Norway, the Revd Darren McCallig (Bergen is one of the 4 principal congregations within the Anglican Chaplaincy in Norway). Deacon Frances Hiller was deacon of the mass. 

The ordinand prostrates (an ancient biblical sign of humility) as the Veni Creator and Litany are sung
Saint Lucy's Day, or Santa Lucia, is a great feast in much of Scandinavia, including Norway. It is celebrated as a festival of light (Lucy comes from the Latin lux, light) in the dark of the Nordic winter, as the feast day of this 4th century martyr was the winter solstice before the Gregorian calendar reforms. It is a fitting day for a deacon's ordination, as a deacon is charged with bringing the light of the Gospel to God's people and to the world. 

We welcome Kirk into the clergy of this diocese, and thank God for the many gifts he brings in his ministry. 

Deacon Kirk Weisz, 4th from left)

Monday, 2 December 2019

Lay ministers (Readers) gather for in depth theological exploration of the Anglican heritage

The Diocese in Europe has been described as "the Anglican Communion in miniature". Not a bad description, given that 40 of the 165 countries of the Anglican world are in this diocese! Not a bad description since in most of our congregations there are over a dozen nationalities at worship. Not a bad description given that our present licensed clergy come from about 20 different countries around the world. It often surprises folk who come to know our diocese that migrants from the UK are no longer the majority in so many of our congregations. Our diaspora communities are made up of migrants from all around the world!

Canon Paul Wignall, Director of Reader Ministry
If we are "the Anglican Communion in miniature" it follows that our Licensed Lay Ministers (Readers), as preachers and teachers of the faith, need to be very familiar with the essentials of Anglican ecclesiology, the nature of the Anglican Communion and the fruits and challenges of Anglican ecumenical dialogue with other Christian traditions. Those who are in training for Reader Ministry in this diocese are required therefore to attend at some point in their formation (or as soon after admission to this ministry as possible) a weekend in-depth seminar on "The Anglican Tradition". Thus our trained lay theologians in this diocese are well equipped to understand our international Communion, its history and contemporary challenges, our ecumenical vision and commitments, as well as our own particular C of E structure, governance and legal/canonical tradition. (Canon law is after all simply "applied ecclesiology").

Registrar Aiden Hargreaves-Smith illustrates the governance of the Church of England
This past weekend 19 Lay Ministers or Lay Ministers in training attended this seminar. It was led by the new Director of Reader Ministry, the Revd Canon Paul Wignall. Keynote speakers were our Diocesan Registrar, Aiden Hargreaves-Smith, Dr Alan Wakely, former Secretary of the Central Readers' Council, my Chaplain Deacon Frances Hiller, and myself.

Aiden engaged the Readers in a lively, participatory presentation on the governance and canons of the Church of England. Fr Paul introduced us to three contemporary Anglican theologians from our global Communion, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Bishop Michael Curry and Dr Kwok Pui Lan. Dr Wakely led an fascinating historical account tracing the ministry of Reader back to the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII. Deacon Frances presented on music in the Anglican tradition, from Choral Evensong, through hymnody and modern worship songs, emphasising how most Anglicans in the pews learn much of their theology from the hymns and worship songs they sing. My lectures were on the principles of Anglican ecclesiology, the development of the Anglican Communion, and what Anglicans have contributed to and learned from our ecumenical dialogues.

Deacon Frances on Anglican music
Trainee Lay Minister Eric Sibomana from Holy Trinity Brussels commented on the weekend, "I have discovered so much about the Anglican tradition....and I have been a cradle Anglican! Throughout this seminar, j'ai été à la fois surpris et enrichi" (I have been both surprised and enriched).

Saturday, 23 November 2019

St Paul's Pro Cathedral Valletta celebrates 175th anniversary of consecration

The spire of St Paul's Pro Cathedral on the Valletta skyline
Dowager Queen Adelaide was the Royal Benefactor who wished to establish a "Collegiate Church in the Anglican Tradition" in Malta. St Paul's, Valletta, is now one of the two Pro-Cathedrals in the Diocese (the other is in Brussels) which together with our Cathedral in Gibraltar make us rather well endowed as far as cathedrals go!

The Main Entrance to St Paul's, by night
2 - 3 November was a busy weekend for the Pro-Cathedral. Over the course of the two days, several events were held to mark the 175th anniversary of the consecration of the building. 

When consecrated by the then Bishop of Gibraltar on All Saints day 1844 it was dedication to St Paul who holds great significance for the Maltese. He was the first Christian missionary to the island when he was shipwrecked there around AD 59/60, thus was the Apostolic founder of the Church there.  For this reason, the Chancellor of the Pro-Cathedral, the Revd Canon Simon Godfrey, thought it fitting that consecration crosses be installed and blessed as part of the anniversary. Consecration crosses are reminders in our physical buildings that the Church of God is built on the foundation of the Apostles of Jesus Christ.This unusual liturgical event occurred on 2 November during a Requiem Mass celebrated for the Friends of St Paul's AGM. 

As fitting as this ceremony was, it was not thought fitting (or safe, given what I was wearing) for me to climb up the ladder to bless the crosses. The intrepid Fr Simon, much fitter than I, climbed the ladder to consecrate each of the six crosses while I remained on terra firma to recite the prayer of blessing.  

The next day, All Saints Sunday, the 175th anniversary itself was celebrated in a festive mass. The President of the Republic of Malta, Dr George Vella KCMG and the British High Commissioner, HE Stuart Gill OBE were present as well as ambassadors from Germany and Italy, and several government ministers and ecumenical dignitaries. 

HE President Vella and Mme Vella, with Chancellor Canon Simon Godfrey
It was a joy on that occasion also to witness the Revd Canon David Waller be installed in his stall (of St John Henry Newman), by the Chancellor. Fr David is the Archdeacon-designate to serve the two archdeaconries of Italy and Malta and Gibraltar. 

Archdeacon Designate Canon David Waller
The Pro Cathedral is in the midst of a capital appeal for a complete restoration. It is the largest appeal ever of its kind in our diocese, with a target of €8 million. So far, €5.2 million have been raised, which includes a generous donation from the European Union. The restoration will include urgent repairs to the spire which is a central part of the iconic Valletta skyline, as well as other works inside and pressing. An appeal is being launched to raise more than €8,000,000 (more than €8 million) for vital restoration work. The fund will be ring-fenced for this work only - it will not be used for running expenses.
The need is pressing. An appeal is being launched to raise more than €8,000,000 (more than €8 million) for vital restoration work. The fund will be ring-fenced for this work only - it will not be used for running expenses.

Thursday, 21 November 2019

Interns in Rome: from pub with the vicar to verging the Archbishop of Canterbury

MES interns Edoardo (with the cross) and Ksenia (with the candle) serving at All Saints, Rome
The Ministry Experience Scheme (MES) of the Church of England offers young adults aged 18 to 30 the opportunity to serve in a parish as part of the discernment of a possible call to the ministry.  We have three MES interns in the Diocese in Europe serving on the scheme this year (it is the 5th year we have participated and we were among the first dioceses to do so) and two of them are assigned to All Saints Rome.

One of the Rome interns, Ksenia Smykova, is a native of Russia. The other, Edoardo Fanfani, is an Italian-American. Typical of our international diocese! Both appear to be having a very enriching time, working along Fr Rob Warren, the Chaplain of All Saints, and supporting in a diverse range of ways the life and ministry of the Chaplaincy. As Ksenia said recently, "MES enables me to engage full time in the service that I love. I don't know where I will be when the programme ends, but while I'm here the goal is to give all that I can to this parish, dedicating the work to God."

The work of a MES intern is varied.  In All Saints for instance, Ksenia and Edoardo are nvolved in the liturgies, in organising parochial events, in working on social media, and in leading study groups. They have initiated and are supporting an additional mid-week mass on Thursdays, followed by a soup lunch (which they prepare). They have also rounded up a group of young adults for occasional evenings of conversation and fellowship called "pub with the vicar". 

L to R: (RC priest) Fr Robert McCullogh, Anglican Centre in Rome Director Archbishop Ian Ernest, Fr Rob Warren, Intern Ksenia on the day of her reception into the Church of England.
A couple of weeks ago, I had the distinct pleasure of receiving Ksenia formally into the communion of the Church of England (she comes from an Orthodox background). I was also proud of Edoardo who was the verger for the service at which the new Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome was installed by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

"Pub with the Vicar" - a young adult gathering organised by the interns
In the Diocese in Europe, the MES scheme is made possible through commitment from the host chaplaincies, grants from foundations, some finance from the National Ministry Division and from the Diocesan Board of Finance. Dr Clare Amos, the Director of Lay Discipleship oversees the MES scheme in our Diocese. In addition to service in their assigned Chaplaincy, the interns participate in supervised theological and pastoral reflection organised by Dr Amos.

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Patriarch of Venice visits St George's

Fr Malcolm, Chaplain of St George's, the Patriarch and Fr Andrea, the priest responsible for the Gesuati parish 

On Wednesday 23rd October, the Patriarch of Venice, His Beatitude Francesco Moraglia, made a visit to St George’s Anglican Church in the city. He had dedicated the greater part of a whole week to a pastoral visit to the Roman Catholic parish of Gesuati in which St George’s is situated. This parish is composed of various significant churches to which are attached schools and institutions. Within his heavy schedule he had expressed a wish to visit St George’s, meet with the community and there hold a brief moment of prayer. After the prayers he spoke of both Churches standing under the Cross. He also mentioned that whenever he travelled up the Grand Canal and passed St. George’s he offered a prayer for its ministry. 

This is not the first visit of a Patriarch of Venice to St George’s. Nevertheless, it speaks of the warmth of relationship and mutual respect that now exists between the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Church. 

Monday, 14 October 2019

St John Henry Newman: uniting Roman Catholics and Anglicans

A vigil for John Henry Newman in Sta Maria Maggiore Basilica on the eve of the canonisation
John Henry Newman, the key figure in the Oxford Movement in the Church of England who converted to Roman Catholicism in 1845, was canonised by Pope Francis yesterday in Rome. His conversion was highly controvesial in the middle of the nineteenth century and at the time was felt by many to be a setback for the Oxford Movement itself. Nevertheless, we Anglicans owe much to Newman for his teaching and influence which restored to the Church of England a renewed understanding its rootedness in the Catholic Church of Christ. 

Pope Francis receiving the offertory gifts at the mass
I have a particular admiration for the way that Newman taught both Anglicans and Roman Catholics about how doctrine in the life of the Church can develop, through such doctrine being rooted implictly in Holy Scripture, attested to by the Tradition of the Church (through Patristic and other theologians), and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit affirmed by the Church as a whole. It was remarkable in both Anglican and Roman Catholic theological circles of his day, that Newman underlined the active role of the lay faithful together with the ordained, in keeping and handing down the Apostolic Faith and leading the Church forward in understanding the truth of the Gospel. 

The Saint's thought ended up having a major influence in the Second Vatican Council, which in its Constitution on Divine Revelation, Dei Verbum (which I consider to be one of the most important texts of Vatican II), states, "For there is a growth in the understanding of the realities and the words which have been handed down. This happens through the contemplation and study made by believers, who treasure these things in their hearts (see Luke, 2:19, 51) through a penetrating understanding of the spiritual realities which they experience, and through the preaching of those who have received through Episcopal succession the sure gift of truth. For as the centuries succeed one another, the Church constantly moves forward toward the fullness of divine truth until the words of God reach their complete fulfillment in her." (Dei Verbum Para.8).

HRH Prince Charles speaking at the reception following the mass
No wonder that HRH Prince Charles, who attended the canonisation then a reception hosted by the UK Embassy to the Holy See, encouraged us all, Anglicans and Roman Catholics, to celebrate St John Henry as a priest, poet but above all as a thinker ahead of his time. "One of the greatest theologians of the nineteenth century", is how Prince Charles described him.  

Registrar Mr Aiden Hargreaves-Smith, All Saints Rome Chaplain Fr Robert Warren
The Revd Canon Matthew Harrison
The Diocese in Europe was well represented at the canonisation. Our Diocesan Registrar, Mr Aiden Hargreaves-Smith, the Revd Canon Matthew Harrison (formerly Chaplain of St George's Paris and the first occupant of the stall of John Henry Newman in the Pro Cathedral in Valletta), and the Chaplain of All Saints, Rome, the Revd Robert Warren, joined me in the delegation. It was fitting for us to be present as our late Bishop Geoffrey Rowell was himself a Newman scholar, who shared with many of us in the diocese and beyond his esteem for the saint's enduring theological gifts to the whole Church of Christ. Bishop Geoffrey, I believe, was also influenced by John Henry Newman's approach to teaching as being not merely an academic and intellectual exercise to impart learning, but an engagement that involved pastoral care for the whole person as well.

Aiden with the Most Revd Ian Ernest, the new Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome
There were several other bishops, clergy and laity from the Church of England and the Anglican Communion in attendance, where we were given privileged seats a few metres from His Holiness for the canonisation mass. Archbishop Ian Ernest, the new Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, who has just arrived in the city, was greeted personally by the Pope, who momentarily stepped out of the entrance procession to speak to him.

As the Synod for the Pan Amazon region is still underway in Rome, there were also large numbers of bishops and faithful from that part of the world, including some of the indigenous peoples of Amazonia, with whom I had some conversation about their struggles, particularly environmental and human rights related, in their homelands.

When Newman preached his last sermon as a priest of the Church of England it was entitled, "The Parting of Friends". Somehow at the canonisation we Anglicans felt reunited with our Roman Catholic friends. Perhaps St John Henry Newman should be the patron of ecumenism as some have suggested. 

Here is St John Henry's evening prayer, which is in Common Worship: Daily Prayer

Support us, O Lord, all the day long of this troublous life, until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes, the busy world is hushed, the fever of life is over and our work is done.
Then, Lord, in your mercy grant us a safe lodging, a holy rest, and peace at the last;
through Christ our Lord.

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Archbishop of Palermo at Italy / Malta Synod, a historic moment

Archbishop Lorefice with some of the Archdeaconry clergy
The Italy/Malta Synod was held from 25-28 September in Palermo, Sicily. The theme, "Welcoming, Invitation and Hospitality" was explored through bible studies, plenary sessions and through chaplaincies sharing highlights from their community life. One of the features of this archdeaconry is the fact that some churches are located in places with large numbers of visitors and pilgrims (such as Venice, Florence and Rome). We also recognised that a common feature across the Archdeaconry (and the diocese) is that by and large our members are migrants; that is to say that most of our members come from "somewhere else". Many of our churches in Italy and Malta are exploring how their communities can be a home and a place of welcome for newer waves of migrants who are settling in these countries, from places other than the UK. There is a special charism in being a migrant church.  

During the synod a presentation was also heard on "thy Kingdom Come", the novena of prayer between Ascension and Pentecost, originally a Church of England initiative, but now a global ecumenical phenomenon. The new Diocesan Secretary, Mr Andrew Caspari, also was present at this his first synod of this Archdeaconry.  

Archbishop Corrado Lorefice
We were blessed with the visit of the Archbishop of Palermo, Corrado Lorefice, who graciously agreed to be our preacher at one of the masses during the synod. His Excellency gave an inspiring sermon on the Eucharist, linking the sacred meal to our Christian calling to provide the Bread of Justice in the world. I believe that this was the first occasion when a Roman Catholic Archbishop has preached at one of our synods. A very positive sign of our growing together as Anglicans and Roman Catholics.

The synod was not all work. A pub quiz organised concluded the meeting, with a very humble team emerging as winner. 

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

The sound of the conch being blown, ancient pre Columbian languages, mariachi and tightrope - all part of a Mexican consecration

The Caracol is blown to call the people to prayer
In the Church of England, the Archbishop (of York or Canterbury) when consecrating a new bishop lays out the duties of a bishop including "joining together in the ordination of bishops". Participating in the ordination of new bishops takes place, for me, most frequently in the Church of England. However, I was asked recently to be a co-consecrator for a new bishop in Mexico, and to preach at the consecration mass. It was a great privilege to do so, as the new bishop was an old friend, Fr Julio César Martin Trejo, now the Coadjutor Bishop of South East Mexico.

I have known Fr (now Bishop) Julio for 30 years. He was still in seminary when we first met. The consecration was in the Anglican Centre in Tuxtepec, in Oaxaca state. (The diocesan centre is in Xalapa, while the largest city in the diocese is Veracruz). Bishops from Mexico, the USA and Spain were present for the service on St Matthew's day, as well as clergy and laity from across the diocese, other Mexican dioceses and beyond. The Primate of Mexico, the Most Revd Francisco Moreno, presided. 

The episcopal regalia set out awaiting the consecration
It was a joyful and colourful occasion, with the liturgy (and preaching) in Spanish, readings and prayers in Zapateco, Maya and Chinanteco. The mass began with the solemn sound of the caracol  - a large conch-like shell - a pre-Columbian tradition marking a sacred event. The congregation included many more young persons than would be seen in England.

Representatives of communities in the diocese present the candidate to be consecrated

Tuxtepec has a very hot and humid microclimate. It was the sweatiest service (of about 2 1/2 hours length) I have been at for quite some time!

Bishop Julio, newly consecrated
Bishop Julio faces many challenges. The faithful of South East Mexico are majority indigenous people and a number of distinct indigenous languages are spoken. Many are not able to understand Spanish well. The people are economically poor, but rich in their faith and in their cultural traditions. There are also many migrants moving through from countries to the south such as Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, most of whom are heading for the USA. The communities of the diocese are scattered over large distances, and transportation is not always readily available and roads are not always smooth.

A young server filled with joy
Following the service a banquet was offered by the laity of one of the communities of the diocese. This included some features are not seen in Church of England consecrations: a mariachi band to accompany the eating and drinking, for instance. Also a youth group performed afterwards for the new bishop, including a demonstration of tightrope acrobatics. Now this, I thought, ought to be part of the C of E ceremony - a tightrope act is particularly apt symbol of episcopal ministry!

Ad multos annos, Bishop Julio!