From The Rector: Carlson Gerdau, Priest, 1933-2017
The Reverend Canon Carlson Gerdau died on Saturday, May 27. His funeral was held on Wednesday, May 31, at Saint Luke's Lutheran Church, 308 West Forty-sixth Street, the congregation in which Carl was baptized. It is worth noting that, in 2001, after thirty years of theological dialogue, the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America entered into "full communion." The generous hospitality of Saint Luke's senior pastor, the Reverend Dr. Paul Schmiege, made it possible for Carl to be buried by the Episcopal Church at Saint Luke's.
Carl was well-known in the wider Episcopal Church through his service as a deputy to General Convention. After service in the diocese of Northern Michigan and the diocese of Missouri, in 1987 he became canon to the then-new bishop of Chicago, the Right Reverend Frank T. Griswold. After Bishop Griswold's election as presiding bishop in 1997, the bishop asked Carl to serve as his canon. Carl agreed to do so, and he served as Bishop Griswold's canon for nine years. He then stayed on for a year in the same role at the request of Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori after she was elected presiding bishop in 2006.
Carl wanted the clergy of Saint Mary's to lead his funeral service, and we were honored to do so. I was celebrant. Bishop Griswold preached the sermon. Father Jay Smith assisted, as did the Reverend Kathleen Liles, rector of Christ and Saint Stephen's Church on the Upper West Side, where Carl attended most Sundays. Dr. David Hurd, organist and music director, played the service, and a quartet from the parish choir sang. A team of Saint Mary's servers and ushers made it all possible. The funeral was attended by members of Carl's family, including his four nieces; a large number of Carl's friends and colleagues, including members of the staff, past and present, of the Episcopal Church Center; a number of the members of the Oratory of the Good Shepherd, an order to which Carl had belonged since 1964; and friends and colleagues from New York and from around the country, including the former governor of New Jersey, the Honorable Thomas Kean. There were a number of bishops in attendance. In addition to Bishop Griswold, four other bishops sat in choir and assisted during the liturgy: the Most Reverend Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop and Primate, who carried his primatial cross; the Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, XXVI Presiding Bishop; the Right Reverend Andrew M. L. Dietsche, Bishop of New York; and the Right Reverend Mary D. Glasspool, New York's assistant bishop. The reflection I wrote for the service bulletin follows below.
Let me begin by remarking on the grace that has brought a priest of the Episcopal Church to his first church home for burial. Some years ago, Carl expressed to me his desire to be buried from the church in which he was baptized. He wanted the clergy of the first Episcopal parish to which he belonged-the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin, Times Square-to lead the service and for the Most Reverend Frank T. Griswold to preach the homily. I want to thank the Reverend Dr. Paul Schmiege, senior pastor of Saint Luke's Lutheran Church, for his, and his congregation's, very gracious hospitality to our Episcopal community today.
Carlson Gerdau was born on February 22, 1933, in New York City, the son of Kathryn Schaefer Gerdau and Carl Gerdau. He was baptized here at Saint Luke's, which, Carlson (hereafter "Carl") wrote in a biographical note, "was my mother's family church since it was founded as a German immigrant congregation before the Civil War on the Lower East Side." Carl died on Saturday, May 27, 2017. He was eighty-four years old.
In 2013, Carl wrote a brief autobiography. His words do more than outline his background, education, and commitment to the Episcopal Church. I can hear him speaking as I read his words. He was straightforward and direct. His personality and his experience, not to mention his intellectual curiosity, were always gifts to those who wanted to walk, as it were, with him. Quite honestly, until I read the obituary written this week by Carl's nieces, I didn't know that he had spent so many summers as a camp counselor or that, early on, while still in secondary school, he had become a member of that camp's board of trustees and its treasurer. It delighted me to imagine Carl actually running a summer camp, but it was not a surprise. There was nothing ordinary about his life and the range of his gifts. There was certainly northing ordinary about his commitment to the Good News of Jesus Christ as he found, and proclaimed, it in the Protestant Episcopal Church.
His journey to the Episcopal Church, he wrote, was shaped by the faith and the integrity of the clergy he knew at Saint Mark's School, Southborough, MA. In his third year at the school (that is, the "third form," or "ninth grade"), he was confirmed by the bishop of Massachusetts. Two years later, his membership was transferred to the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin, Times Square. He was attracted to Saint Mary's because of the sacraments, not the ceremony, of the Anglo-Catholic tradition. He came to Saint Mary's first for sacramental confession, and he was a regular penitent for the rest of his life.
Five years later, his association with a large number of the clergy of the diocese of Massachusetts led him to sense a call to the ordained ministry. He wrote, "They're a good group; I'd like to be one of them." Many who would encounter him as a priest in the years to come probably would not guess that the only congregations of which he had been a member were Saint Mary's and, when he decided to seek ordination through the diocese of Massachusetts, the Church of the Advent, Boston. In addition, the rule of life and the fellowship of the Oratory of the Good Shepherd shaped his life after he was accepted for membership in 1964.
I met Carl in November 1998 at Trinity Church, Michigan City, Indiana. The diocese of Northern Indiana, originally the diocese of Michigan City, was celebrating its centennial at Trinity. Carl and Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold were there. A few weeks later I would be called to Saint Mary's. As rector there, I have had the privilege of Carl looking to me and my colleagues for pastoral care and the privilege of turning to him for counsel and advice. He was of my parents' generation. He always had something useful to say.
Carl's background and work helped give him an ability to see possibilities for mission in people he encountered, often more than they themselves could see. He was wise about many things. He was generous to many individuals, as well as to institutions that mattered. He was very proud of his immigrant forebears. I think he had a large share of the spirit that still leads people to seek a new life in new places.
In retirement Carl often took services around the diocese of New York. In recent years, most Sundays would find him at Christ and Saint Stephen's Church. He was at Saint Mary's for Solemn Mass on many of the greater festivals of the church year. On Saturdays, he came to the noonday services at Saint Mary's. That's where I spoke with him for the last time when I had those services on Saturday, May 13. He wasn't doing well physically, but he still had a smile on his face. He had an appointment with one of his physicians on Monday. I did not know that he would be called home only two weeks later.
I'm sure I'm not the only person who often received Carl's unasked-for advice-I write this with a big smile on my face and with much fondness in my heart. I have always felt that Carl always, and only, wanted to help me, my parish, and our Church. He was very fond and proud of all his nieces-and of his family. He loved and was close to his sister. He was a person of genuine hope and faith. He rests in peace. He loved the schools that had nurtured him. He cared for institutions that seemed to him to be part of the future. We are blessed to have known him. I will always be able to hear the sound of his voice, "Stephen, this is Carl." --Stephen Gerth
OUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR
Karen, Adam, Caryn, Cookie, Irene, Brian, Jim, Ivy, Ralph, Vera, Rocco, Krystal, Nawaz, Gypsy, Cathy, John, William, Rita, Grady, Clint, Robert, Rick, Primi, Jerry, May, Marahl, Heidi, Takeem, Barbara, Jean, Robert, Dennis, George; Sidney and Horace, deacons; Horace, Ross, Mitties, Gaylord, Harry, Louis, and Edgar, priests; all victims of war, persecution, poverty, famine, violence, and disaster; the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark; and for the repose of the souls of Ricky Best, Taliesin Namkai-Meche, Nawaz Singh, William Warfel, and Carl Gerdau, priest . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . June 4: 1915 Ethel Grant; 1947 M. Budreau; 1961 Harold J. Rocks.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Nawaz Saeed, known to his family and friends as Charlie, died on Thursday, June 1, after a long illness. He was the stepfather of the late Sharon Singh, who was a parishioner and loyal acolyte here at Saint Mary's, and of Natasha Singh, Sharon's sister, whose photographic work is well known to Saint Marians. Nawaz was the husband of Chandra Saeed, Sharon and Natasha's mother, and the father of Zahra Saeed, Sharon and Natasha's half-sister. Please keep Nawaz, his wife Chandra, his daughters, and his family and friends in your prayers.
THE FRIDAYS OF THE EASTER SEASON are not observed by acts of discipline and self-denial. The Day of Pentecost is the final day of the Easter Season. The paschal candle, which has burned during Eastertide whenever the church is open, will be extinguished after Evensong on Sunday evening.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . Sunday, June 4, The Day of Pentecost, Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Mass 9:00 and 10:00 AM, Solemn Mass 11:00 AM, Solemn Evensong and Benediction 5:00 PM. (The final service of Evensong until October will take place next week, Sunday, June 11, Trinity Sunday.) . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will resume on June 7 . . . Friday, June 9, 6:30 PM-8:00 PM, Centering Prayer Group, Atrium, Parish House, Second Floor.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Saint Mary's at the New York Philharmonic: The annual field trip to hear the Philharmonic play in Central Park will take place on Wednesday, June 14. The concert begins at 8:00 PM. The program includes music by Dvořák, Bernstein, and Gershwin. The field trip is being coordinated by Grace Mudd. She will arrive in the Park by 5:00 PM to save space. She will sit in front of the west-side speaker, just behind the VIP fence. Please contact Grace if you would like to attend . . . Altar Guild: We would like to recruit a couple more volunteers to help with the laundering and ironing of the small altar linens. For this job, access to a washer and dryer, and a certain ability to be meticulous are prerequisites. If you think you might have what it takes to serve in this way, please speak to Father Gerth or Sister Laura Katherine. For information about technical aspects of this work, please speak to MaryJane Boland or Marie Rosseels . . . David Hurd will be away from the parish on Sunday evening, June 4. The service of Evensong will be played by Timothy Pyper . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 185.
SAINT MARY'S CENTERING PRAYER GROUP
. . . A new Centering Prayer Group will begin to meet at Saint Mary's on Friday, June 9, from 6:30-8:00 PM, following Evening Prayer, in the Atrium on the second floor of the Parish House. (Entrance is via Saint Joseph's Hall or 145 West Forty-sixth Street.) Centering Prayer, "prayer without words," is a contemplative-prayer method that is intended to develop one's relationship with God. No experience is required to begin; if interested, individual instructioncan be provided-simply contact one of the Group's coordinators. An introductory workshop will be held in the fall. If you do have questions or would like more information contact co-coordinators Ingrid Slettenor Blair Burroughs.
WE ARE GRATEFUL . . . The rector offers his reflections on the life and ministry of the late Reverend Canon Carlson Gerdau in his article above. Father Gerth and I would like to express our gratitude to the members of the parish, the staff, and the choir, who worked so hard and so well this week in order to prepare for Canon Gerdau's funeral. Our music director, David Hurd, and our four choristers, Clark Baxtresser, Sharon Harms, Chris Howatt, and ElaineLachaica, played and sang beautifully, and they did so although we were not able to give them much advance notice or time to rehearse. We were also able to recruit several Saint Marians to come to Saint Luke's in order to serve as ushers: John Delves, Randy Morgan, Mary Robison, Peter Ruane, and José Vidal. This team managed to be both welcoming and efficient in unusual circumstances, in a building with which they were not familiar. Finally, we managed to put together a group of acolytes, again on very short notice, to serve at the funeral. Julie Gillis, Brendon Hunter, Rick Miranda, Clark Mitchell, and Marie Rosseels all volunteered to serve. They arrived early at Saint Mary's and organized and packed the many things needed for the funeral liturgy. Then the acolytes quickly rehearsed with the rector in the new space. Finally, the acolytes served during the liturgy with quiet and reverent dignity. All their training paid off! I could not have been more proud of the service offered by all of our Saint Marians on Thursday under somewhat unusual circumstances. The rector and I are very grateful to one and all. --J.R.S.
ABOUT THE MUSIC . . . The musical setting of the Mass and the motet on Sunday morning are by Tomás Luís de Victoria (1548-1611). Victoria is considered the most important Spanish composer of Renaissance polyphony. Born in Avila, the seventh of eleven children, he began his musical education as a choirboy at Avila Cathedral and began his classical education at San Gil, a Jesuit school for boys founded in 1554. By 1565 Victoria had entered the Jesuit Collegio Germanico in Rome, where he was later engaged to teach music and was eventually named maestro di cappella. Victoria knew and may have been instructed by Palestrina (1525-1594) who was maestro di cappella of the nearby Seminario Romanoat that time. During his years in Rome, Victoria held several positions as singer, organist, and choral master, and published many of his compositions. He was ordained priest in 1575 after a three-day diaconate. Victoria's five-voice motet Dum complerentur, sung during the administration of Communion on Sunday morning, was first published in his first book of motets in 1572. Its text derives from the Pentecost narrative in the second chapter of Acts and occurs as an antiphon for Pentecost Vespers. The Mass setting bears the same title and is a parody of the motet. It is set for a rich texture of six voices, expanding to seven voices for the final Agnus Dei. The organ prelude is a fantasia on the chorale "Come, Holy Ghost, Lord God" from Johann Sebastian Bach's Leipzig Great Eighteen Chorales. The chorale melody is heard in long tones in the bass voice, played on the organ pedals, while a dense three-voice fantasia is woven above it and played by the hands. --David Hurd
HOMELESS MINISTRY: DONATIONS NEEDED . . .The regularly scheduled Friday afternoon drop-in day will not take place on June 2. However, volunteers will gather in the basement for a work day and to discuss plans for the summer months . . . Our new clothes closet for the homeless and others in need has been quite successful, so successful in fact that we hope to receive donations of new or lightly used clothing items for distribution. Warm-weather items are particularly needed at the moment, but we are happy to receive winter clothing as well. We also welcome donations of the following items: toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, hand wipes, wash cloths, blankets, socks, and unopened packets of underwear for both men and women. Thank you so much to all those, both near and far, who have been supporting this ministry. --Sister Monica Clare
GRATITUDE FOR A DONATION . . . On Thursday morning, June 1, a woman approached sexton Harka Gurung, who was working in the church. She told him that she and her husband would like to make a donation. As is our custom, Harka thanked the woman and pointed the way to one of the shrine boxes. She hesitated for a moment and said, "Well, it's a check, and I'd like to make sure that someone here gets it." So Harka directed the woman to the parish office. Our office manager, Chris Howatt, answered the buzzer, opened the door, and spoke to the woman. She told him that she and her husband were from Orange, NJ, and were visiting New York for the day and had walked into the church-those open doors again-in order to say a prayer. They were happy that the building was open, appreciated the invitation on the door, "Enter, Rest, Pray," enjoyed the beauty of the interior, and were moved that a number of our homeless guests were resting in the church. She and her husband decided then and there to make a donation of $1,500.00 to our Homeless Ministry. It was a moment of grace, and we are very grateful --J.R.S.
AIDS WALK 2017 . . . On Sunday, May 21, 2017, the Saint Mary's AIDS Walk Team, supported by their friends and fellow parishioners, joined the 32nd Annual AIDS Walk in Central Park-a little bit late. The Team got to the Park at around 1:30 PM, after Solemn Mass and a quick lunch. Once again the Team has done a remarkable job of fundraising. As of Thursday morning, June 1, the Team has raised $50,092.50, which puts themsixth among all the teams that walked on Sunday. If you would like to donate by writing a check, please make the check paid to the order of AIDS Walk New York. Then, please give the check to the curate or to one of the team leaders, or mail the check to the parish office. Donations may be received here at the parish until Monday, June 12. If you have any questions, please contact Father Jay Smith or 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: July 9 and 23, August 6 (Transfiguration), August 20 and 27, and all the Sundays in September. 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 has begun its summer recess. Classes will resume in the autumn. We are grateful to all those who taught, attended, and contributed to our classes this year . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet on June 7, at 6:30 PM. . .Coming Up . . . 2017 marks the five-hundredth anniversary of the publication of Martin Luther's Ninety-five Theses and the beginnings of the Protestant Reformation. We will be looking at the Reformation--its history, its theology, and its social and cultural effects-in a number of ways during the coming season. In October, Grace Mudd will teach a series on the Reformation, using music as a way to understand the theological concerns of the Reformers and of those who came to see themselves as Reformed or Evangelical Christians. Later in the autumn,Mark Risinger will follow up on Grace's series with two classes on J. S. Bach'sPassion of Saint Matthew and his Passion of Saint John. Please stay tuned!
LOOKING AHEAD . . . Sunday, June 11, Trinity Sunday . . . Monday, June 12, Saint Barnabas the Apostle, Mass 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . Sunday, June 18, Corpus Christi . . . Friday, June 23, Eve of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, Sung Mass 6:00 PM . . . Thursday, June 29, Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Mass 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . Tuesday, July 4, Independence Day, Federal Holiday Schedule.
AT THE GALLERIES . . . At the Rubin Museum, 150 West Seventeenth Street, between Sixth and Seventh Avenues, until September 4, Henri Cartier-Bresson: India in Full Frame. From the museum website, "Disputed borders, refugees, charismatic leaders, assassinations-the India of the mid-century does not sound so distant from the world today. It was a time and place captured expertly and in great depth by the pioneering photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004). In 1947 Cartier-Bresson co-founded the internationally renowned cooperative photographic agency Magnum Photos. Later that same year he undertook his first trip to India as part of a three-year stay in Asia. At the time, India was undergoing a massive political transition, having gained independence from British colonial rule and been partitioned from Pakistan. In January 1948 Cartier-Bresson traveled to Delhi to meet with one of the key players in that transition, India's great leader Mahatma Gandhi. It would be one of Gandhi's final meetings before the leader's assassination at the hands of a Hindu nationalist on January 30. The resulting photos of Gandhi's last day of life and the events surrounding his funeral, which helped catapult Cartier-Bresson to international fame, are part of a selection of 69 photographs from the photographer's travels to India shared in the exhibition . . . Together [these photographs] illustrate a master photographer's perspective on transformative moments in Indian history."