The Angelus



This issue of the Angelus is being written in web page format.  In the past, we wrote first for the paper version that we send out by United States mail.  The reason for this is simple.  Recent upgrades in our word processing program and in our web host mean that it takes far less time to prepare the newsletter in this new way.

In the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd children do not hear the phrase “the faith once delivered to the saints.”  It’s a nice, seemingly comfortable expression, but simply untrue.  It’s Christian propaganda, a big lie of our own.  Instead the children learn this: “Before the beginning of creation, there has been a plan in the mind of God to bring all people to know him and to enjoy him for ever.”  The children hear this in the context of presentations on the unfolding of the kingdom of God, which will continue to unfold until the end of time when God will be all in all.

Father Smith, James Kennerley and I meet weekly for what we call a “liturgy meeting.”  We go over bulletins, hymns and questions that come up about worship.  As part of our meeting this week, we continued our review of the services of Holy Week.  Thankfully, we’re just about finished with that.

During the meeting, I pulled out a file of Holy Week materials from my Nashotah House Seminary days to check the pointing of some of the music we use.  In the folder I found a copy of “Normative Guidelines for Priests who preside at the Eucharist at Nashotah House by Louis Weil” (Fall 1985).  Father Weil was writing about liturgy, but I think what he wrote applies broadly to life, especially the life of a parish community, “ . . . our liturgical norms should be based on upon the highest standard of theological and liturgical knowledge available to us.”

He continued, “I have learned from extensive work with clergy in continuing education programs that theological or liturgical criteria alone cannot address this sensitive question.  This area, as no other, becomes a ‘matter of personal opinion’ in which the individual priest is his own final authority.  We do not tolerate such a view in other areas of our theological enterprise, and there is no sound reason for accepting it in regard to the liturgy.”  Pretty great, isn’t it?

Right now, my thoughts about our parish are turned to two things.  First thought, I confess, is about the shape of our buildings.  I think it is past time for us to have a complete survey of the fabric of our facility, inside and out.  I’m getting estimates right now to present to the board.  The spalling on the façade of the church and on the exterior of the church nave and apse needs to be addressed.  But what else?  We’re in New York City.  Not every answer may be entirely correct, but we have access to resources.  I think it is time we looked ahead to see the work we will need to do to keep our church doors open before something starts to fail.

Second, I’m enormously proud of the work of the parish community at the present time.  I’m grateful to my colleagues and to those who have been able over these last few weeks to give so much of their time to the work of the parish.  I am very aware also of the gifts of prayer and money from our wider community without which this parish would not exist.  I do not think this kind of commitment would be flowing into Saint Mary’s if it were not for our focus on the work God is doing in our common life today.

Saint Mary’s has made its greatest contribution to others when it has actively sought to reflect “the highest standard of knowledge available to us” since its founding in 1868.  There was little like this parish in the American Church when it began. The kingdom is unfolding still and is calling us to be actively a part of it.  Stephen Gerth


I PUBLISH THE BANNS OF MARRIAGE for Rebekah Rachél Sterbin and Benjamin Slusky.  If any of you know just cause why they may not be joined in Holy Matrimony, you are bidden to declare it.  This is the first time of asking.  J.R.S.


I PUBLISH THE BANNS OF MARRIAGE for Daylene Hunte and Felipe Lee.  If any of you know just cause why they may not be joined in Holy Matrimony, you are bidden to declare it.  This is the first time of asking.  J.R.S.


YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED especially for Dennis, Carol, MaryJane, Chris, Cornelia, Kevin, Ethelyn, Luis, Rafael, Louis, Elaine, Angie, Rolf, Daisy, Ross, Roger, Henry, Nicholas, Robert, Elsa, Juan, William, Gert, Mary, Rick, Pegram, priest, and Edgar, priest; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially John, James, Kayla, Marc, Benjamin and Andrew . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . April 18: 1871 Edward Louis King; 1880 Jeremiah Bennett Aitkin; 1881 Madge Leroy; 1885 Jessie Helen Burhaus; 1895 Granville Perkins; 1923 Mary Harvey; 1926 Elizabeth Guion; 1944 Louise Preston Sharp; 1965 David H. Cunningham


THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Bible Study continues on Wednesday night following Evening Prayer . . . Father Smith will hear confessions on Saturday, April 17; Father Merz will hear confessions on Saturday, April 24 . . . The Rector will be away from the parish from the afternoon of Sunday, April 18, until Wednesday, April 22, at a Leadership in Ministry training conference.  He returns to the office on Friday, April 23.


FROM THE MUSIC DEPARTMENT . . . The prelude this Sunday is the third movement (Allegretto) from the Fourth Sonata in B-flat major, Op. 65/4 by Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847).  The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa brevis in B-flat, K. 275, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791).  The first performance of the Mass probably took place on December 21, 1777, in Salzburg.  Mozart was evidently fond of the work, although its style caused some controversy.  The final section of the Agnus Dei, for example, is set as a gavotte – a moderately lively dance that came from the French folk tradition.  At the ministration of Communion, the choir sings the motet Ave Maria by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901).  The work is taken from Quattro Pezzi Sacri (“Four Sacred Pieces”), composed in 1898 . . . Solemn Evensong & Benediction is sung by the choristers of Saint Paul's, Chestnut Hill, and Saint Thomas, Whitemarsh, Philadelphia, directed by Zachary Hemenway.  They will perform music by David Hogan, Andrew Carter and Michael Stitton.  James Kennerley


AROUND THE PARISH . . . MaryJane Boland is at Mount Sinai Hospital after surgery on Monday.  Father Edgar Wells, who also had surgery on Monday, is at Roosevelt Hospital.  Both are recovering well, but neither is receiving visitors at this time.  Dennis Smith had surgery this week and is now at home.  Please keep them in your prayers . . . Andrew Smith recently left New York and returned to Canada in order to begin a fellowship in Addiction Medicine at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), which is affiliated with the University of Toronto.  Andrew is a physician whose training is in pediatric neurology, with a further specialization in development and learning disabilities.  He hopes to build bridges between those fields and the emerging specialty of addiction medicine.  Andrew was with us over Holy Week and it was good to have him back at Saint Mary’s.  Please keep him in your prayers as he begins this new work and ministry; and we hope that he will be returning to New York, and the parish, before too long! . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 329


CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . The Adult Forum will meet next on Sunday, April 25, at 10:00 AM.  Art historian Dennis Raverty will give a slide lecture on “God & Nature in the Nineteenth-Century American Romantic Landscape” . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class . . . The class resumes on April 14 and will continue until Wednesday, June 9. Led by the sisters, the members of the class will be finishing their reading of the Book of Job and will then take up the books of Ruth, Esther and the Song of Songs.  The class normally meets on Wednesdays at 6:30 PM in the Arch Room on the second floor of the Mission House.  All are welcome. No prior experience is necessary.


FLOWERS NEEDED . . . Flowers are needed for the altar for the following days: Sunday, April 18; Sunday, May 2; Thursday, May 13, Ascension Day; Sunday, May 30, Trinity Sunday; Sunday, June 6, Corpus Christi; Sunday, June 13; Sunday, July 4, 11, 18, and 25.  If you would like to make a donation, please contact the Finance Office and thank you to all those who have made such generous gifts, allowing us to decorate the altar and church.


AIDS WALK, SUNDAY, MAY 16 . . . Saint Mary’s AIDS Walk team is forming now.  We invite you to join the team.  The 2010 AIDS Walk is on Sunday, May 16, but many Saint Marians and their friends will walk on Saturday in order to be in church on Sunday morning.  Flyers giving information about joining the team or supporting an individual walker will be on the ushers’ table near the church’s Forty-sixth Street entrance every Sunday.  If you can’t join the team but would like to support its members, and this very worthy cause, you can give a check made out to AWNY to one of the priests or to the sisters.  In 2009, Saint Mary’s ranked 27 out of 2,885 teams for its fundraising efforts.  Please help the team to beat last year’s record!  If you have questions, please send an e-mail to Father Smith (, who can put you in contact with the team leaders, MaryJane Boland and Grace Bruni.


VISUAL ARTS PROJECT . . . Exhibit now in Saint Joseph’s Hall: “Illuminated Psalms by Lisa Bell”.  Lisa Bell is an artist and calligrapher who lives in Hartford, Connecticut.  Lisa is a graduate of the Pratt Institute.  Her work is owned by private collectors who value her exquisite calligraphy, use of bold color, fine papers, and handmade frames – she is a picture framer by trade – to create unique works of art in the tradition of the medieval scribes and illuminators of the biblical text.  Susan Wamsley, Saint Mary’s Visual Arts Program



The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector
The Reverend James Ross Smith, curate
The Reverend Rebecca Weiner Tompkins, deacon
The Reverend John Merz, assisting priest
The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus

Saint Mary’s Mission House
Sister Deborah Francis, C.S.J.B.
Sister Laura Katharine, C.S.J.B.
The Community of St. John Baptist

The Parish Musicians
Mr. James Kennerley, organist and music director
Mr. Lawrence Trupiano, organ curator

Parish Staff
Mr. Aaron Koch, business manager
Mr. Steven Gonley, building superintendent
Mr. Miguel Gonzalez, Mr. Mario Martinez, Mr. H. Antonio Santiago, sextons