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, 25 May 2018

Ascension Day joy in Malaga

Ascension Day this year was especially joyful as I visited St George's Malaga for confirmations. There were 7 candidates who had been prepared by the Revd Doreen Cage, the Assistant Curate, and the Revd Gilly Pawson, honorary assistant priest.

St George's is the oldest Anglican Church in mainland Spain and over the years has given birth to the other chaplaincies along the Costa del Sol from Estepona to Almuñécar. Today it is a multicultural congregation, with members from the USA, Canada, Spain, Ireland, the UK and Nigeria among other countries.  

Candidates lead in song
Frequently part of the confirmation mass includes a moment when the candidates speak a word or two of testimony, witnessing to the reasons why they are taking this step. In St George's, the candidates led the congregation in song instead. Bearing witness is not always about words!

A festive gathering in the patio concluded the celebration.

Unknown to the parishioners, earlier that day the Churchwardens and I concluded the final steps in the appointment of a new Chaplain for St George's Malaga. (We could not announce it at the time of the Confirmation, as things had to be coordinated with London), but the word has now been made official and the Chaplaincy is very pleased indeed.

Canon Wignall with the Churchwardens 
The new Chaplain is the Revd Canon Paul Wignall. Fr Paul has held a number of parochial and diocesan posts in Truro, Coventry, Hereford and Lichfield dioceses. He has also taught at Ripon College, Cuddesdon. Besides being a priest, he is a trained social worker and a playwright. He is married to Carlynn, a Scot from the north-eastern town of Peterhead, who after more than 30 years as a civil servant has now found her true vocation working with young people in and out of school. Both are very excited about moving to Malaga. We welcome them to this diocese!

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Added joy at a confirmation in Torrevieja

With the bottle of water from the Jordan River
A recent confirmation service in the parish of SS Peter and Paul, Torrevieja, Spain, was special in two ways.

First of all the water that was used for the recalling of baptism was from the Jordan river itself. One of the candidates was given this as a gift to mark the occasion. The gathering at the font is a key part of the rite of confirmation, when those already baptised sign themselves with the water to remind them of their baptismal covenant and that moment when they were born anew in Christ.

Secondly, a candidate, Carole, from the neighbouring parish (2 hours away!), Costa Almería, joined the candidates from Torrevieja. Carole has mobility challenges which unfortunately prevented her from being able to attend her planned confirmation in her home chaplaincy, but was able to receive the sacrament in Torrevieja, joined by friends from Costa Almería who accompanied her. Torrevieja Chaplaincy is known for its warmth of welcome, and Carole was made to feel most at home. In her own words: "To say that our hosts at St Peter & St Paul, Torrevieja put on a superb display of hospitality would be an understatement."

SS Peter and Paul Torrevieja is a chaplaincy consisting of eight churches extending from just south of Alicante down the coast to La Manga near Cartagena. The Chaplain is the Revd Fr Richard Seabrook SSC.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Three members of our Gibraltar Archdeaconry Synod are honoured by the UK Ambassador to Spain

Canon Ormrod, Sandra Wrightson, Fr Seabrook
On Saturday 19th May, the UK Ambassador to Spain, HE Mr Simon Manley CMG, hosted a garden party for the Royal Wedding. Quite to their surprise, three members of our Gibraltar Archdeaconry Synod who were present were awarded certificates by the ambassador to acknowledge their contributions to the British communities in Spain, where they live, work and serve. The three honoured were the Revd Canon Paul Ormrod (Madrid), the Revd Fr Richard Seabrook SSC, (Torrevieja) and Sandra Wrightson (Nerja).

With HE the UK Ambassador
This award was completely unexpected, and the recipients feel very honoured indeed. It is good to know that the UK Embassy is aware of the vital role our congregations in Spain play in serving the large numbers of UK citizens in the country. Of course, we serve people of dozens of nationalities, but in Spain there are over 300,000 UK citizens resident full-time and so many of them look to our Churches for pastoral care, friendship and support.

We are very proud of the three recipients for this honour, and congratulate them!

Friday, 18 May 2018

A prayer for a brother being confirmed

Rosemary Selle with Candidate Danny
The English Church in Heidelberg is currently without a resident priest (we are actively recruiting) but that has not stopped the growth in faith among members of the congregation. Reader Rosemary Selle recently prepared a candidate for confirmation and presented him to me at a recent parish visit.

Testimonies are frequently given by the candidates for the sacrament of Confirmation, but in Heidelberg something different happened, which moved us all. A prayer was prayed for Danny, which had been composed by his big sister Divya. I post it below. It is beautiful.

Danny’s confirmation prayer written by his sister Divya:
Dear God,
Thank you for letting us all come and gather here today, under your watchful eye.
Thank you for guiding my brother all through his life and for staying with him through all these years both as a mentor and as a friend to turn to in times of need.
We are unendingly grateful to you, Oh Lord, for bringing my brother to this point in his life, where he is ready to become a part of your flock and ready to walk in the path that your son Jesus Christ has set before us.
We know, dear Lord, that you are always watching over us and protecting us, and for the constant holy presence of your Spirit, we give you thanks.
We learn and remember, every year, the sacrifice your beloved Son Jesus Christ made to save us from death and deliver us into eternal life in heaven, and we give you thanks.
We know that our beloved grandfather is also witnessing this incredible moment in my brother’s life with you, my Lord, through your almighty power, and for that we give you thanks.
I pray that you will continue to watch over my brother for the rest of his life, and that he will always have someone to turn to in times of trouble.
I pray that you will help my brother and keep him safe as he grows into a wonderful, caring person, as you have done so far.
And I pray, Oh Lord, that you make today special for my brother, so that he may carry the memories of this day well into his life and always remember you as well as always follow in the ways of your Son.
In Jesus’ name,
There has been Anglican worship in Heidelberg for over 400 years. The first services were held in the chapel of the castle.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Bishop Michael Curry, preacher at the upcoming royal wedding, a friend of our diocese

Catherine Jackson and Bishop Michael Curry
It is surprising news that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have asked the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church USA, the Most Revd Michael Curry, to preach at their wedding this Saturday. Many in the Church of England may not even have heard of him. However, he is known to this diocese in Europe, and we are known to him. When Catherine Jackson (former Appointments Secretary) and I had discussions with colleagues in New York about recruitment and appointments, Bishop Michael made himself available to us and was genuinely interested in the work and mission of our Diocese in Europe and fully supportive of it. He was pleased to know of the many priests of the Episcopal Church USA who have served or are serving congregations of our diocese, or who are on our extensive locum list. 

We found Bishop Michael to be a most warm and engaging person. I have never heard him preach, but he has a reputation of being one of the Communion's best preachers. My sense is he will present an attractive and exciting face of our global Anglican family at this high profile event.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Walking the Camino? Anglican ministry is now available for you in Santiago de Compostela

Last year over 300,000 pilgrims from around the world arrived in Santiago de Compostela. Today, 13 May, marked the launch of a new ministry to Anglican pilgrims in Santiago.

The Camino de Santiago Chaplaincy is an initiative of the Rev Alasdair Kay from the Diocese of Derby working with Archdeacon Geoff Johnston of Gibraltar and myself as lead bishop for the Archdeaconry of Gibraltar. We are blessed with the presence of a local coordinator, Sybille Yates, who is based in the city and who will oversee the arrangements for Anglican clergy and volunteers on the ground from her home which she has named the House of Egeria, after the remarkable 4th century woman pilgrim to Jerusalem. 

Egeria House is a short stroll from the Cathedral
All priests have Permission to Officiate for this work, and have accommodation provided in Santiago. During this seasonal ministry they provide pastoral care and support for pilgrims and celebrate the Holy Eucharist on Sundays and other Holy Days for them. Careful and fruitful ecumenical links have been established with the Roman Catholic authorities in the city, especially Don Segundo Perez, the Dean of the Cathedral, and Archbishop of Santiago the Most Revd Julián Barrio, who are supporting this Anglican initiative. 

Pilgrims wishing information on the Anglican chaplaincy in Santiago itself can contact Sybille at chaplains@sybilleyates.com.Sybille is fluent in English, Spanish and German. (General information can be found here: http://egeria.house/chaplaincy/)

Anglican priests who have walked the Camino and who would like to volunteer for this ministry and who can cover their own expenses (accommodation is provided in Santiago) are invited to contact the Revd Alasdair Kay (revaskay@gmail.com) for further information.

The pilgrimage is understood as a paradigm of life: Christ accompanies us on the way, and welcomes us at the end!

From a prayer of pilgrims:
Lord, give me your grace to contemplate the path of your earthly life and to be attracted further by the example of St James the Apostle. May I wholeheartedly follow you in the path of this life and find in you peace and joy without end.

Friday, 11 May 2018

Deacon Christine Saccali and the Prince of Wales

The Revd Deacon Christine Saccali
Deacon Christine Saccali, assistant curate at St Paul's Athens, had the honour of leading a liturgy of remembrance at the Commonwealth War Graves cemetery to the south of Athens on 10th of May. Not an unusual assignment for one of our clergy - except that this event was part of an official visit of HRH the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.

Deacon Christine was presented to Prince Charles who asked her about the location of our Church in Athens. Christine replied "right in the centre of Athens near Syntagma in all the chaos and confusion which is where it needs to be." His Royal Highness then asked, "Do you get a good congregation?", to which Deacon Christine answered, "Yes, as well as visitors and pilgrims in the steps of St Paul."

Earlier in the day the Prince of Wales had visited Archbishop Ieronymous of Athens at the Holy Synod. There they talked about Mt Athos, where the Prince has frequently visited. They spoke together of the warm relations between the Anglican Church and the Orthodox and the Prince learned of our combined programmes with Apostoli (the Greek Archdiocese's social outreach arm) for Greeks and refugees.

Later in the day, at a cordial Embassy reception reception, their Royal Highnesses, who were clearly well informed about the Church's work in Greece, spoke to Deacon Christine about social programmes to address domestic abuse.

A local TV channel remarked that Camilla's parasol and Deacon Christine "stole the show".

Anglican Centre in Rome, promoting Christian Unity in a divided world

Director of the Anglican Centre Arcbishop Bernard Ntahoturi is introduced to the Pope by Archbishop Welby
The Diocese in Europe is privileged to have in our midst the Anglican Centre in Rome (ACR). I say "in our midst" because even though located in the heart of Rome the ACR is a centre and a resource which belongs to the entire Anglican Communion. It was established over 50 years ago, following the historic encounter between Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey. Its Director, the Most Revd Bernard Ntahoturi, is the Archbishop of Canterbury's personal representative to the Holy See. It is a living symbol of our whole Communion's commitment to the full visible unity of the Church and is at the forefront of our global relations with the Roman Catholic Church in particular. As the Anglican Co-Chairman of IARCCUM (the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission) I have the honour of serving on the Board of Governors of the ACR. Archbishop Bernard is assisted by the Deputy Director, the Revd Dr Justin Lewis-Anthony.

Deputy Director Dr Justin Lewis-Anthony
Because of the ACR's location (and our own vitally important relations with the Roman Catholic Church across our diocese) we feel particularly close to its work, and in my view, should be at the forefront of the global network of supporters. Both Archbishop Bernard and Fr Justin have Permission to Officiate in this diocese, further consolidating our links. Furthermore, our diocese has a link person for the Centre, Lay Canon Ann Turner. Ann reminds us that this Sunday, 13th May, is a day when world-wide Anglicans are encouraged to pray for the work of the Anglican Centre in Rome.  I hope that its ministry will be included in the intercessions around our diocese this weekend.

Visitors to the ACR
We recently finished a board meeting at the Anglican Communion Office in London where we reviewed the extensive remit of the ACR, diplomatic, educational, support for pilgrims and promotion of common Anglican-Roman Catholic witness for justice and peace, just to name some important strands of its programme.  The Centre costs about £300,000 per year to run, and relies on support from across the Provinces of the Anglican Communion, including individual donations. (Donations can be received online here, by the way!) Canon Turner can provide more information to members of our diocese, including how individuals can join the "Friends of the Anglican Centre in Rome". 

At the Board of Governors, Bishop Catherine Waynick, Archbishop Bernard, and former Director Archbishop David Moxon
A prayer for the Anglican Centre in Rome
Almighty and everliving God, you have called us in the body of your son Jesus Christ to continue his work of reconciliation. In gratitude we celebrate the presence of the Anglican Centre in Rome and give thanks for its reconciling witness to Christian unity. As we remember the gift of hope that so inspired its creation, we pray that this same hope may strengthen us in our witness to justice and peace in the world, and encourage us in our commitment to one body, one faith, and one Lord, even Jesus Christ, your risenand glorified Son, who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.  

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Meissen Unplugged - a new vision for German and English Churches

Canon Nathaniel with his colleague planners of Meissen Unplugged
The Revd Canon Dr Leslie Nathaniel of St Thomas Becket Anglican Church in Hamburg recently participated in the planning of a major ecumenical consultation called Meissen Unplugged. (The Meissen Agreement between the German Protestant Churches (EKD) and the Church of England permits eucharistic hospitality between the two traditions, but not interchangeability of ministers).  The Meissen Unplugged consultation enabled English and German Church partners to look to new initiatives and opportunities for shared mission in the context of the social and political changes in Europe. It was a fruitful engagement and the results of the exploration will be fed into the formal Meissen Commission.

Some key challenges that the consultation addressed included:

  • the looming fact of becoming a minority church in both Germany and England
  • how to respond to populist movements of division and separation; what is the prophetic role of the Church?
  • how to build greater intergenerational confidence and witness in responding to situations of conflict and change

Drs Christa Grengel and Mary Tanner
Several eminent Lutheran bishops were present and gave key leadership. Dame Dr Mary Tanner of the Church of England and the Revd Dr Christa Grengel of the EKD, who were the co-secretaries of the dialogue that led to the Meissen Agreement in 1991, gave a moving presentation of the Meissen story, which had its origins in seeking reconciliation between the German and English peoples, after the war. 

It was Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie who, on a visit to Dresden in the 1980s, was so deeply moved by facing the people he once faced when he was a tank commander in the 1940s, that he urged a dialogue to begin. So Meissen combines the quest for unity of the churches with the quest for greater unity mong nations.  Thus it was sad to realise that when the Meissen discussions began, one partner Church, the East German Protestant, was in a country which was not part of the EU, but now, another partner Church, our own Church of England, will soon find itself in a country outside that union.   

There is still specialised theological work to be done, particularly on the matter of episcopal succession as a visible sign of apostolicity. But we realised that today people are not waiting so much for theological statements from the Churches, but words, messages and signs of hope. As one participant said, "mission and ecumenism are twins" and must walk together. 

St Thomas Becket Church hosted the consultation for a choral evensong on Friday 13 April as well as a festive ecumenical eucharist on Sunday 15 April, at which I was the presider and Bishop Gothart Magaard of Sprengel Schleswigun Holstein was the preacher. 

It is good to have one of our priests, Fr Leslie, with such ecumenical and theological expereince exercising key leadership in interchurch dialogue. 

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Malines Conversations Group: towards a common future for Anglicans and Roman Catholics

Many people know of the two official instruments of the international dialogue between the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church: ARCIC, (the theological dialogue) and IARCCUM (the episcopal commission on unity and mission, of which I am privileged to serve as the Anglican Co-chairman). Additionally there are many national and regional dialogues (ARCs) and many national and regional periodic gatherings of bishops from both traditions.

There is another dimension to our international dialogue which takes its inspiration from a unique initiative in the 1920s, long before Vatican II, and not long after Pope Leo XIII declared in the 1896 Bull Apostolicae Curae that Anglican Orders were "absolutely null and utterly void". I refer to the Malines Conversations. These were held from 1921 to 1926 under the presidency of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Malines-Brussels, Cardinal Mercier. The conversations involved a small group of Church of England and Roman Catholic representatives, brought together by the friendship between the Anglican Lord Halifax, and Roman Catholic priest Fr Etiene Portal. These conversations predate our official theological dialogue which began in 1967. The early Malines Conversations did some important ground work on ecclesiology, including articulating a vision of the restoration of communion between Anglicans and Roman Catholics, summarised in the phrase  l’Église Anglicane unie non absorbée. 

Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark NJ
St Thomas's 5th Avenue
In 2013, with the blessing of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity and Lambeth Palace, the Conversations began again with theologians from each Communion taking up the task began in the 1920s. Today the Malines Conversations Group continues to explore matters which the official theological dialogue is not mandated to do, including the difficult question of Anglican Orders. This year we met in New Jersey, from 8 - 12 April, hosted by Cardinal Joseph Tobin of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark. In addition to our theological work, we visited St Luke's-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church in Greenwich Village for the Sunday mass, St Thomas's Episcopal Church on 5th Avenue Manhatten for Evensong, and the RC Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Newark NJ for a eucharist celebrated by Cardinal Tobin.

The intense theological discussions are driven by our common commitment as Anglicans and Roman Catholics, in obedience to Our Lord's command, to walk together as the one Body of Christ in our divided world. So we shared a surreal moment when we caught a glance of a Donald Trump impersonator as we walked through Times Square after Church!

Just for the record: Not a member of the Malines Conversations Group
It was good to be together at the meeting with my IARCCUM counterpart, RC Co-Chairman Archbishop Donald Bolen of Regina Saskatchewan, and another Canadian member of the Conversations Group, the Revd Dr Jennifer Cooper, who teaches systematic theology at Mirfield, and is research fellow in theology at Campion Hall, Oxford.

Here is the official communiqué from the recent Malines Conversations Group meeting:

The Malines Conversation Group held its Sixth Meeting at the San Alfonso Retreat House, Long Branch New Jersey on 8th-12th April 2018.

This is an international group of Anglican and Roman Catholic theologians committed to dialogue and unity. The group takes its name and inspiration from the original Malines Conversations of the 1920s. These early informal conversations, held between a small group of British Anglicans and European Roman Catholics, were made possible because of the bonds of friendship between the members of the group. The current Malines Conversation Group is under the patronage of Cardinal Godfried Danneels (Archbishop Emeritus of Malines-Brussels) and The Right Reverend and Right Honourable The Lord Williams of Oystermouth (former Archbishop of Canterbury), and meets with the blessing and support of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity and Lambeth Palace. Like its predecessor, it is an informal group while at the same time it keeps in close contact with the official mandated ecumenical bodies in both communions; it includes members of the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) and the Anglican Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM). Last year’s meeting at Clare College, Cambridge, UK, continued work of previous meetings on questions of sacramentality and ordination, with particular focus on liturgical theology, canon law, and the relation between theological anthropology and ordination in both communions.  

This sixth meeting developed each of these areas in greater depth as resources for ecumenical theology, continuing to sharpen the focus on the question of ‘order’. A number of distinguished theologians presented papers to further these discussions. The Revd Prof Gordon Lathrop (Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia) offered two papers, on the ‘Ecclesial Grammar of Scripture’ and on the ‘Reality of Life at the Root of the Reality of Holy Order’. The Revd Prof Sarah Coakley (Cambridge University) and Prof Dr Antoine Courbain (Université Saint-Joseph de Beyrouth) offered an interdisciplinary session on ‘Perspectives on Gender and the Human Person’. The Revd Prof Paul McPartlan (Catholic University of America) presented a close reading of ecclesial texts, asking the question: ‘Can it be said that the church of Christ subsistit in the Anglican Communion?’ The Revd Prof Alexander Rentel (Saint Vladimir’s Theological Seminary) offered a paper on ‘The Concept of Oikonomia from an Orthodox Perspective’. Archbishop Donald Bolen and Cardinal Joseph Tobin offered their reflections on the current ecumenical context; the overarching theme of this shared conversation was one of hope.

A number of themes recurred throughout the sessions, most notably the recognition that liturgical language, rich in symbol, sign, word and gesture, offers rich possibilities for expressing the reality of unity and communion we share already. And it gives rise to possible methodologies for developing new layers of unity as we continue to explore the reception of orders and fuller communion together. 

The Group benefited from the beautiful and peaceful setting of San Alfonso Retreat House, and from the generous hospitality received from General Theological Seminary in New York, the Jesuits at St Peter’s Villa, Sea Bright, NJ, and from Cardinal Joseph Tobin, Archbishop of Newark, who hosted a closing Eucharist in his Cathedral followed by a festive lunch in his Residence. The communities of Saint Luke in the Fields and St Thomas’, New York provided a warm welcome on the first Sunday of the meeting. 

The Group is grateful to all its supporters and sponsors. A seventh meeting is planned for next Spring, in York, UK.

Anglican members:

The Most Revd Bernard Ntahoturi, Representative of the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Holy See and the director of the Anglican Centre in Rome.

The Right Revd David Hamid, Suffragan Bishop of the Church of England Diocese in Europe; Co-chairman of IARCCUM  

The Most Revd David Moxon, Co-Chairman of ARCIC III and former representative of the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Holy See and director of the Anglican Centre in Rome

The Revd Dr Jennifer Cooper, Lecturer in Theology, College of the Resurrection, Mirfield; Research Fellow, Campion Hall, Oxford

The Revd Dr James Hawkey, Dean of Clare College, Cambridge; member of the International Anglican-Reformed Dialogue; member of the CofE-URC Dialogue

The Revd Dr Simon Jones, Chaplain and Fellow of Merton College, Oxford ; Honorary Canon of Christ Church, Oxford and Chichester Cathedral; Member of the Church of England Liturgical Commission

The Revd Dr Jeremy Morris, Master of Trinity Hall, Cambridge; Senior Associate of the Cambridge Theological Federation, Affiliated Lecturer at the Faculty of Divinity, Cambridge University, Fellow of the Royal Historical Society

The Revd Dr Michael Nai-Chiu Poon, Canon theologian of St Andrew’s Cathedral, Singapore, and ministerial formation director and sub-warden of St Peter’s Hall, The Diocese of Singapore

The Very Revd Canon David Richardson, Former representative of the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Holy See and director of the Anglican Centre in Rome

The Revd Canon Professor Nicholas Sagovsky, Former Canon Theologian at Westminster Abbey; member of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC)

Catholic members:

His Eminence Joseph Cardinal Tobin, C.Ss.R, Archbishop of Newark

The Revd Canon Anthony Currer, Secretary to the Anglican and Methodist dialogues at the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Rome

The Revd Professor Marc R. Francis, President of The Catholic Theological Union, Chicago, Illinois

Professor Joris Geldhof, Professor of liturgical studies and sacramental theology at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium; Chair of the Liturgical Institute Leuven; Editor-in-chief of the bilingual journal Questions Liturgiques/Studies in Liturgy; President of Societas Liturgica

Dr Maryana Hnyp, Coordinator of Inter-Religious Affairs, KU Leuven; Institutional Development Officer, Caritas Europa

The Revd Professor Keith Pecklers, SJ, Professor of Liturgy at the Pontifical Gregorian University (Rome), Professor of Liturgical History at the Pontifical Liturgical Institute of Sant’Anselmo (Rome); Founding president of the International Jungmann Society

The Revd Professor Thomas Pott OSB, Monastery of Chevetogne (Belgium); Professor of Oriental Liturgy and Sacramentology at the Pontifical Atheneum Sant’Anselmo and at the Pontifical Oriental Institute (Rome); Consultor of the Sacred Congregation for the Eastern Churches and of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity

The Revd Cyrille Vael OSB, Monastery of Chevetogne (Belgium); Advisor of NNE (New Narrative for Europe) of the Department for Promotion and Protection of the Regional Cultural Heritage of Europe (European Commission).

Dr. Clare Watkins, Lecturer of Ministerial Theology, Department of Humanities, University of Roehampton, London, UK

Friday, 27 April 2018

First ever ANZAC Day commemoration in St George's Madrid

ANZAC Day falls on the 25 April each year. It is a commemoration to honour the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli against the Ottoman Empire during World War I. The Revd Canon Paul Ormrod from St George's Madrid reported that last Wednesday, possibly the first ever ANZAC day service was held in St George's in the Spanish capital. The event began with a conversation that Fr Paul had with someone who works at the Australian Embassy, who attended an event at St George's to promote the cricket team he plays for in Madrid!

The service was well attended with the Australian and New Zealand Ambassadors both making speeches.  The service also included a reading in Turkish and English by the Turkish defence attache. There were four national anthems - Australian, New Zealand (sung in Maori and English), Turkish and Spanish. Following the service, the refreshments included "Gallipoli biscuits"!

Fittingly, Fr Paul was joined in leading the service by Fr Richard Seabrook SSC, Chaplain at Torrevieja, who was for some years a Rector and then Archdeacon in Australia.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Rejoice heavenly powers, sing choirs of angels: Easter at Christ Church Vienna

One of the highlights of the Sacred Three Days I spent with Christ Church Vienna was the Easter Vigil. This liturgy is among the most moving in the Church. It begins dramatically on Holy Saturday evening with the blessing of the new fire, and the lighting of the paschal candle. Thankfully, the rain in Vienna held off until the ceremony of the new fire was completed, and the Deacon, who has the most dangerous job in Holy Week, was able to light the paschal candle without setting himself on fire!

The Deacon then processed the paschal candle into the dark Church, symbolising the dark tomb where Christ lay dead. Then with blazing candles held by the assembly, he chanted the ancient Exultet, a magnificent hymn, which with lyric beauty announces the joy and mystery of Easter: "This is the night, when Christ broke the chains of death, and rose triumphant from the grave". 

Readings and psalmody helped us meditate on the works of God for his people since the beginning of time, culminating with the glorious Easter Gospel.

In Christ Church, as across the whole Church, this is a night when new Christians are initiated into the faith through baptism, and many are confirmed and received, strengthened by the Holy Spirit for their risen life with Christ and together with the faithful received the Holy Communion at the first Eucharist of Easter.

Catechumens anointed before their baptism

Confirmation candidates sign themselves with the Easter water to remind themselves of their baptism

In a parish like Christ Church, the organist and choir contribute significantly to the liturgies of the Church, and particularly in the Sacred Triduum, they have the opportunity to sing, not only the great hymns from across the ages, but the psalms, litanies and motets which accompany the liturgical action.

Some of the liturgical details are not quite so ancient, but nevertheless add to the joy of the Easter feast, such as the blessing of the chocolate at the conclusion of the Easter Day mass!

The joy of the Easter celebrations at Christ Church was hard to stifle. It was a blessed time of wonder, hope and praise. Thank you Fr Patrick and your people at Christ Church for the celebrations!