From the Board of Trustees
At its meeting on Monday, February 22, 1999, the Board of Trustees passed unanimously and with many expressions of affection and respect a motion naming the Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells “Rector Emeritus”. Canon Wells is, of course, the retired rector of the parish and the eighth person to serve this parish community as rector.
Father Gerth called Canon Wells the next day and asked him to accept the title. Canon Wells was absolutely delighted. This parish community was honored by his ministry for two great decades. The title is another recognition of the thankfulness with which his service is remembered.
From the Rector: Something about Me
When I entered the ordination discernment process in the Diocese of Chicago among the questions that were asked of me many times was, “Why do you want to be a priest?” My response usually had to do with a sense that I was supposed to be standing at the altar. I didn’t really visualize myself standing there, but I simply had a strong sense that is where I was supposed to be. I didn’t have much else to say. The people who heard my response seemed to respect it.
During my tenure as rector of Trinity Church, Michigan City, Indiana, I didn’t speak very often about being an Anglo-catholic. I spoke instead about being a Christian. In most circumstances it seems to me to be more useful simply to say I am a Christian. Sometimes when someone might remark on the presence and use of the confessional or statues in the church I might smile broadly and say something like, “This is a Full-Gospel Episcopal Church.” And I really did mean it.
Many of the highpoints of my personal spiritual journey are marked by experiences that happened because I was led to be part of that tradition within the Episcopal Church that could be identified as Anglo-catholic, if one wanted to make that identification.
I can remember the day in early December when I was twenty-two and I walked a mile from the main campus at the University of Chicago to the local Episcopal parish to go to confession for the first time. It was early Advent. There was fresh snow on the ground and in the air that day. I hadn’t been a particularly rotten person up to that point in my life but I was overwhelmed by the desire to feel and to be clean. Looking back I have often been glad my first confession came near the beginning of the church year. The First Sunday of Advent has been my own new year ever since.
At that time, when I was twenty-two, I had no awareness at all of a vocation to the priesthood. Thinking back I suspect the seeds may have been there but it would be a couple of years before the thought entered my mind. It was the prompting of a priest who gave voice to something that was in my heart and had probably been there all along when he said to me, “When are you going to do something about your vocation to the priesthood?” I went home and read Evening Prayer. The Lesson that night was from the Letter to the Hebrews, the seventh chapter, which describes the perfect priesthood of Jesus Christ.
At that time I had been planning to move back to Virginia from Chicago to get an MBA at the University of Virginia, where I had done my undergraduate work. I had already been accepted for the fall. I had already found a place to live. I had already made a deposit on my place in the school. Then I decided to stay in Chicago. And doors opened that enabled me to enter seminary in the fall of 1980 when I was twenty-six.
The priest who sent me to seminary, the Reverend Craig B. Johnson, had attended Nashotah House and in 1980 there were many seminarians from the Diocese of Chicago there. I went up during Lent for a visit. Nashotah was at that time and I believe still is the only seminary where seminarians are required to be at Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer and Mass every day.
I arrived just before Evensong on a Wednesday night. Randy Haycock, who was a student from the Diocese of Chicago and still serves as a priest in that diocese, was the sacristan on duty. He was waiting for me outside the Chapel of Saint Mary the Virgin vested in cassock and surplice, which the community always wore for Evensong. There was fresh snow on the ground. Just after I entered the community stood for the Angelus and Evensong began.
By March of the school year the Nashotah community sings and prays together beautifully. I was quickly lost in the liturgy, lost, not in the sense of not knowing where I was, but feeling so much a part of it even as a prospective student. I knew it was where I belonged.
There was no fresh snow on the ground when I entered the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin in the City of New York the first time, but there were flurries here the bitterly cold day I moved in. A liturgy has not yet passed where I haven’t been lost. I think I am again in a place where I belong.
PARISH PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Catherine Rose, Thomas, Maxine, Michael, Louise, Barbara, Daisy, Shirley, Tom, Mark, Donna, Maria, Ellen, Bernadine, Gloria, Louis, Karen, Dorothy, Margaret, Ken, John, Nina, Rodney, priest, and Maurice, priest.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Genesis 12:1-8, Psalm 33:12-22, Romans 4:1-17, John 3:1-17 . . . 9:00 Celebrant The Rector, 9:00 Preacher Mr. Burnette, 10:00 Celebrant & Preacher Father Parker, 11:00 Father Shin, 5:00 Father Shin . . . On Saturday, February 27, Father Smith will hear confessions. On Saturday, March 6, Father Parker will hear confessions.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Reminder: Servers Meeting on Saturday, February 27, at 10:00 AM in Saint Benedict’s Study. If you want to know about serving please speak with Father Parker. No previous experience is necessary!. . . Tom Cote, Tom Cerulli’s son, is back in school now. That’s wonderful and amazing and we are thankful! We hope Tom and his brother, Gerald, will be serving together at the altar again very soon . . . Congratulations to Kathy Chase who has been elected diocesan lay director for Cursillo. She replaces our own Kevin Farley on June 1st . . . And speaking of Kevin, many thanks to him for serving five Masses on Ash Wednesday, including the 7:00 AM . . . The March-April 1999 issue of AVE has gone to the printers. If you are on-line you can read it at the parish web site, www.stmvirgin.com . . . A regular server (or two or more persons to alternate as regular server) is needed for the Wednesday evening Mass. If you might be interested in serving please speak with the Rector or Father Parker . . . The sign-up sheet for the Quiet Day with Fr. Leech is posted on the bulletin board in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . Steve Gilger has taken the rheostat for the church to a shop in Connecticut. We should have it back in plenty of time for the Great Vigil of Easter . . . Steve also continues to work on the sliding doors for Saint Joseph’s Hall and as we go to press one of the front doors of the church is off track and needs repair. The work on the buildings will never be over . . . Attendance last Sunday 154.
LIONHEART will present its second concert this season in the Church on Thursday, March 4, at 8:00 PM. These five talented gentlemen will perform vocal music by Festa, Palestrina and Victoria. This event is FREE to parishioners. Please place your name on the list by calling the music office before 5:00 PM on March 4th.