The Angelus

Volume XII, Number 2

From The Rector: Vision of our Founders

On December 8, 1870, the doors of the first church opened, and on that day, the first service in the new church of the new midtown parish, then located on the other side of what was called Longacre Square, was held. A Guide to the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin New York City (1999) notes that this first church, built “in a simple gothic style,” was unfinished as the parish’s work began. The doors of our second and present church home opened on December 8, 1895, and Mass was celebrated. This building was unfinished too. But both buildings and how they were used every day from their beginning spoke of the character, commitment and vision of the men and women who founded this parish. 

Saint Mary’s was founded for the renewal of congregational worship in the wake of the Anglo-catholic revival in Anglicanism. Saint Mary’s was “founded without money, by men of moderate means” (The Story of St. Mary’s [1931] 13). However, the common life of this congregation from its beginning helped to shape the common life of the wider American Church.

Mass has been celebrated daily at Saint Mary’s since December 8, 1870. I would not want to begin to try to calculate how many total services have been celebrated in our churches since that first Mass. Saint Mary’s common life has rarely been static. One did not and does not come to Saint Mary’s expecting things to be the same. Something new is always happening. People come and go; clergy come and go. Buildings and decoration change. The Prayer Book changes. For the record, Saint Mary’s is old enough to have had all of the American editions of the Prayer Book in the pews. What doesn’t change is a central commitment to Christ, to the very best worship and music possible, and to loving and serving others in Christ’s name.

Worship has a particular power to transform human lives, to take what has been and lead it to a new place. Worship matters here. Worship continues to draw people closer to God and to others. But the parish has been more than church services. Worship means nothing without our service to those in need. Saint Mary’s opens its doors every day to provide refuge for people who have no other place to rest. Saint Mary’s feeds people who are hungry. At the center of all we do today is the meal we share at God’s Table, the Holy Eucharist.

The more I learn about the history of our parish, the more I discover how this community has always had something of a radical edge. Saint Mary’s has for the most part been on the forward edge of becoming a place where all truly are welcome. We are all sisters and brothers in Christ. To the extent that it is possible for any community to be a place where the ordinary, and usually sinful, prejudices separate and segregate us, Saint Mary’s is a place where distinctions do not matter. Daily our parish lives out our denomination’s best tag line, “The Episcopal Church Welcomes You.”

On Tuesday, December 8, we will gather for the celebration of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It’s a feast that’s not common among American Episcopalians. And even in Anglican Churches where it is better known, I suspect that the festival’s role in the life of the Roman Church influences some other Christians to look elsewhere to celebrate the role of Mary in salvation history. But this parish was founded to be a place that took the best of the catholic heritage in order to renew it – and not to be afraid of something new. God has always had a plan to bring all people to know him and to love him. Mary said “yes” to God. When God invites us to say the same thing to him, may the words of Mary be our words, “Be it unto me according to your will.”

Most readers of this newsletter are not local. If you are near, I hope that you can join us for one or more of the services of the day. If you are far away, I would ask you to remember the work and witness of this community with thanksgiving wherever you are this coming Tuesday. God bless you. God bless Saint Mary’s. Stephen Gerth


SUNDAY PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Carol, Nancy, Jack, Sandy, Burt, Dennis, Regina, Josephine, Robert, Chris, Timothy, Alex, Aaron, Dorothy, Sharon, Margaret, Harold, Marcia, Stephen, Madeleine, William, Gert, Mary, Allan, Rick, and Emil, religious; and for the repose of the soul of Thomas O’Keefe . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . 1876 Mary Esther Weston; 1947 Minnie Simonson; 1961 Katherine Ann Collins.


I PUBLISH THE BANNS OF MARRIAGE for Paul Wojnicki and Alena Chalmovska of Leeds, United Kingdom. If any of you know just cause why they may not be joined together in Holy Matrimony, you are bidden to declare it. This is the third time of asking. J.R.S.


PATRONAL FEAST . . . Monday, December 7, on the Eve of the Feast of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Solemn Evensong will be offered at 6:00 PM. Tuesday, December 8, the Feast of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary our schedule is: Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Sung Mass 12:10 PM, Organ Recital 5:30 PM and Solemn Mass 6:00 PM. A reception follows the evening Mass in Saint Joseph’s Hall.


ALSO THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The Rector speaks on Sunday in the Adult Forum at 10:00 AM on The American Editions of the Prayer Book, 1789-1979. This class meets in the Arch Room, on the second floor of the Mission House . . . Sunday School for Children will also meet at 10:00 AM on Sunday in the Morning Room, which is near the sacristy . . . Saturday, December 12, is the 114th Anniversary of the Consecration of the Church. We will commemorate this at the 12:10 PM Saturday Mass.


AROUND THE PARISH . . . The Stewardship Committee mailed follow-up letters this week to all those who pledged for 2009 but have not yet returned their 2010 pledge cards. We are still waiting – and hoping! – to hear from nearly 40% of households that pledged for 2009, but have not yet done so for 2010. If you need a pledge card, please call the Finance Office . . . The Finance Office mailed statements to our members and friends this week. The statements provide a record of giving to date, as well as 2009 pledge balances. Please call Aaron Koch at extension 14 if you have any questions . . . Our annual Christmas appeal will be mailed on Saturday. We urge you to give the appeal your prayerful consideration . . . Volunteers are needed on Saturday, December 19, to polish brass and help organize the sacristy for Christmas. Please speak with Daniel Craig or Sister Laura Katharine if you can help. We start at 10:00 AM . . . We were delighted to learn that Fred G. Peelen has been made a knight of the Order of Oranje-Nassau by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands in recognition of his work with the Netherland-America Foundation. Fred is a member of the parish and has served as a member of the Board of Trustees. (Fred told the rector that the Dutch do not use the appellation “Sir” – and he has confirmed that Fred is not just being humble!) Fred, congratulations! . . . Father Jay Smith celebrates the twentieth anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood on Wednesday, December 9. Please remember  him in your prayers . . .Volunteers are needed to help decorate the church: Sunday, December 20, after Solemn Mass; Tuesday, December 22, and Wednesday, December 23, work sessions beginning around 9:30 AM; Thursday, December 24, final work session at 10:00 AM, following the 9:00 AM Mass. There will also be a work session after Epiphany (date and time to be announced) to “un-decorate” the church. Please contact Marie Rosseels or Rick Austil if you would like to help. All are welcome! . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 281; Saint Andrew’s Day 32.


FROM THE MUSIC DEPARTMENT . . .  Music this Sunday is sung by the lower voices of the choir, a result of the great reduction in the music operating budget for 2009. Please consider the importance of music within the life of this great parish community, particularly if you have not yet submitted your pledge.  Many thanks to those who continue to support our music program . . . The setting of the Mass ordinary this Sunday is Mass for Four Voices by Thomas Tallis (c. 1505-1585). At the ministration of Communion, the choir sings the motet De caelo veniet by Jacob Handl (1550-1591), a setting of three antiphons for the second week in Advent . . . At the 6:00 PM Solemn Mass for the Feast of the Conception of the Virgin Mary, the choir sings Missa brevis by Zoltán Kodály (1882-1967) and Bogoródyitse Dyévo (a setting of Ave Maria) by Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943).   At 5:30 PM, international concert artist Stephen Tharp will play an organ recital. On Saturday, December 19, at 8:00 PM, I will be the soloist for Poulenc’s Concerto pour orgue; and other music will include Saint-Saëns’ Symphonie No. 3 (“Organ”) and Thompson’s The plough that broke the plains, played by the New York Repertory Orchestra, David Leibowitz, conductor. James Kennerley


WHY I LOVE SAINT MARY’S . . . As part of the 2010 Stewardship Campaign, the Stewardship Committee is continuing to publish contributions to its series, Why I Love Saint Mary’s. Parishioner Darrell Lester has written the latest addition to the series: I don’t live in New York. I make my home in south Florida, but my church home is Saint Mary the Virgin. My first time at Saint Mary’s was at a service of Evensong and Benediction in the fall of 1973.In all the years since, I have yet to find another parish that welcomes, worships and moves in the community as richly and wonderfully as this parish. I returned in 2004after a thirty-year absence, and it was more than I could ever have hoped for. The usher that greeted me that morning has become a dear friend. There are many others whom I have met at Saint Mary whom I also consider dear and wonderful friends. I know of no other parish that worships as we do, not only on Sunday, but every day of the week. Most important, we are a parish that welcomes all. Whoever you are and wherever you may be in your spiritual journey, you are welcome at Saint Mary's. To me, this is what church should be about. this is why I chose to transfer my membership and support this parish financially. This is why I love Saint Mary’s. Darrell W. Lester


OUTREACH MINISTRIES AT SAINT MARY’S . . . We continue to collect non-perishable food items and new or “gently used” clothing for the Food Pantry at Saint Clement’s Church. The Pantry serves families living in our own neighborhood. The Pantry fills an increasingly important need during this time of economic difficulty. Those needs are particularly pressing during the next six weeks. You are invited to bring food or clothing and place it in the basket in Saint Joseph’s Hall after Mass (or at the ushers’ table before Mass). You can also make a cash donation, if that is more convenient for you (speak to Father Smith about how to do that) . . . 21st Annual New York Cares Coat Drive: Once again this year – between December 1 and December 31 – we are participating in the Coat Drive. You are invited to bring your new or gently used coats, for either children or adults, to church on Sundays. We will deliver them to one of the donation sites at the end of December . . . Parish of San Juan Evangelista, Villanueva, Honduras: Though we are not planning a mission trip this year, we hope to be able to continue to provide our friends at San Juan Evangelista with financial support. Please speak to Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins for details. J.R.S.



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

Aaron Koch, business manager.

Mr. Hector Rojas, building mechanic.

Mr. Mario Martinez, Mr. H. Tony Santiago, Mr. Timothy Zimmerman, sextons.


Questions about the Angelus newsletter 



Sunday: 8:30 AM Sung Matins, 9:00 AM Said Mass, 10:00 AM Said Mass, 10:00 AM Sunday School, 11:00 AM Solemn Mass, 4:40 PM Organ Recital, 5:00 PM Solemn Evensong & Benediction. Childcare is available from 8:45 AM until 12:45 PM every Sunday of the year.


Monday–Friday: 8:30 AM Morning Prayer, 12:00 PM Noonday Office, 12:10 PM Mass, 6:00 PM Evening Prayer. The Wednesday 12:10 PM Mass is sung. Thursday Masses include anointing of the sick. Holy days as announced.


Saturday: 12:00 PM Noonday Office, 12:10 PM Mass, 5:00 PM Evening Prayer, 5:20 PM Sunday Vigil Mass. Confessions are normally heard on Saturdays at 11:30 AM and 4:00 PM or by appointment.