The Church of England’s suffragan bishop in Europe, David Hamid, has paid a visit to one of the continent’s newest Anglican congregations and offered a blessing for its priest, the Revd Giovanni La Rosa, who was received into the Church of England in April. Rosa, a native of the Province of Catania, in Sicily, was ordained to the priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church in 2005. He resigned in 2013 and formed a new church with local people gathered around him.
Last November, the embryonic congregation was received as an Italian Anglican congregation in the Diocese in Europe, and in April this year, once the formal permission from the Archbishop of Canterbury had been obtained, Father Giovanni was himself received as a Church of England priest during the Chrism Eucharist at All Saints Church in Milan.
“There are several communities of Anglicans who worship in Italian across the Archdeaconry,” Bishop David said. “This is a relatively new development, to provide such ministry to Anglicans where it is requested whilst maintaining our clear position and policy, that we do not engage in proselytism of Christians from other traditions but work with our sister Churches wherever we are with ecumenical solidarity and commitment.”
After ordination in the Roman Catholic diocese of Acireale, Rosa spent three years studying at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. In 2008 he was appointed pastor of Sacred Heart Church in the town of Randazzo in his native Sicily. The new congregation, now known as the Church of Saint Albert of Trapani, is named after a 13th Century Sicilian saint – a Carmelite who was widely known for his preaching and miraculous healings
Earlier this month, Bishop David joined “a warm and enthusiastic gathering” as he made his first visit to St Albert’s, on the slopes of Mount Etna, for a mass to celebrate the Feast of the Holy Cross. The mass was an Italian translation of the Church of England’s Common Worship. The Archdeacon of Italy and Malta, Vickie Sims, served as the deacon of the mass and translated the bishop’s homily for the service, which was broadcast on local television.
Father Giovanni “has been mentored by clergy of the archdeaconry and continues his journey deeper into the Anglican tradition, according to the norms of the diocese,” Bishop David said.
During the service, he offered a blessing in Italian for Father Giovanni and “his ministry among the faithful of St Albert of Trapani”: Il Signore ti conceda la gioia di presiedere e di servire fedelmente, in comunione con il tuo Vescovo e con il tuo Arcidiacono, la comunità italiana anglicana: Annuncia la parola di Dio, Celebra la grazia di Dio testimoniando la carità di Cristo. Amen (The Lord grant you the joy of presiding and serving faithfully. In communion with your bishop, your archdeacon, and the Italian Anglican community, proclaim the Word of God, and celebrate the grace of God, bearing witness to the love of Christ. Amen.)
“The visit of the bishop reminds us that our community is part of the great family of the Church of Jesus, following in the Anglican tradition,” the church said on its website after the service. “We thank the Lord for this pastoral visit and confirmed in faith we continue our path in the Anglican way, with conviction and enthusiasm.”