On Sunday 6th November, history was made in the town of Randazzo in the province of Catania (Sicily). A congregation of Italians was received as a church of the Church of England in the Diocese in Europe.

It was a dramatic event that began four years ago under the guidance of Father Jonathan Boardman, Archdeacon for Italy and Malta, Father Russell Ruffino, the current Locum at Holy Cross Church, Palermo, and Vickie Sims, the new Archdeacon. Father Giovanni LaRosa, who is in the process to be received as a priest in the Church of England, serves as their chaplain. He is assisted by Roberto Grifaci, who completed his degree in theology in July, and looks forward to entering the process to priesthood.

At the Archdeaconry Synod in September Bishop David met Father Russ, who has been closely involved in this story, with Father Giovanni and Roberto. As a result of that meeting Bishop David authorized the reception of the Randazzo congregation as a church of the Diocese, and asked Father Russ, with direction from Vickie Sims, to arrange a date to go to Randazzo to carry out the decision.

At the service on 6 November Father Ruffino received 39 local Italians into the Church of England, and as authorized by Bishop David, received the congregation as a church of the Diocese, to be known as the Church of Saint Albert of Trapani.

The rite of reception, taken from the Book of Common Worship, was translated into Italian. In the meantime Father Giovanni had prepared the electoral roll and saw to the election of wardens and officers of the church. Guests present at the service included members of Holy Cross, and Father Derek Akker, the current Locum and several members from St. George’s, Taormina, and officers of the Sicilian Chapter of the Knights Templar.

A local television channel filmed the entire service; it also offered to Padre Giovanni and Mr. Grifaci an hour’s time every two weeks for reflections on the Gospels and discussions of the Anglican Tradition. The conclusion of the service was marked by a spectacular fireworks display.

This is the first Italian-speaking church in the Archdeaconry. It develops the understanding that our chaplaincies are not “islands of Anglophones”, but we are the Anglican way of serving as the Church Universal in Italy with our doors open to all.

Information from Fr Russel Ruffino, Holy Cross Church, Palermo, Sicily

Pictured in the group are; Rev. Derek Akker, chaplain for the month of November in Taormina, Father Russell Ruffino, from Holy Cross, Palermo signing the certificate, Padre Giovanni, Roberto who recently completed his degree in theology, and the two Church Wardens of Randazzo.