This newsletter is written primarily for members of the local parish community. I think that others who read it can get a good sense of the life of the parish from it. What will be hard for me to do in this article is to begin to convey adequately the grace of the solemn liturgy on the Feast of the Assumption. Many special occasions have been celebrated in this church, yet I suspect Tuesday’s celebration was as glorious as any there have ever been.
The official count for the evening Mass was 370. Ushers, I think there were more! The church was full. Hundreds of people were here for the recital before Mass. Although Father Wells was the celebrant it fell to me as rector to come out before the liturgy to lead the Angelus. When the congregation made the responses the church was filled with sound. This was just the beginning.
I don’t know Latin well at all, but I have worked with the texts for the minor propers over the years. Although I don’t carry a bulletin in procession, I knew that when a beautiful voice began singing the entrance song praise was being offered to the Woman Clothed with the Sun. And the choir is good enough and my Latin is good enough to understand without an English text, Cantate Domino cantecum novum: quia mirabilia fecit. (Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things.)
The church looked lovely. The flowers were given to the Glory of God and in thanksgiving for the priesthood of Father Wells by Saint Vincent’s Guild, the guild of servers. They were especially fine. They were white, as always for a feast of our Lady. And the flowers that we would see after the Mass in Saint Joseph’s Hall were big and wonderful too!
The procession entered. Bishop Roskam was with us in choir along with two priests who assist at weekday Masses, Canon Garrison and Father Bates, and our preacher, the Archdeacon of Montreal, the Venerable Peter Hannen. The altar servers were great. And the statue of our Lady of Walsingham was borne by ushers and acolytes. The opening processional hymn was “Immaculate Mary, your praises we sing.” The procession went from the altar, down the main aisle, up the gospel aisle, behind the altar and stopped on the epistle side so that the celebrant and his assistants were at the Shrine of our Lady. I then heard Father Wells chant for the first time. In his voice I heard the sound of my predecessors in this place, the sound of many Masses. It is a moment I shall not forget.
We moved to the station at the Rood singing, “Ye watchers and ye holy ones.” Few things are any more powerful in our building than prayer at this station. Then the choir began Gloria in excelsis from Messe Solonnelle by Louis Vierne. It was big music for a big occasion and it was sung beautifully.
Archdeacon Peter Hannen is known to many in the wider parish community as he is an old friend of Father Wells and of Saint Mary’s. Those of you who were not here will have the chance, I hope, of reading Father’s sermon in a future issue of AVE. It was truly Good News and was shared with devotion, wisdom and humor. I hope very much Father will be able to be back to preach in the not too distant future.
When the assembly began singing “Ye who own the faith of Jesus” it was as if the roof were going to open. It is a hymn we love and it echoed again up to heaven from an assembly within these walls, as it has for generations in this parish community. Then, Father began chanting the introductory dialogue of the Great Thanksgiving. Frankly, I can’t put into words everything I was feeling at this moment and I am sure others felt the same awe I did. Father Wells, eighth rector of this parish, a priest for forty years, was standing once again before an altar of the Lord. A consecrated altar is a particular sign in Christian tradition of Christ himself. Altars are consecrated with rites not unlike the full rite of Holy Baptism. The priestly servant of the Lord and of the Lord’s People was standing to lead the People in doing what the Lord commanded. I tried very hard for my eyes and ears and heart to be open to the moment and the presence. It was in every way glorious.
The Mass continued to unfold. Bishop Roskam, Father Bates and I assisted Father Wells with the ministration of Holy Communion at the high altar. I did wonder whether sufficient Bread and Wine had been consecrated. I should not have worried. This detail along with so many others was taken care of by those who offered themselves to the service of the assembly. A bell rings. A liturgy begins. It then unfolds with grace because it is built on a foundation of love for the Eucharistic Christ. The Mass has always mattered here and the love for it is palpable.
A grand reception unfolded in Saint Joseph’s Hall following the liturgy. Many members of the wider Episcopal community were here for the liturgy and for the occasion. Bishop Taylor was here with his daughter. (Her birthday, August 15, is the one occasion at Saint Mary’s when he sits in the congregation.)
There will be more special times in the life of this community in our generation and in the generations to come. For those who helped to make this evening possible, I thank you. Too many people to name did work on so many, many things. For those who attended I thank you for being present for this occasion. For those who could not attend I hope you sense the spiritual power of the witness of the life of this parish wherever you are. We are radically committed to the Lord’s words, “I am with you always.” He was and is and will be with us in the Most Holy Sacrament of the altar and in the hearts of his faithful people. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Olga, Helen, Shirley, Hannah, Dawn, Mary, Lucille, Frances, Eleanor, Carl, Harold, Frank, Deborah, Eleanor and Stephen and for the repose of the soul of Vernon . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . August 22:1949 Mattie Myrtle Jones; 1997 Charles Bertram Harmon; August 24: 1959 Mabel Lenora Heyny; 1972 John Alexander, Clara Dorothy Lewis; August 25: 1983 Arthur Atkinson III; 1990 Elipha B. Streeter.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . The parish office received word this week that Vernon Frederick Veader, a member of the parish, died on August 5, 2000. Please pray for him.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Proverbs 9:1-6, Psalm 43:9-14, Ephesians 5:15-20, John 6:53-59 . . . 9:00 AM Celebrant: Father Gerth, Preacher: Richard Lawson, 10:00 AM Celebrant & Preacher: Father Breidenthal, 11:00 AM Celebrant & Preacher: Father Breidenthal, 5:00 PM Celebrant & Preacher: Father Gerth . . . Confessions will be heard on August 19 by Father Gerth . . . Confessions will be heard on August 26 by Father Gerth.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . A special thank you to all those who worked so hard to make The Assumption such a splendid occasion, especially Ann Sokolowski (baking), Ric Miranda (brass polishing), Howard Christian (flowers) Chuck Carson (altar and sacristy preparations) . . .Altar flowers are needed for Sunday, September 10 and Sunday, September 24. If you are interested in donating flowers in memory of a loved one or in thanksgiving please call the parish office at 212-869-5830 . . . The Board of Trustees will meet on Monday, August 21, at 7:00 PM . . . As we go to press, $9,512.00 been received for the appeal for painting and repair of Saint Joseph’s Hall. Please make your gifts payable to Saint Mary’s and mark them for Saint Joseph’s Hall Restoration. Thank you! . . . Please continue to keep Father Shin and Amelia Rochester in your prayers as they continue their mission trip in Korea . . . Attendance last Sunday 154. Attendance on Assumption 410.
CONFRATERNITY OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT . . . The Saint Mary’s Ward of the Confraternity will meet on Saturday, August 20. All former members and interested newcomers are invited to attend the Noonday office and the Mass at 12:20. At 1:00 PM there will be a luncheon meeting (please bring a sandwich, tea and coffee will be provided) to discuss plans for revitalizing the Saint Mary’s Ward. Come with your ideas about meeting format, possible quiet days or retreats, officers for the ward, and any other ideas you may have about how the Confraternity might contribute to the faith and energy of Saint Mary’s. The meeting will conclude before 3:00 PM with prayer. Father Brown, the founding rector of Saint Mary’s, was one of the first Americans to be inducted into the Confraternity, and he quickly established a ward in this parish. The main work of the Confraternity is to honor Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament of His Body and Blood, and to offer intercessory prayers. Please come on Saturday to find out more.
VOLUNTEER HELP NEEDED . . . Is God calling you to fold? Have you recently felt a burning desire to adhere labels? Do you discern the Spirit urging you to staple? If so, the parish would be grateful for your help. Volunteers are needed who can spare 3 to 4 hours a week on Thursday afternoons to help with the folding, posting and labeling of the Angelus, the newsletter you are now reading. Please contact the parish office at 869-5830 if you are interested or would like to know more. Also, volunteers are needed to help fold and staple the Sunday bulletins, usually compiled on Friday evening or Saturday afternoon.
Worship at Saint Mary’s
The Holy Eucharist
On Sundays Mass is said at 9:00 AM, 10:00 AM and 5:00 PM. A Solemn Mass is offered at 11:00 AM. Monday through Friday Mass is said at 12:15 PM and 6:20 PM. On Saturdays Mass is said at 12:15 PM.
The Daily Office
On ordinary Sundays Morning Prayer is said at 8:30 AM and Evening Prayer at 4:45 PM. Monday through Friday Morning Prayer is offered at 8:30 AM, the Noonday Office at 12:00 PM and Evening Prayer at 6:00 PM. On Saturdays the Noonday Office is offered at 12:00 PM and Evening Prayer at 5:00 PM.
The Reconciliation of Penitents
Confessions are heard on Saturdays between 11:30 and 12:00 and between 4:00 and 5:00. Appointments can also be made with members of the parish clergy for the Reconciliation of Penitents at other times.
The ordinary Fridays of the year are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
The Calendar for the Tenth Week after Pentecost
Eve of Saint Bartholomew’s Day 6:20 PM
Thursday Saint Bartholomew the Apostle
Friday Louis, king
Saturday Of Our Lady
The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector,
The Reverend Allen Shin, curate, The Reverend Thomas Breidenthal, assistant,
The Reverend Arthur Wolsoncroft, The Reverend Canon Maurice Garrison,
The Reverend Amilcar Figueroa, assisting priests, The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.