The "Parish Profile" that was developed begins with a page headed "Our Mission." Three short paragraphs and a picture of the rood are all that are on the page. The statement of mission is as follows:
The Church of St. Mary the Virgin, New York City, was founded in 1868 with the mission of setting forth Catholic doctrine and ritual within the Episcopal Church.
We have remained true to our founding principles and have avoided splintering on such issues as female clergy and human sexuality because we believe that just as each of us is on a journey toward achieving fulfillment of the Spirit, so also is the Church Catholic.
Eight rectors have led us on our mission thus far. We now seek as our ninth rector a priest who will articulate a vision that will increase our numbers and lead us into the new millennium in the fellowship of Jesus Christ and His Gospel, our ultimate authority.
If I read this statement correctly, the mission of this parish is still to set forth "Catholic doctrine and ritual within the Episcopal Church." Apart from my position as rector of this parish, preaching the Catholic religion is what I understand my own work as a priest of the Church to be.
In my thinking, teaching and writing it has been my practice probably for the last decade to substitute the word "Christian" for the word "Catholic" whenever possible. Perhaps it is not quite correct, but as a practical matter everything that is "Catholic" is "Christian." I've just tended to ignore things that are "Christian" but not really "Catholic," for example, Protestant spiritual life and worship.
Yesterday I found myself with three other persons in an elevator. They began to have a discussion about what my outfit meant. "Does your "collar" mean you are a priest or a minister?" . . . "You can't tell from the collar. But I am an Episcopal priest" . . . "Does that kind of collar mean you're low church?" . . . (with a very big smile) - "No, good church." The doors opened before more words were exchanged. I thought to myself that those folks had no idea who I was or where I served.
It has never been easy to be an Anglo-catholic if for no other reason than it seems to require explanations. The tradition in which we stand has a compelling claim on the affections of souls and the standards of minds who know it and try to have humility before it.
My own bias is to attempt to understand the Anglo-catholic movement as part of the work of the Spirit in leading this part of the wider Christian community along with many others to recover "the liturgical act," an understanding and a living of incarnational Christianity that was largely lost to Western Christians by the Middle Ages. Life itself is liturgy when the Spirit is present among the baptized. Life is so much more than following Christ, it is already to be, in a real sense, the Body of Christ. The recovery of the liturgical act, the radical awareness of the real presence of God among us as well as in our worship, continues among Catholic Christians to this day. At its best, when the rituals and ceremonials of Catholic worship change, it is only to make the Gospel more clear.
(Many may remember a time when Anglo-catholic priests would make the sign of the cross with the Host before giving it to a communicant. There are many reasons why this became customary but the action obscured what is indeed the great and dominical sign of God's presence, the Bread. It is the Bread itself which is the sign, ordered by Christ and given to us by Christ.)
The great purpose of the Anglo-catholic tradition is to help men and women to believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God and to sustain those who believe and those who are learning to believe in faith. When our tradition is at its best not only does one see this expressed by rich ceremonial signs, one sees love and compassion for human beings and the longings of their souls.
I was rector of Trinity Church, Michigan City, Indiana for over ten years. Sometime early in the eighth year things clicked, if you will, for me in the parish. Maybe it was me. But I sensed they relaxed with me and I relaxed with them. They trusted me and I trusted them. That kind of parish-priest relationship requires time. If I could speed it up in one or two areas I would. I want you to have confidence that I will be able to be your pastor when things are difficult. I want you to know that I value and respect you. And I want you to know that I am an Anglo-catholic. I am committed to the tradition, to our tradition, to the mission of the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin. Stephen Gerth
PARISH PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty in Kosovo and for Shirley, Mark, Maria, Ellen, Louise, Dorothy, Warren, Thomas, Robin, Shawn, George, Richard, Anthony, Karen, Margaret, Ken, John, Nel, Daisy, Michael, Maxine, Gloria, Nina, Mary Ellen, Walter, Pearl, Rodney, priest, and Maurice, priest, and for the repose of the soul of Ellen. GRANT THEM PEACE . . . May 23: 1959 Edith Bennett; May 29: 1992 Robert William Anderson.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Acts 2:1-11, Psalm 104:25-32, 1 Corinthians 12:4-3, John 20:19-23 . . . 9:00 Celebrant & Preacher Father Gerth, 10:00 Celebrant & Preacher Father Parker, 11:00 AM Celebrant & Preacher The Rector, 5:00 PM Celebrant & Preacher, Father Parker . . . On Saturday, May 22, Father Parker will hear confessions. On Saturday, May 29, Father Smith will hear confessions.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Father Horace Choate's sister, Ellen Arnold, died in her sleep on Tuesday night, May 11, at her home in Demopolis, Alabama. Her death was entirely unexpected. As we go to press, Father and his family are still in Alabama. Please pray for the repose of the soul of Ellen and for all who mourn.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . When you miss a Sunday: It was an unexpected pleasure to have the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Most Reverend Frank T. Griswold, with us on Sunday, May 9. Bishop Griswold was celebrant for the Solemn Mass. Something special really does happen at Saint Mary's every Sunday and one never knows what it is going to be! . . . Congratulations to Stephanie Rochester who will be graduated this Sunday, May 23, from the State University of New York - New Paltz College. She plans to attend graduate school in psychology in the fall. Stephanie, congratulations! . . . Nina Pratt is moving to Rhode Island. We are happy for her, but we are going to miss her a lot! . . . The clergy are recruiting altar servers. No previous experience is necessary. If you might be interested in serving please speak to any of the members of the clergy . . . Attendance last Sunday: 173.
ORDINARY TIME . . . Eastertide ends with Evening Prayer on the Day of Pentecost. At Saint Mary's "Processiontide" is still underway. The First Sunday after Pentecost is Trinity Sunday. The Second Sunday after Pentecost is the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. But the ordinary season of the year returns on what used to be called "Whitmonday," the day after Whitsunday, a name used for Pentecost in the Prayer Book tradition. (Pentecost was a day for baptisms. The liturgical color has always been red. It was called "white" Sunday because of all the baptisms and baptismal garments.) The ordinary "Alleluia" will be sung before the Gospel instead of the Easter sequence hymn. At Morning Prayer the Eastertide invitatory and canticles change. The final "alleluias" are omitted from dismissals. And, the ordinary Fridays of the year are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord. The traditional way this is done is to abstain from meat.
AT THE MAY 10th, 1999 BOARD MEETING . . . Gerald McKelvey, vice-president of the Board, presided at the meeting in the absence of the Rector. The Board heard a summary from Thomas Kamm of the performance of Saint Mary’s investment accounts for the first quarter of 1999; learned that the by-laws of the Society of the Free Church of St. Mary the Virgin are being reviewed by an attorney to determine if they need any updating; considered three proposals for repair of the central air conditioning system in the Rectory; and considered a proposal to purchase a “skylift” which would be used in the church to change light bulbs and to attend to low ceiling repairs, if necessary. The regular monthly meeting of the Board is held on the second Monday of each month at 7:00 PM in Saint Benedict's Study. Members of the parish are welcome to attend.
CHILDREN'S CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . Very soon I will need to call together those people who are interested in helping Saint Mary's have a Sunday School for children. In the fall there will be a major parish Christian education workshop on the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. I expect there will be a training course for this work here beginning in January 2000. In the meantime, it will be possible for us to get started on this work. I have attended the training courses for catechists. I have a set of tapes of an excellent course given in Jackson, Mississippi a number of years ago. There are two atriums (the Catechesis word for the Sunday School room ) in Roman Catholic parishes in Manhattan. We can begin. If you think you may be interested in exploring whether you want to serve in children's ministries please speak with me. S.G.
Worship at Saint Mary’s During Eastertide
The Holy Eucharist
On Sundays Mass is said at 9:00 AM, 10:00 AM and 5:00 PM. A Solemn Mass is offered at 11:00 AM. Monday through Friday Mass is said at 12:15 PM and 6:15 PM. On Saturdays Mass is said at 12:15 PM.
The Daily Office
On ordinary Sundays Morning Prayer is said at 8:40 AM and Evening Prayer at 4:45 PM. Monday through Friday Morning Prayer is offered at 8:30 AM, the Noonday Office at 12:00 PM and Evening Prayer at 6:00 PM. On Saturdays the Noonday Office is offered at 12:00 PM and Evening Prayer at 5:00 PM.
The Reconciliation of Penitents
Confessions are heard on Saturdays between 11:30 and 12:00 and between 4:00 and 5:00. Appointments can also be made with members of the parish clergy for the Reconciliation of Penitents at other times.
The ordinary Fridays of the year are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
The Calendar of the First Week After Pentecost
Monday Jackson Kemper, Missionary Bishop
Tuesday The Venerable Bede, Priest & Monk
Wednesday Saint Augustine, Bishop (Ember Day)
Friday Ember Day
Saturday Ember Day