The Angelus

Volume 9, Number 21

From Father Beddingfield: Welcome Home, Sisters

There are times at Saint Mary’s when it almost seems as if the building says, “Thank you.”  During Lent, when we walk the Stations of the Cross, the aisles seem happy to be used and the walls seem proud to host images for reflection and prayer.  When the monstrance is raised in Benediction from the High Altar, it’s as though the sanctuary itself wants to say, “This is why I was made, thank you.”  And currently, with two nuns living in the Mission House, I can almost hear the rooms relaxing and the stairways settling into familiar sounds, as Anglican religious life returns to Saint Mary’s.  Sister Deborah Francis and Sister Laura Katharine are here and the building is very happy.

This Sunday afternoon we celebrate the return of Sisters to Saint Mary’s Mission House with a special Solemn Evensong & Benediction at 5:00 PM.   Our preacher will be the Reverend Sister Barbara Jean, superior of the Community of St. John Baptist.  The Right Reverend Herbert Donovan, bishop visitor to the community, will be in choir, and we will be joined by a number of friends from other religious communities in our area.  A reception follows in Saint Joseph’s Hall.

Those who know our history know that sisters were associated with Saint Mary’s from its beginning.  Even when the church was located at 45th Street and Broadway (currently the site of the Booth Theatre) the parish organized much of its mission with the help of women’s religious communities.  Some of these communities were loosely organized and parish-based.  The Sisters of Mercy and the Sisters of the Order of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary were active at Saint Mary’s in the 1880’s and 1890’s. Later, the Saint Mary’s parochial community was received into the larger Community of St. Mary.  After the death of Father Brown, the founding rector, several of the sisters moved to other houses of the order around the country.  When Father Barry was named Rector in 1909, he agreed to come only with the stipulation that sisters would return to the parish.  He invited the Sisters of the Holy Nativity, who were a large part of parish life at Saint Mary’s until their order consolidated and the sisters moved elsewhere in 1965.

The fifth Rector of Saint Mary’s, the Reverend Granville Mercer Williams, was himself a member of the Community of St. John the Evangelist.  Father Williams brought several other SSJE brothers with him to Saint Mary’s.  Because of this very monastic climate, it probably surprised no one to see the New York Times article on February 3, 1933: “Pontifical Mass Held for Episcopal Orders.”  The article describes how Candlemas that year was celebrated for all the Orders of Religious Communities of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the New York area.  The sermon was preached by a Franciscan brother who is described as being “clad in a dark gray monk’s garb.”

Monk’s garb and nun’s habit look very much at home at Saint Mary’s.  This is because our parish continues to witness to a faith in Christ that is taken seriously, felt deeply and celebrated richly.  We understand that while all baptized persons are called to live “religious lives,” there are some people who are called to live that life with additional commitment, dedication, faith and discipline. 

Please join us this Sunday afternoon.  If you cannot be with us in person, please pray for us as we give thanks for religious life in the Episcopal Church and as we help our building and our parish celebrate this new, deep happiness.  John Beddingfield


PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked especially for Charles who is hospitalized, Aaron, Drew, Virginia, Daisy, Chandra, Michael, Charles, Brian, Ana, Kevin, Gert, Harold, Robert, Gloria, Ray, Tony, William, Gabriela, Eve, Virginia, Mary, William, Gilbert, Rick, Suzanne, Thomas, priest, and Charles, priest, for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Fahad, Sean, David, Barron, Joseph, Patrick, Bruce, Brenden, Jonathan, Christopher and Timothy and for the repose of the soul of Mabel.  We also pray for the victims and families of those affected by the shootings in Virginia . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . April 20: 2006 Mary Grace Dougherty; April 23: 1993 Claude Cecil Morris; April 25: 1999 Helen Kingman; April 27: 1953 Hugh M. Smallwood, 1994 Frances Flagg.


AROUND THE PARISH . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, April 28, and on Saturday, May 5, by Father Beddingfield . . . The Reading Group meets Sunday, May 6 after the Solemn Mass and will be discussing part one of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon . . . Father Mead’s Wednesday Night Dinner & Bible Study on the Maccabees continues this week.  The class follows the 6:20 PM Mass and meets in Saint Benedict’s Study . . . Attendance last Sunday 236.


NOTES ON MUSIC . . . The prelude before Mass is an improvisation on ‘St. Albinus’, today’s concluding hymn.  The postlude is three chorale preludes for Easter by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), from Das Orgel-Büchlein.  The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa in simplicitate (1953) by Jean Langlais (1907-1991), the French composer and organist who was blind from a young age.  Langlais’ music, while unmistakably a product of the twentieth century, often has a certain “ancient” sound, in part due to modally-inflected harmonies.  The anthem at Communion is Christo resurgenti by François Couperin (1668-1733), adapted by Philip Ledger (b. 1937) . . . The organ recital at 4:40 PM is by Kyle Babin.  Mr. Babin, a doctoral candidate at the Manhattan School of Music, will also present a degree recital at Saint Mary’s on Tuesday, May 1 at 8:00 PM.  Robert McCormick 


ROBERT McCORMICK AND RUTH CUNNINGHAM IN CONCERT . . . This coming Monday, April 23 at 8:00 PM, Robert McCormick and Ruth Cunningham, soprano, will present a program of music for Eastertide, mostly improvised.  Ms. Cunningham, a member of our choir and formerly a member of Anonymous 4, is often heard during Solemn Masses chanting her own version of the Latin propers.  This concert provides an opportunity to hear her in a more extended setting, in addition to organ works by Tournemire, Bach and Duruflé.  Admission is free. 


SAINT MARY’S GUILD BEGINS MONTHLY MEETINGS MAY 5 . . . Under the direction of Sister Laura Katharine, the Saint Mary’s Guild (primarily responsible for the care and maintenance of liturgical vestments and vessels) will meet the first Saturday of every month. The inaugural meeting is Saturday, May 5.  Members of the Guild will gather at the 12:10 PM Mass in the church and then move to Saint Benedict’s Study for lunch.  After lunch the Guild will clean the parish altar vessels and make necessary repairs to the parish vestments.  If you are interested in joining the Saint Mary’s Guild, please speak to Sister Laura Katharine or Father Mead or simply come to one of the monthly meetings.


ANGLO-CATHOLIC HYMNODY . . . Mr. Robert Picken will lead a three-part study of Anglo-catholic Hymns and Hymnody.  The classes meet following Solemn Mass in Saint Benedict’s Study on Sundays, April 29, May 6 and May 13. 


HABITS OF THE HEART: ANGLICAN RELIGIOUS LIFE . . . Join Sister Deborah Francis and Sister Laura Katharine in Saint Joseph’s Hall after the Solemn Mass on Sunday, May 20.  The sisters will present an overview, brief history and casual conversation about Anglican religious orders and what it is like to be an Anglican nun.  This will be a great opportunity to learn more about religious life, and specifically a chance to get to know our sisters better.


JOIN OR SUPPORT THE SAINT MARY’S AIDS WALK TEAM . . . Saint Mary’s team will walk again this year on Saturday, May 19, and on Sunday, May 20, and we would love you to join us on one or both of those days.  If you can’t walk with us, please donate to our walk.  To learn more, pick up an information sheet at church or contact MaryJane Boland or Mary Robison.  Our goal is to have 25 walkers from Saint Mary’s and to raise $15,000.00 for the fight against AIDS.


EASTERTIDE . . . In its first centuries the Church seems to have adopted an Easter Season of fifty days from its Jewish heritage where a “week of weeks” – that is, fifty days – is observed beginning with the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  By the end of the fourth century, a separate feast to commemorate the Ascension begins to emerge on the fortieth day.  Eastertide for most of Christian history has been a season of forty days.  The liturgical reforms of the 1960s, among a wide consensus of Western Christians, restored the earlier practice.  The Ascension is observed by the Episcopal Church as a major feast on the fortieth day.  Thus, it is always the Thursday after the Sixth Sunday of Easter.  But the ascension of our Lord is actually proclaimed on Good Friday during John’s Passion.  (In John, Jesus ascends to heaven directly from the cross after handing over his Spirit to his friends.) 


The Episcopal Church strengthens the character of the season in a number of ways liturgically.  We use the great Easter dismissal with its alleluias through Pentecost.  For a number of years our congregation has continued to sing at Solemn Mass the special Easter hymn, Christians, to the Paschal victim, before the gospel until Pentecost (which has its own special hymn appointed to be sung before the gospel, Come, thou Holy Spirit, come).   Fridays are not to be observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the Lord’s crucifixion – as is the custom on the ordinary Fridays of the rest of the year.  “Alleluia,” that is, “Praise to the Lord,” is added to several acclamations during Eastertide.  The readings for Pentecost, the last day of Eastertide, include Luke’s account of the descent of the Spirit on the fiftieth day and John’s account of the second gift of the Spirit to his friends on the first Easter Day.  It is also one of the great days of the year for Christian baptism and we hope to celebrate several that day.  S.G.


The Calendar of the Week

Sunday                   The Third Sunday of Easter

Monday                     Easter Weekday

Tuesday                     Easter Weekday

Eve of Saint Mark’s Day 6:20 PM

Wednesday            Saint Mark, Apostle and Evangelist

Thursday                   Easter Weekday

Friday                         Easter Weekday                                                          No Abstinence

Saturday                    Of Our Lady



Sunday: 8:30 AM Sung Matins, 9:00 AM Mass, 10:00 AM Sung Mass, 11:00 AM Solemn Mass, 5:00 PM Solemn Evensong & Benediction.  Childcare from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM.

Monday – Friday: 8:30 AM Morning Prayer, 12:00 PM Noonday Office, 12:10 PM Mass, 6:00 PM Evening Prayer, 6:20 PM Mass.

Saturday in Easter Week: 12:00 PM Noonday Office, 12:10 PM Mass, 5:00 PM Evening Prayer, 5:20 PM Sunday Vigil Mass.