From the Rector: Easter Graces
On Easter Day as I arrived for a short rehearsal before Solemn Evensong, I learned that a few very small pieces of stone seemed to have fallen from the front of our building to the sidewalk. We couldn’t find any obvious source of a problem. On Tuesday we had an engineering firm here. On Wednesday, they returned with equipment to evaluate a couple of areas of concern. As I write on Thursday morning, a “sidewalk shed” is going up across the front of Saint Mary’s complex of buildings on West 46th Street. The great Easter grace is that we know we have a problem and no one was injured in its discovery. For this, I am very, very thankful.
The problem is with one of the decorative towers on the Mission House side of the church’s front façade. We are in the process of contacting our insurance company, the diocese and those who may be of help to us in the next steps. It is past time for a complete facilities survey. Since I’ve been rector, the electrical systems have been evaluated for safety. Roofs have been inspected. I know our plumber very well. But it’s time for us to find the money to make sure our church home is secure and to develop a plan to continue the renovation of our facility. There will always be surprises, but we want as few as possible.
I want to write also about some of the more usual Easter graces which were with us in abundance. It was great week for worship at Saint Mary’s, a week that confirmed for me the richness of living tradition. Bishop Griswold was with us for the Easter Triduum – a great honor and joy for us. I was more than a little worried going into the week. Father Smith and I divided up the job that Father Matthew Mead, most recently, did. If I may say so, we got it done but not by ourselves. Many, many people made it all possible, including our musicians. All was offered for the glory of God.
The services had a clarity and richness that happens only in places were sacramental signs matter most of all for their meaning, not their ceremony – and where the rites are complete. From the Liturgy of the Palms to the Washing of Feet, from the Passion to the Great Alleluia, from “God is reigning from the tree” to “Alleluia! The strife is o’er,” from Mozart to Swayne, the people gathered here shared fully in the suppers and praises of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The great graces and great challenges of life are often unexpected. I cannot but be thankful this morning that we have no cause as a community to mourn or to be caring for someone who was hurt by our church home. I thank all of the members and friends of Saint Mary’s for their continuing support and commitment to the particular witness of this parish. Since 1868, Saint Mary’s has been committed to the renewal of worship. We remain on the forefront of that call. Happy Easter. Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED especially for Carol, MaryJane, Ethelyn, Cornelia, Luis, Rafael, Louis, Jane, Elaine, Gary, Angie, Rolf, Jack, Daisy, Ross, Alice, Charlie, Jo Ann, Roger, Henry, Nicholas, Chris, Dorothy, Robert, Elsa, Juan, Chris, William, Gert, Mary, Rick, Pegram, priest, and for John, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially John, James, Christine, Kayla, Marc, Benjamin, Patrick, and Andrew . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . April 11: 1872 Anna Hart Guion; 1877 William Greenwood Smith; 1887 Inion Lehan
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Ryan Jackson plays the complete organ works of Maurice Duruflé on Saturday, April 10, at 2:30 PM. Admission is free . . . Confessions are heard on Saturday, April 10, only by appointment. Father Smith will hear confessions on Saturday, April 17 . . . Father Matthew Mead’s institution as rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd, Granite Springs, New York, will take place on Friday, April 16, at 6:30 PM. Bishop Mark Sisk will preside. Father Gerth is the preacher. Transportation from the train station in Katonah (Metro-North, Harlem Line) to the church in Granite Springs is available. Please contact Father Jay Smith for more information.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . We are immensely grateful to all those who worked so hard and did so much here at Saint Mary’s during Holy Week: to Bishop Frank Griswold; to our devoted acolytes, ushers, and musicians; to the talented and hardworking team that decorated the church: Rick Austill, Grace Bruni, Tom Heffernan, Scott Holman, Marie Rosseels, Reha Sterbin, and this season’s team leader, José Vidal; to those who provided food for the acolyte supper on Easter Eve and coffee hour on Easter Day; to Darrell Lester and Clark Mitchell, who organized the acolyte supper and provided hospitality; to the anonymous donor who made the reception after the Easter Vigil possible; to Jim Dennis, John Delves, and Jon Bryant who were hosts at the reception; to Terry Carlson who has been working tirelessly on the lighting in the church; to Clint Best, Scott Holman, Dick Leitsch, and Bob Picken, who were so helpful in the parish and finance offices during this very busy time of year; to Dick Leitsch for his continued work as usher, verger and minister of hospitality at so many of our services and liturgies . . . April 16, 2010 is the twentieth anniversary of the designation of our church complex on the National Register of Historic Places. (Thanks to Terry Carlson for this reminder!) . . . Sister Laura Katharine is away on vacation. She returns to the parish on Saturday evening, April 17 . . . Sr. Barbara Jean, C.S.J.B., recently retired superior of the order will be in residence with the sisters this month. We look forward to welcoming her during her stay . . . Attendance: Palm Sunday 388; Maundy Thursday 218; Good Friday 389; Easter 981.
FROM THE MUSIC DEPARTMENT . . . Choral music this Sunday is sung by the Chapel Choir of St. John’s College, Oxford University, directed by Richard Moore, organ scholar. We are extremely grateful for their music-making. I will be playing an improvisation on O filii et filiae, today’s hymn at the preparation of the gifts, as a prelude to Solemn Mass. The setting of the Mass Ordinary is Missa Brevis in G, KV 49, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791). At the ministration of Communion, the choir sings “Since by man came death”, a vivid setting of words from 1 Corinthians, taken from Messiah by George Frideric Handel (1685-1759). James Kennerley
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 contact Grace Bruni or MaryJane Boland.
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 Committee
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . $2,195.00 was received at the Maundy Thursday liturgy. All of this offering, traditionally for the poor, will be sent to Episcopal Relief and Development in Haiti. We are very grateful to the people of the parish community for this generous offering . . . We continue to collect food, clothing, and cash donations for the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry. Please look for the basket in the back of the church this week where you can drop off canned goods and other non-perishable food items. Please contact Father Smith if you would like to make a cash donation.
NATIONAL MARROW DONOR PROGRAM . . . Parishioner Michael Reid is part of a Scottish Dance Community fund raising dance marathon. Sponsors can commit to a fixed dollar amount, to an amount per dance or to a dollar amount per dance up to a “ceiling.” To sign up, please contact Michael: MAReid@aol.com.
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.
AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . “The Mourners: Medieval Tomb Sculptures From the Court of Burgundy” now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. From the April 7 review in the Wall Street Journal: “A group of modestly sized (c. 15-inch-high) alabaster figures ripped from their [original] context – the tomb of John the Fearless (reigned 1404-19) – seems barely enough to constitute a major exhibition. Yet this grouping casts a magic spell that is as sublime and compelling as anything you are likely to encounter in any museum this season . . . The small alabaster figures here attain a stunning monumentality and convey a variety of emotions that force us to contemplate the meanings in their various attitudes.”
The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector
The Reverend James Ross Smith, curate
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
Mr. Aaron Koch, business manager
Mr. Steven Gonley, building superintendent,
Mr. Miguel Gonzalez, Mr. Mario Martinez, Mr. H. Antonio Santiago, sextons