FROM THE RECTOR: NEIGHBORHOOD AND MISSION
Earlier this week a small group of us heard the Reverend Caroline Stacey, rector, Church of Saint Luke in the Fields, speak about the work their vestry and congregation have been doing to envision their ministry in their church home in future years. The West Village has long since ceased to be a neighborhood for dockworkers and people working in shipping, but their school, for example, was designed and built to serve that population. Of course, it now serves children of a very different background.
Given Saint Luke's location, with the help of some very fine consultants, their leadership has been exploring what shape the interior of their yet-to-be-designed community center might best be to serve unmet needs of the community and the church. As the presentation unfolded, it seemed to me that I was hearing something very helpful for us. Here are some things I've observed about our neighborhood and our congregations-Sundays, weekdays, feast days, metropolitan and national-that have changed since I moved to Saint Mary's in January 1999.
It's not unimportant that, for many reasons which need not detain us here, the Episcopal Church's membership is a third smaller than it was when I was ordained in 1983-and our church continues to decline in size and influence. It is now almost impossible for a bishop of New York to have a letter to the editor published in the New York Times. Our cathedral and too many of our parish churches fill up only at Christmas and Easter. One notes that our church's General Convention has not responded by reducing its size.
In the first years I was at Saint Mary's, I would see in Hell's Kitchen a lot of young couples with a first baby. It's a different neighborhood now-and historically it was not Saint Mary's original neighborhood. That was a residential neighborhood called Longacre Square, known as Times Square since 1908. And in those first years, there were more Episcopalians commuting to work in midtown. Many who worked near us would drop in on weekdays and especially on feast days. Episcopal churches that organize their lives by the calendar of the church are now few and far between. So, the idea of going to church on Sundays and on major weekday feasts no longer registers.
After the recession started, the large number of what are often called "middle management" jobs disappeared from our neighborhood, and we saw a drop in weekday and feast day attendance. From time to time, we will still see people we used to see regularly. They are mostly retired now or working elsewhere. Their midtown jobs never came back.
More people come to our buildings across a year for various support group meetings than attend regularly scheduled services. In terms of numbers, our welcome is an important way in which we are of help to so many. And as I've written many times, you and I will never know how much our open doors have helped people as a place of prayer when they are in very great need. Almost everyone who enters this church is respectful of this extraordinary sacred space.
Our congregation fielded what turned out to be the ninth highest walking fundraising team in the city for the 2016 AIDS Walk-read on about how you can contribute. We have an evolving ministry to our city's growing homeless population. The continuing inability of government to meet the needs of the homeless and especially homeless persons with significant mental disabilities are a challenge for us. We're learning more about how to be genuinely helpful-the new clothing ministry has already proved itself of great value.
Right now, we are engaged in a major effort to conserve the fabric of our wonderful church buildings and, through better accessibility, to make them more useful to more people through our Open Doors Capital Campaign. But that's not the only thing I am thinking about. It made an enormous difference last summer when Linda Bridges became very ill that I had asked for and gotten contact information for her. Quite honestly, should a regular member of the congregation have a medical emergency, we can call an ambulance. But your clergy want to know whom to call and the name of your doctor in case you aren't able to tell the emergency team or us. It's a project for this summer-a major one.
I invite you to continue to work, pray, and give for Saint Mary's witness and welcome. We really are an Episcopal Church that welcomes all who are seeking a place to work on their relationship with God and with others. -Stephen Gerth
OUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Ralph, John, Rita, Grady, Clint, Michael, Charlie, Robert, Rick, Patricia, Primi, Jerry, May, Marahl, Heidi, Takeem, Barbara, Jean, Dennis, George; Sidney and Rebecca, deacons; Horace, Ross, Mitties, Gaylord, Harry, Louis, and Edgar, priests; all victims of war, persecution, poverty, famine, and disaster; the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark; and the repose of the soul of Jack Weiner . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . May 14: 1886 John Cooper Lane; 1900 Clara Tuner; 1916 MaryAnne Grab.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Jack B. Weiner, the father of Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins, died on Monday, May 8, after a long illness. As a young man, Jack was a union organizer in Cleveland and New York City. He later became a successful writer. Please keep Jack, his wife Sandy, Rebecca, and their family and friends, in your prayers. Rebecca tells us that she is grateful for the parish community's support and plans to teach the Adult Forum this coming Sunday, May 14, and to be with us at the Solemn Mass.
THE FRIDAYS OF THE EASTER SEASON are not observed by acts of discipline and self-denial.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . May 14, 2017, The Fifth Sunday of Easter, Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Mass 9:00 AM & 10:00 AM, Adult Education 10:00 AM, Solemn Mass 11:00 AM, Solemn Evensong and Benediction 5:00 PM . . . Sunday, May 14 is Mothers' Day . . . Wednesday, May 17, 2017, Sung Mass 12:10 PM. The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will not meet on May 17, 24, or 31. The class resumes on June 7 . . .Thursday, May 18, Thursday in the Fifth Week of Easter, Mass with Healing Service 12:10 PM.
MOTHER MITTIES DECHAMPLAIN . . . On the afternoon of Sunday, May 7, we learned that Mother Mitties DeChamplain, an assisting priest here at Saint Mary's, had not arrived at Trinity Church, Morrisania, Bronx, New York, where she has been celebrating Mass and preaching on most Sundays in recent months. A priest who lives nearby was asked to go to her home. She was found unconscious and taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital. On Tuesday May 9, the priests of the diocese received the following e-mail from the Reverend Canon K. Jeanne Person, canon for pastoral care of the Diocese of New York, "On behalf of Bishop Dietsche, I write to express his gratitude for the prayers, deep concern, and abiding love many of you have expressed for the Rev. Mitties DeChamplain as she lays in great weakness, and also to give you a brief update. In hospital, Mitties has come through various procedures and tests, and these continue. She remains under critical care, but is stable. Her family is now well-connected with the medical team and involved in medical decisions, and close friends have arranged for the care of Mitties' beloved cats. She has been receiving spiritual care, too, from priests and pastors close to her and from the hospital's chaplaincy staff. To guard her medical privacy, and to create the quietness and spaciousness needed for the best medical care for her, we respectfully will not disclose further details about her location or medical condition. However, we are starting to arrange visits for her, and we believe these will be best in shifts . . . Our hope and desire is to offer Mitties the grace of our loving presence, but not to create too much demand on her and the hospital by unscheduled visits and calls." This is very distressing news for all of us who know Mother Mitties. We feel great affection for her and are grateful for her ministry here at the parish. We continue to pray for her at every Mass and we ask you to keep her in your prayers as well.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Candle Sale: Sister Laura Katharine tells us that her sale has been doing well. She is going to take a couple of weeks off, but the Sale will return before the beginning of the summer. Expect discounts! We will keep you posted . . . the photo of Mary's flower crown is by Marie Rosseels; all other photos are by Sister Monica Clare . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 195.
STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN . . . Our pledge campaign continues, since we have not yet reached our goal for 2017. Thus far we have received $389,326.00 in pledges, 92% of our goal of $425,000.00. We hope to reach that goal by June 1, 2017. Please help us to reach that goal. We need your help. To make a pledge for 2017, please fill out a pledge card and mail it to 145 West Forty-sixth Street, New York, NY 10036; place your pledge card in the collection basket at Mass; or make a pledge online. We are grateful to all those who continue to support the parish so generously.
AIDS WALK 2017 . . . On May 21, 2017, the Saint Mary's AIDS Walk Team, supported by their friends and fellow parishioners, will join the 32nd Annual AIDS Walk here in New York. We invite you to join the Team or to make a contribution to the Team. Last year, the Saint Mary's AIDS Walk Team, fourteen people strong, ranked Number 9 in fundraising among all teams walking. We raised $55,035 from almost 300 generous contributions. Our goal this year is a very ambitious $60,000 as we walk in solidarity with people living with HIV or AIDS and with those who support and care for them. We invite you to join our Team and raise money with us or simply to make a donation to our very determined Saint Mary's AIDS Walk Team. You can join or contribute by clicking here. You can also direct your questions to Father Jay Smith or to Team co-leaders MaryJane Boland and Clark Mitchell.
DONATIONS FOR ALTAR FLOWERS . . . We hope to receive donations for altar flowers for the following Sundays and holy days: May 21, June 4 (Pentecost), June 11 (Trinity Sunday), June 25, June 29 (Saint Peter and Saint Paul), and all the Sundays in July. If you would like to make a donation, please contact the parish office at 212-869-5839 or by e-mail. We are grateful to all those who support the ministry of the Flower Guild so faithfully.
ADULT EDUCATION . . . The Adult Forum on Sunday, April 30, was cancelled due to illness. We apologize for any inconvenience. However, a make-up class has been scheduled. On Sunday, May 14, at 10:00 AM, Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins will conclude her series on the theme "Rising/Rose/Risen: Readings on Resurrection from Scripture into Poetry." Deacon Rebecca writes, "Beginning with biblical texts we will follow our theme into poems by various writers, as diverse as Edgar Allan Poe, Sylvia Plath, John Milton, Claude McKay, Vachel Lindsay, Theodore Roethke, Wendell Berry, Emily Dickinson, D. H. Lawrence, Christina Rossetti, and more." This class will conclude our adult-education program for this academic year. Classes will resume in the autumn . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will not meet on Wednesday, May 17, when Father Smith is out of town. The class will not meet on May 24, the Eve of Ascension Day, nor on May 31, the Feast of the Visitation. Evening services will replace the class on those days. Class resumes on Wednesday, June 7.
VISUAL ARTS PROJECT . . . Exhibition in the Gallery in Saint Joseph's Hall, Carlos Arteaga: Paintings and Drawings, May 6-June 4, 2017. In order to make an appointment to view the exhibition Monday through Saturday, please contact curator José Vidal. For more information, please visit the artist's website.
CONCERTS AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Saturday, May 20, 2017, 8:00 PM, New York Repertory Orchestra. Moran Katz, clarinet soloist. Music by Igor Stravinsky, Gioachino Rossini, and Amy Beach. Admission is free. Donations gratefully received. For more information, visit the orchestra's website.
ABOUT THE MUSIC . . . The setting of the Mass on Sunday morning is Missa Regina coeli by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525-1594). Palestrina, like J. S. Bach (1685-1750) at a later time, is a composer regarded today more as source and inspiration for what came after him than as the product of the already established musical practices of his time. However, just as Bach received a musical tradition from certain distinguished predecessors, it may be said that Palestrina stood on foundations largely laid by the Netherlandish composers Guillaume Dufay (c. 1397-1474) and Josquin des Prez (c. 1450-1521). Palestrina is largely credited with setting the canons for Renaissance polyphony and the standard for catholic liturgical music which pertain to this day. Among his hundreds of compositions are 105 Masses, most of which were published in thirteen volumes between 1554 and 1601. Regina coeli, a medieval antiphon to the Virgin Mary, is specified for use at Compline during the Easter Season. Palestrina quotes from this antiphon's Gregorian melody in his setting of it as a motet. Likewise, melodic references to the Gregorian chant source bind together the movement of today's Mass setting. This Mass is for four voices except for the final Agnus Dei which expands to five voices by the addition of a second tenor part.
In the collect appointed for this coming Sunday, the Fifth Sunday of Easter, we pray to "so perfectly to know your son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life, that we may steadfastly follow his steps in the way that leads to eternal life," anticipating the Gospel reading (John 14) in which our Lord reveals himself to be the way, truth, and life. The beloved English priest and poet George Herbert (1593-1633) offered his reflection and prayer to Jesus as the way, truth, and life in "The Call" (The Temple, 1633). Of the many musical settings Herbert's prayer-poem has inspired, the setting from Five Mystical Songs by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)-distilled into many modern hymnals-is surely the best known. (See 487 in The Hymnal 1982). David Hurd's four-voice choral setting of The Call, sung as the motet during the administration of communion on Sunday, was commissioned in honor of the Rev. Dr. William and Mrs. Jane Greenlaw in 2008 shortly before Father Greenlaw's retirement as rector of Holy Apostles Church, Chelsea, Manhattan.
The organ prelude is the third movement of the Suite in Three Movements by David Hurd, organist and music director at Saint Mary the Virgin. The Suite was originally composed for Richard Robertson who played its premiere performance at the 1998 Organ Historical Society Convention in Denver, CO. It was significantly revised for publication in 2010. The Scherzo is an impressionistic piece designed to highlight spatial relationships between divisions of the organ.
LOOKING AHEAD . . .Wednesday, May 24, Eve of Ascension Day, Solemn Evensong 6:00 PM . . . Thursday, May 25, Ascension Day, Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Sung Mass 12:10 PM, Organ Recital 5:30 PM, Solemn Mass 6:00 PM . . . Wednesday, May 31, Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mass 12:00 PM, Sung Mass 6:00 PM . . . Sunday, June 4, Day of Pentecost . . . Sunday, June 11, Trinity Sunday . . . Sunday, June 18, Corpus Christi
AT THE GALLERIES . . . At the Onassis Cultural Center New York, Olympic Tower, 645 Fifth Avenue, New York City: A World of Emotions: Ancient Greece, 700 BC - 200 AD. On view through June 24, 2017, exclusively at the Onassis Cultural Center New York, where admission is always free, the exhibition brings together more than 130 masterpieces from some of the world's leading museums-including the Acropolis Museum, Athens; National Archaeological Museum, Athens; Musée du Louvre, Paris; British Museum, London; and Musei Vaticani, Vatican City-to explore the ideas and attitudes of people in classical antiquity toward emotion and the ways in which the emotions were depicted, revealing how some are strikingly familiar to us and some shockingly alien . . . At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fifth Avenue at Eighty-second Street, Gallery 621, Second Floor, April 11-July 9, Caravaggio's Last Two Paintings, from the museum website, "The Martyrdom of Saint Ursula, the last documented painting by the great Caravaggio (1571-1610), will be on exceptional loan from the Banca Intesa Sanpaolo in Naples and presented with another of the artist's final works, The Met's The Denial of Saint Peter, created in the last months of [the painter's] life. These two extraordinary paintings have not been shown together since 2004, in an exhibition in London and Naples devoted to the artist's late work. Caravaggio's Last Two Paintings will offer a rare opportunity to see these pictures side by side and to examine the novelty of Caravaggio's late style, in which the emphasis is less on the naturalistic depiction of the figures and more on their psychological presence.