The Angelus

Volume 13, Number 40


Sofia Cavalletti died on Tuesday, August 23, 2011.  She had celebrated the ninety-fourth anniversary of her birth on Sunday, August 21.  Along with her collaborator, the late Gianna Gobbi, she founded the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.  Her life and work will continue to shape the lives of Christian children and adults for many generations to come.

The seeds of her life’s work were sown by her family background and her education.  The defining moment for her life happened the day she sat down to help prepare two children for Holy Communion.  She started to read to them the beginning of John’s gospel.  They were transfixed by hearing the Word of God.

Along with friends from Indiana, I had the privilege of visiting Sofia Cavalletti once.  We met her in her home in Rome in 1997.  She was born in the apartment where she lived, in the neighborhood “Ponte.”  In her apartment she made a home also for the children and this work.  Looking back, one can only hope we were able to express to her our thankfulness for her generosity to us.  There is a picture of Sofia showing me the sheepfold in her atrium that I treasure.

Before heading off to dinner with us, she gave us all a glass of “Punt e Mes” (“point and a half”) – which she described to us as an aperitif for 1:30 PM – to be enjoyed before afternoon dinner.  At dinner, the conversation ranged widely.  One of our number charmed her with a remark about how beautifully dressed Italian women like her were.  At some point, probably during the pasta course, I asked about using a spoon and a fork to eat spaghetti.  The response was some form of “never.”  But later in the evening she returned to the subject and said, “But I do know some very nice people from Naples who eat pasta that way.”

One of my friends and I returned on another day to observe young children working in the atrium.  Sofia, then eighty years-old, was off to give a lecture.  In addition, to her work with children, she remained a Hebrew scholar.  Her academic background with Scripture, as much as anything else, shaped her work with children.

The encounter with the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and with children and people involved in it has been formative for my own journey in life.  It was with the catechesis that I began to experience in a new way an answer to the question, “What is the kingdom of heaven like?”  Since the encounter with the catechesis, Jesus’ words about entering the kingdom of heaven like a child never leave me.

The seminal work about the catechesis is The Religious Potential of the Child (Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications, 1992).  Sofia wrote in Italian.  She spoke beautiful English, but her works were translated by others.  I know of no other approach for working with children in church with the integrity and respect for the child that this work has.  I am deeply thankful that the catechesis has found a home at Saint Mary’s.  I am deeply thankful for Sofia’s life, for someone who was looking for the kingdom of heaven and showed others the Way.  Stephen Gerth


YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Ramona, Larry, Natasha, Julia, Caleb, Dianne, Dorothy, Gert, and Rick; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark, Christine, and Rob; and for the repose of the souls of Sofia and Narayanasamy . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . August 28:. 1905 Frank Temple Reamer; 1914 John Walter Murrell; 1922 Felix Ansart.


THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.


THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Father Gerth will be away from the parish on vacation from Monday, August 29, until Wednesday, September 7.  He returns to the office on Thursday, September 8 . . . Father Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, August 27.  Father Smith will hear confessions on Saturday, September 3.


AROUND THE PARISH . . . Barbara Klett has asked us to express her gratitude to all the members of the Saint Mary’s community who have been so supportive in the days following the death of her husband, Jack.  She very much appreciated hearing from all those who called, wrote, and attended Jack’s wake and funeral Mass.  Please continue to keep Jack and Barbara in your prayers . . . Parishioner Terry Carlson has moved back to the Midwest, but he has continued to share his wisdom and provide advice concerning lighting throughout the building complex.  He recently helped solve a tricky lighting problem in the Mercy Chapel.  We are very grateful . . . Thank you to Marie Rosseels, who is remarkably skilled with needle and thread, for helping sister sacristan with a number of delicate sewing projects in recent weeks; thank you to Rita Johnson, who so faithfully continues, week after week, to launder and iron the small altar linens – not an easy task here at Saint Mary’s . . . Altar flowers are needed for September 4 and 25, and October 16 and 23.  If you would like to make a donation, please contact Aaron Koch in the finance office . . . The members of the Stewardship have already begun to plan for the launch of this year’s Stewardship Campaign.  This has reminded us of the following: our Treasurer, Randy Morgan, tells us that income from pledge donations has been down over the summer months.  If you would like to take this opportunity to bring your pledge up to date, we would be most grateful! . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 199.


RECITAL SPONSORS NEEDED . . . James Kennerley arrived at Saint Mary’s with the great recession.  He has done a marvelous job of keeping the musical standards high and keeping the expenses within budget.  I want his track record to continue to be great.  Looking ahead at the new music season, $2,000.00 would help us cover our honoraria for our visiting recitalists.  If you would like to help, please make your check payable to Saint Mary’s and mark it for “recitalists.”  Thank you very much.  S.G.


FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The prelude at the Solemn Mass on Sunday is the chorale improvisation on O Gott, du frommer Gott, Op. 65/50 by Sigfrid Karg-Elert (1877–1933).  This Sunday I will be the cantor for the Mass.  At the ministration of communion, the plainsong hymn Salve regina will be sung.  The text of the hymn was probably composed in the Middle Ages by the German monk Hermann of Reichenau (1013–1054), who may also have been the composer of the plainsong melody.  James Kennerley


OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . . We have recently received a number of donations to the Food Pantry in response to our appeal, donations totaling $650.00.  Thank you to all for your great generosity and for your ongoing support of the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry.  We continue to need your help!  Donations from all sources have decreased significantly.  Cash donations continue to be needed.  (Write a check to the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin and put “Food Pantry” in the memo line).  Non-perishable food items can be brought to the church and placed in the basket at the ushers’ table on Sunday mornings.  J.R.S.


OKTOBERFEST & HYMN SING 2011 . . . On Saturday, October 15, at 6:00 PM, following the evening Mass, Saint Marians will gather once again to mark the arrival of autumn with food, drink, and song.  (Beer, the traditional Oktoberfest beverage will be provided, along with a number of non-alcoholic alternatives.)  Please join us in Saint Joseph’s Hall and the choir loft for what is always an enjoyable evening.  All are welcome.  This is a great opportunity to learn more about the parish, so think about inviting a friend.  Dinner is potluck, so please bring something to eat; and speak to Grace Bruni or Father Jay Smith if you have questions.


MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . Monday, September 5, Labor Day, Federal Holiday Schedule: the church opens at 10:00 AM and closes at 2:00 PM, only the noon services are offered, and the parish offices are closed . . . Thursday, September 8, Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mass at 12:10 PM and Sung Mass at 6:00 PM . . . Wednesday, September 14, Holy Cross Day, Sung Mass at 12:10 PM and 6:00 PM . . . Wednesday, September 21, Saint Matthew, Apostle & Evangelist, Mass at 12:10 PM, Evening Prayer at 6:00 PM and Mass at 6:20 PM . . . Thursday, September 29, Saint Michael and All Angels, Mass at 12:10 PM and Sung Mass at 6:00 PM.


“VERTICAL TOUR” OF THE CATHEDRAL . . . On Sunday, October 16, at 1:15 PM, Dr. Dennis Raverty will continue his discussion of the “principles of Gothic architecture,” by leading a tour of the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, 112th Street and Amsterdam Avenue.  The tour group will be allowed to visit one of the cathedral towers, giving the tour its “vertical” aspect.  Leading the tour with Dennis will be the Reverend Kathleen Liles, rector of the Church of Christ and Saint Stephen, who will be bringing a group from her parish on the Upper West Side.  Mother Liles is also an art historian and has often taught adult-education classes on Christian art and iconography.  The cost of the tour is $15.00 per person and some scholarship funds are available.  Please reserve a place on the tour by sending an e-mail to Father Jay Smith.  Six out of the ten places set aside for Saint Marians have now been reserved, so please make your reservation soon!


The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class resumes on October 5, at 6:30 PM, in the Arch Room on the second floor of the Mission House.  This semester the class will be reading The Letter to the Ephesians.  Led by Father Jay Smith, the class will meet on October 5, 12, 19, 26; November 9, 16, 30; and December 14 and 21.  The letter is relatively short, so we will have the opportunity to read closely and to discuss this powerful and beautiful text with its rich discussion of the Christian life.  Some passages in the letter are controversial, so discussion should be lively.  No prior experience is necessary.  All are welcome.