As our church is in North West Italy we are in a protected lock-down zone, this means we come under the emergency measures ordered by the Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, on March 9th – “I stay home” . We hope you find the links in English useful and do please read our important posts by scrolling down the page.
- Ansa Italian news in English
- Church of England Coronavirus advice for churches
- UK advice – how do you feel and what should you do
- UK Government Travel advice
- Travel insurance – an insurer’s article
10 March 2020, Covid-19 update
During the past couple of days both the regional administration and
the national government have imposed a range of preventative measures to
deal with the Covid-19 crisis and in accordance with their legal
provisions, we have to announce, with great regret, the SUSPENSION OF
ALL ACTIVITIES OF THE CHURCH OF THE HOLY GHOST UNTIL 3rd APRIL.
While on the one hand it is sad that we cannot ensure the smooth conduct of those gatherings which define us as a community of Christian believers, on the other hand, it is our duty in this situation, both as believers and as part of wider Italian society, to live up to our responsibilities towards one another. In this time of trial which we all share, we can perhaps better understand these words from the second letter to Timothy: “God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power, of love and self-control “(II Timothy 1.7). It in this spirit that we are trying to deal with the present crisis, in the certainty that the Lord is with us.
As we did on 1st March, we shall shortly be publishing on the church’s FB page a “virtual Eucharist” for this coming Sunday so that you can share in a celebration at home. We hope that in this way, as well as through other broadcast or web channels which offer meditations and acts of worship, we can all continue in the good habit of pausing in silence to listen to the Word, in the awareness that we belong to a larger and more extensive community.
During these weeks of lock-down the church building will be open for prayer on Wednesdays between 12:00 and 13:00 and on Sundays between 10:30 and 11:30. Access to the food-bank and clothing-bank will also be possible between those times. The church will also be open from 09:30 until 18:00 every Thursday in Lent for personal prayer and quiet reflection. The chaplain is always available to meet one-to-one and to answer the needs of individuals and families. You can contact him by emailing email@example.com or calling 010-889268. He can also be contacted via WhatsApp.
8th March, 2020
Please note that all the information that follows is provisional, depending on further instructions from the civic, regional, or national governments. If cancellations are necessary we will try to provide as much notice as possible.
- It was good to be back in church this morning, even with the restrictions on what is possible. Sadly the Taizé service at San Marco al Molo this evening has been cancelled, as has the Bible study at the Baptist Church that was scheduled for Thursday evening.
- On Wednesday 11th March, at midday, we will continue our series of talks about the way in which each Gospel describes the death of Jesus. This week’s talk will focus on St Matthew. It will be followed as usual by the midweek Eucharist.
- On Thursday 12th March there will be the third of our drop-in quiet days during Lent. This is something for anyone who has free time at some point between 10.30 a.m. and 6.00 p.m. and would like to spend it consciously in God’s presence. It isn’t necessary to stay all day, or even an hour or two. Just drop in for a few minutes.
- A reminder that it is nearly time to revise the Church’s Electoral Roll. If you are over sixteen years of age and baptised, and if you think of the Church of the Holy Ghost as “your” church, your name ought to be on the roll. If it isn’t, please collect a form from the church, fill it in and give it to the electoral roll officer, the chaplain, or one of the wardens.
- Our experiment in producing a “virtual Eucharist” last week has become one of the top stories on the home-page of the Diocese in Europe website (https://europe.anglican.org/). It was also the subject of an article in last week’s “Church Times” (https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2020/6-march/news/uk/chaplain-of-virus-hit-area-devises-rites-for-a-crisis).
Corona-virus: the Bishops’ guidance
Regular visitors to this page will know that the Church of England publishes guidance to all clergy and congregations here:
However, Bishop Robert and Bishop David have decided to go somewhat beyond this advice in certain respects because of the mobile and international nature of the congregations in this diocese and in the light of medical advice they have received.
They point out that coronavirus appears to present a particular risk to elderly people and those with reduced immunity or a pre-existing health condition. Their advice is given out of a mutual concern for the wellbeing of all members of our chaplaincies.
The Bishops write:
“Infectious diseases seem to cause higher levels of public anxiety than other threats, perhaps because we can’t see them or sense them. And although social media can satisfy our desire for information they have the capacity to fuel anxiety. Avoiding panic is a key part of responding to coronavirus for all of us in positions of leadership.
This guidance is intended as a prudent response to an unusual challenge. It represents a set of sensible precautions to promote health and wellbeing in the conditions of our diocese.
“We will keep in touch with you as the situation develops and plan to write again in the next couple of weeks. If you have any questions do contact us or your Archdeacon or our Chief Operating Officer. We will continue to monitor the situation and guidance closely. At the same time, our Diocesan website will continue to carry the latest updates from official sources – national governments, WHO and EU – so please keep an eye on this also.
“Meanwhile, we pray that our chaplaincies and congregations can be oases of peace, loving fellowship and hope in times of anxiety. We continue to pray for those infected by the coronavirus, for those who care for them, and for health specialists and authorities who are combatting the spread of infection.
“Yours in Christ
+Robert Gibraltar in Europe +David”
We are applying the guidelines (and the provisions of the Italian government’s recent decrees) as follows:
1. All members of the congregation
Please follow good hygiene practice, including the following:
• Carry tissues and use them to catch coughs and sneezes. Then bin the tissue
• Wash hands with soap and water (for 20 seconds) or use sanitiser to kill germs.
• Use the hand gel provided as you come into church
• Use the soap or hand gel in the toilet; dry your hands on one of the paper towels and bin it immediately.
2. During the Eucharist
2.1 Taking your seat: Please sit at least a metre away from the nearest person (including those in front of and behind you).
2.2 At the peace: Please do not make physical contact (kiss, hug or handshake) with everyone in the church. For the time being, please limit this gesture to a smile and words of peace to those nearest to you. Advice will be offered on how to do this.
2.3 At the Communion: This will be shared in the form of wafer only. Both bread and wine will be consecrated but the wine will not be shared. This does not take anything away from the Eucharist. It is clearly understood in Anglican theology that the sacrament of Holy Communion is present and complete in either of the consecrated elements.
3. Sidesmen, Servers and Clergy
Priests presiding at the Eucharist, those who share in administering communion, and servers should wash their hands, preferably with an alcohol-based sanitiser. Sidespeople/welcomers and anyone serving refreshments should take similar precautions
4. After the Eucharist
There may be limitations, at least at first, on what is served as an aperitivo after the service.
5. Church cleaning
Those who help to clean the church are asked to take particular care when cleaning hard surfaces such as door handles. They are also asked to make sure that the toilet is cleaned regularly and thoroughly.
…we will continue to monitor the situation and guidance closely. At the same time, the Diocesan website (https://europe.anglican.org/) will continue to carry the latest updates from official sources – national governments, WHO and EU – so please keep an eye on this also.
Let us join in prayer that all the chaplaincies and congregations in
the Diocese in Europe can be oases of peace, loving fellowship and hope
in times of anxiety. In particular, let us continue to pray
• for those infected by the coronavirus,
• for those who care for them,
• and for health specialists and authorities who are combatting the spread of infection.
As promised, here are the main provisions of the emergency ordinance from the Regional Governor, Giovanni Toti, and a summary of good hygiene practice in time of epidemic.
First the main provisions, agreed by the Region with the Ministry of Health:
1. Starting at 00.00 on Monday 24 February 2020 and until 24.00 on 1 March 2020 the following provisions will apply throughout the region:
a. the suspension of all public events, of any kind;
b. the suspension of participation in recreational and sports activities;
c. the suspension of children’s education services and schools of all grades, as well as the attendance at school, university and high-level vocational training activities and professional education and training courses, except distance learning activities and those related to health professions including internships;
d. the suspension of all educational travel, both domestically and abroad;
e. the suspension of the opening of museums and other institutions and places of culture and libraries to the public;
f. the suspension of public competitions except those relating to health professions;
(Section 2 refers to the overriding legislation)
3. A task force has been set up with the following mandate:
• to carry out preventative and informative activities for health personnel;
• to coordinate the actions with Medicina territoriale;
• to monitor the activation of the planned measures;
• to monitor the appropriateness for public health of institutional communication about COVID-19;
• to provide for the management of suspected/ probable/ confirmed cases and for monitoring contacts;
• to monitor current response capacity, with preparation of any incremental plans.
• to regulate access for visitors to patient areas in hospitals, RSA and in all units of socio-medical services;
(Sections 4, 5 and 6 apply primarily to those who have been in China or other affected areas)
Now here’s the practical advice on good hygiene practice:
1) wash your hands frequently with hydro-alcoholic solutions;
2) avoid close contact with people suffering from respiratory infections;
3) do not touch your eyes, nose and mouth with your hands;
4) Cover your nose and mouth if you sneeze or cough;
5) do not take antivirals or antibiotics unless prescribed;
6) clean surfaces with chlorine or alcohol-based disinfectants;
7) use the mask only if you suspect that you are sick or if you are attending sick people;
8) contact emergency number 112 if you have a fever, cough or breathing difficulties and have returned from China, or other areas of reported contagion;
PLEASE NOTE: the corona-virus crisis and the emergency ordinance of the regional government have made most of the notices about events this week null and void.
All public gatherings between now and midnight on Sunday 1st March have been banned. (Please see the next post for further details and health advice.)
The church will still be open on Thursday for anyone who wishes to make some time to be quiet with God, but the Ash Wednesday Eucharist has been cancelled, as has the Eucharist next Sunday. The church will, however, be open between midday and 1.30 p.m. on Wednesday for anyone who wishes to pray privately.
The situation is being kept under review. Further information will follow as it becomes available.