An Annual Report of Sorts
The Board of Trustees of Saint Mary’s will be meeting on Monday night, November 17. For those new to the community, Saint Mary’s is one of a small number of Episcopal parishes in the United States not organized in the ordinary way. It is a structure that has its strengths and weaknesses, but they are, I conclude after almost five years of service as rector, the same strengths and weaknesses of other forms of parish organization.
This coming Monday night is in one sense the last meeting of the year for our Trustees. The beginning of our year is the meeting of the Trustees, required by our bylaws, during the octave of December 8, the patronal feast. This year our patronal feast, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, will be very special indeed because the celebrant will be the Presiding Bishop & Primate of the Episcopal Church, the Most Reverend Frank T. Griswold. Especially at this point in the history of our Anglican Communion, I think we are so very blessed to have this opportunity to gather at the altar with Bishop Griswold and to show our support for his ministry by our presence and prayers.
The current Saint Mary’s year began last December 8 with this parish’s great friend, the Right Reverend James W. Montgomery, IX Bishop of Chicago, as celebrant with our Rector Emeritus, the Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, and I as his concelebrants. There was a powerful sermon by the Reverend Larry P. Smith, rector of the Church of the Incarnation, Dallas.
A few highlights of the year. The Right Reverend Richard F. Grein, XIV Bishop of New York, was with us to preside and preach at the Christmas Midnight Mass and for the first time in many years we had to put up chairs in the aisles to seat worshippers. Quick memories: McNeil Robinson’s recital in January. William Bingham’s baptism on “Missa Luba” Sunday. The Cathedral Singers from Oxford on the Transfiguration. The Assumption Solemn Mass on the day after the blackout. The ordination of John Beddingfield; his first Mass. The shadows of terrorism and war. Daily prayers for our servicemen on active duty. Requiem Masses for Eileen Sorensen and Bernard Flannery. Dedication Festival 2003. The exquisite peace at the Crèche on Christmas morning.
The Trustees and I spent a great deal of time and energy in 2002 and in early 2003 sorting through the real estate holding of the parish. This is the kind of thing that takes enormous amounts of time and flexibility. Nothing is simple in New York. We were able to report to the parish community at the annual meeting in March that we in fact had much less in terms of property development rights than anyone thought. In too many places, sorting out financial and real estate issues lead to division in leadership and, often, in parish communities themselves. The results seemed to focus our commitment and our faith in Saint Mary’s mission and to call for new ways to support it.
The Easter Triduum was phenomenal. It is an anomaly of our Episcopal Church that our presiding bishop does not have ordinary jurisdiction of a diocese and a cathedral in the United States. (He actually does have that jurisdiction – and a cathedral in Paris – for our American Episcopal churches in Europe.) It means he is free to be elsewhere. And those of us who were able to be here for the Three Days know it was simply extraordinary.
We continue to have lots to do. I know Father Beddingfield and I are looking forward to Matthew Mead’s arrival on July 1 as our curate for liturgy and education and so Father Beddingfield can really become our curate for congregational development and outreach. The Trustees continue to work on property and development issues. One of the most underreported news stories this year has been the extraordinary resurgence of the stock market – which doesn’t solve our need to find new members or new sources of revenue but, I confess, it helps me to sleep at night.
One of the wonderful liturgical traditions of this parish is the singing of that great hymn, “Lo! he comes with clouds descending,” at the end of the Solemn Mass on the last Sunday of the Church year, the Solemnity of Christ the King. I can hardly wait for the end of our year at Saint Mary’s and the beginning of the new. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Penelope and Loretta who are hospitalized, and for William, Robert, Gloria, Jason, Harold, Billie, John, Michael, Virginia, Bart, Margaret, Marion, Hugh, Rick, Mary Angela, religious, and Charles, priest, and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Ned, Timothy, Patrick, Kevin, Christopher, Andrew, Joseph, Marc, Timothy, David, and Colin and for the repose of the soul of Ichiro . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . November 19: 1990 Beryl Ermine Whittle; November 20: 1986 Richard Johnson.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . We received notice this week of the death of Kyoko Kageyama’s father, Matsu Moto, in Japan . . . Please pray for Ichiro and for all who mourn.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Daniel 12:1-4a, 5-13, Psalm 16:5-11, Hebrews 10:31-39, Mark 13:14-23 . . . On Saturday, November 15, because of the Annual Diocesan Convention, the only service will be Evening Prayer at 5:00 PM . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, November 22, by Father Beddingfield.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This week at the Sung Mass, played by associate organist Robert McDermitt, the prelude is Andante in A by Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) and the postlude is Trumpet Voluntary in D by John Stanley (1712-1786) . . . At the Solemn Mass, the prelude is Adagio in C-dur für Glasharmonika, KV 356 by W. A. Mozart (1756-1791). This piece originally was written (as the title indicates) for an instrument known as the glass harmonica. Largely developed from an earlier version (known as musical glasses) by none other than Benjamin Franklin in 1761, the instrument included actual glasses that were struck to produce the sound. The postlude is Sinfonia from Cantata, BWV 29 by J. S. Bach (1685-1750) and transcribed for organ by Marcel Dupré (1886-1971). The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa brevis in C-dur, KV 220 by Mozart. Known as Spatzenmesse, or “Sparrow Mass”, this nickname comes from the “chirping” motif heard in Sanctus. The motet at Communion is Laboravi in gemitu meo by Antonio Caldara (c. 1670-1736) . . . We continue our weekly series of organ recitals at 4:40. This week, Ms. Chelsea Chen will play works of Bach and Vierne. Ms. Chen is the organist of Emmanuel Presbyterian Church, New York and a student at the Juilliard School.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . It was great to have Father Alan and Theresa Moses with us this week, and we look forward very much to their next visit to Saint Mary’s . . . The Right Reverend Richard F. Grein, XIV Bishop of New York, will be with us on Christmas Eve to preside and to preach at the Christmas Midnight Mass . . . Mark your calendars for Saturday, December 6 when Saint Mary’s will offer an Advent Quiet Day from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM. Father Beddingfield will lead meditations on Mary Magdalene, Mary of Bethany and the Blessed Virgin Mary . . . The 2004 Ordo Calendars are here and will be available in Saint Joseph’s Hall after the Solemn Mass on Sunday . . . And, we’ve just had word that our former curate, the Reverend Allen Shin, will be with as preacher at Evensong on Candlemas Eve and as concelebrant for the Solemn Mass the next day . . . Attendance last Sunday 268.
Wisdom Literature: WEDNESDAY EVENINGS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Led by Professor Joseph Pearson, the class meets after Mass from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM in Saint Benedict’s Study. On November 19 we conclude this 4-week series with a study of The Song of Songs. Originally written for the joyful occasion of a marriage, this wedding canticle is often interpreted by Christian mystics to be an allegory depicting the love between God and the human soul. Can human love be for us an apt metaphor and a symbol of our relationship with God? Can the love we feel for one another draw us beyond ourselves, even to the love of God? Come and explore with us.
GIFTS ARE NEEDED FOR SAINT NICHOLAS CELEBRATION . . . AIDS Action International needs help gathering gifts for approximately 2000 children and adults who are living with HIV/AIDS. UNWRAPPED holiday gifts for children and adults should be placed in the marked box in Saint Joseph’s Hall. They will be taken to the cathedral on December 3 for the Saint Nicholas Celebration to take place that evening at 7:00 PM. Members of the New York City Police Department and others will distribute the gifts. Recipients includes Saint Mary’s Children’s Hospital AIDS Home Care Program, Albert Einstein Family Immunology Center, Saint Mary’s Episcopal Center, Bailey House, and A Better Place.
MEMBERSHIP NOTES . . . This week the parish office received and registered baptismal information for Dick Leitsch, formalizing his relationship with us and making him our newest church member. Dick often comes to evening Mass on weekdays, after having spent the afternoon researching family history at the library. Author of a book on colonial American history and a travel book, Dick is originally from Kentucky. In addition, he has a wealth of stories about growing up as a Roman Catholic in the South. Please welcome Dick when you see him.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost
Monday Hugh, bishop
Tuesday Hilda, abbess
Wednesday Elizabeth, princess
Thursday Edmund, king
Friday Weekday Abstinence
Saturday Cecilia, virgin & martyr
The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector,
The Reverend John Beddingfield, curate,
The Reverend Rosemari Sullivan, assisting priest, The Reverend John Kilgore, assisting deacon,
The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.