The Angelus

Volume 3, Number 23

From the Rector: Clergy & Staff Notes & Other Things

Saint Mary’s has a long history of associations with members of the clergy for whom this particular community of faith has mattered a great deal.  The influence of the parish on the formation of priests and many future bishops is a matter of record and a powerful witness about the importance of mission of this parish church.  I know that most likely while I am rector of Saint Mary’s many priests will assist here.  I want to tell you today that Father J. Barrington Bates who has been serving this year as an assisting priest will be leaving us.  He is a doctoral student in liturgy at the General Theological Seminary and his work is moving to a new level where having a regular commitment with us is no longer practical.  We will miss him.

I am honored to tell you that the Reverend Rosemari G. Sullivan, executive officer of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, will be serving as an assisting priest.  Mother Sullivan served as rector of Saint Clement’s Church, Alexandria, Virginia from 1987 until her appointment in 1998 as Secretary of the Episcopal Church and Executive Officer of the General Convention.  Many of you met her on Annunciation when she was the preacher for the Solemn Mass.  Mother Sullivan has a demanding position which involves a great deal of travel.  But again, it is a great honor to have her sharing in the sacramental ministry of the parish when she is able.

I also want to introduce Eida Diaz who is our new membership assistant.  Eida’s primary job will be to maintain the new database system to which we are slowly converting with all the usual headaches this kind of computer system conversion entails.  The new system will enable us not only to do a

better job of keeping track of our own members but is also designed to help us meet the needs of newcomers and inquirers.  Eida’s position is at present twenty hours per week.  If you call when Eileen is at lunch and hear a new and friendly voice, it is probably Eida. 

I am writing this note to you on Saturday, April 28.  Tomorrow we will be welcoming an old friend of Saint Mary’s to the pulpit at 11:00 AM, the Reverend Peter Galloway, who first came to the parish in 1982 when he was a seminarian at Saint Stephen’s House, Oxford.  It has been personally delightful for me to get to know another one of the many great friends of the parish.  After the morning Masses I will catching a train to Washington to attend a class, “Leadership in Ministry”, that I have attended twice a year for many years now.  The class always begins with each of the twenty-five of so of us having a chance to tell the group briefly what’s been happening in their personal and professional world since we last met.  Regular readers of this newsletter will know that a lot is always happening at SMV.  I will return to the parish on Friday afternoon, May 4.

In catholic devotional tradition, May is the month of Mary.  At Saint Mary’s we mark this with a small ceremony to crown the image of our Lady at the end of the Solemn Mass on the first Sunday of the month.  Mary is special.  She is the mother of our Lord.  I think and believe that she loves us and cares for us and prays for us.  It’s really that simple. 

As the memorial service moves along into the lighting of candles, I notice the Paschal Candle prominently lit in the middle of the chapel.  I cringe and am secretly embarrassed by the apparent lack of liturgical sensitivity or plain common sense.  This is not particularly a Catholic liturgy, let alone Christian, to call for the lighting of the Paschal Candle.  And the Jewish guests are to deal with this Christian symbolism shoved in their faces, when it must be uncomfortable enough for them to deal with other permanent Christian symbolic fixtures in the chapel.  I hope that they think it’s just a beautiful, tall and expensive candle.  As Christ the Light of the World triumphantly glows, the service takes on a somber tone with the lighting of the six not-so-tall candles each commemorating one million Jewish victims of the Holocaust.  As long as we have the Paschal Candle lit, I ask myself again, “Can we, the Christians gathered for this service, see Jesus Christ as a possible place of reconciliation between Christians and Jews, at least for Christians?”  Despite my own ambiguity, the service ended on a note that was emotionally uplifting and moving for all.  There was a sense of satisfaction that we had participated in making a difference in the world, though small it may have been.

The first Wednesday evening class at Saint Mary’s was well attended with about twenty people in the room.  The class is designed to be as much a real dialogue as possible.  Rather than Rabbi Alder lecturing on various aspects of Jewish faith and tradition, the discussion is centered on scriptural passages.  In the first class the Garden of Eden story served as a springboard for dialogue.  We discussed how various Christian and Jewish traditions interpret the passage and got into such topics as Christian concepts of Original Sin, and Jewish notions of heaven and sin.  The next class will look at the Binding of Isaac (Genesis 22) and discuss more in depth the “place of faith” in both traditions for concepts such as the Torah, covenant, sacrament and other topics.  The third class happens after participants are invited to attend a Shabbat service on Friday, May 4.  (6:30 PM at Brotherhood Synagogue, located on Gramercy Park South.)  This class will reflect upon that experience and will discuss topics concerning worship and ritual, music and liturgy.

In the Epistle reading for the Feast of Saint Mark, Paul admonishes the Ephesians to “speak the truth in love” and to grow into Christ.  Paul’s words are words of wisdom for us as we continue In Dialogue with Judaism.  The truth rooted in love, particularly rooted in the love of God, is not only universal, but also is welcoming and hospitable to conversation, open and respectful to differences, and understanding and forgiving of each other’s limits and mistakes.  In so doing, we grow deeper into Christ and become more mature Christians.  Please join us.


PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Beatrice and Seymour who are hospitalized, Jack, Nolan, Harold, Olga, Carl, Harold, Frank, Eleanor, John, Barbara, Roy, Peter, John, Jonathan, Bill, Melanie, Joe, Elwyn, Shirlah, Joyce, Daisy, Karen, Michael, Kenneth, Ursula, Jessica, Gayla, Rodney priest, Charles priest and Arthur priest . . . The parish office received news this week that Russell Bagley will be undergoing surgery in May.  When Russell lived in New York he was a very active member of Saint Mary’s and served on the board of trustees as Treasurer.  Those who would like to send him a card or note can mail it to him at 4 Corners East, 307 North Street, Bennington, Vermont 05201 . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . May 3: 1947 Rachael Howland, May 4: 1995 Alexandrina Hunte, May 5: 1965 Elizabeth Perrigo.

LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Acts 9:1-19a, Psalm 33:1-11, Revelation 5:6-14, John 21:1-14 . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, April 28 by Father Garrison and on Saturday, May 5 by Father Shin.


AROUND THE PARISH . . . Beatrice Norling remains at Hackensack University Medical Center.  Please continue to keep her in your prayers . . . The Rector will be away for the first part of the week, attending a “Leadership in Ministry” class April 30 through May 2.  After the class he will be able to spend several days with his family before returning to New York . . . Attendance last Sunday: 181.


WELCOME FATHER GALLOWAY . . . Our preacher this Sunday at the Solemn Mass will be the Reverend Peter J. Galloway, an old friend of Saint Mary’s.  Some may recall that Father Galloway was first at Saint Mary’s in 1982 as a seminarian.  Currently he is vicar of Emmanuel Church, West Hempstead, London. 


IN DIALOGUE WITH JUDAISM . . . Join Rabbi Daniel Alder and Father Thomas Breidenthal for this continuing series.  The class meets at 7:00 PM after Mass on Wednesday May 2 and May 9 in Saint Benedict’s Study.  On Friday, May 4, the class is invited to meet for Shabbat services at Brotherhood Synagogue on Gramercy Park South at 6:30 PM.




ABOUT THE EASTER SEQUENCE HYMN . . . Several people have remarked that they know it is Easter when they hear the great hymn, “Christians to the Paschal Victim,” known as victimae paschali.  At Saint Mary’s we sing this hymn each Sunday of Eastertide at the Gospel procession.  The musical form known as “sequence” developed from the sung alleluia verse just before the proclamation of the Gospel.  Gradually the alleluia was broken up into melodic phrases so that the singers could catch their breath, and by the 9th century words were added and phrases were added.  Since these sung verses were not strictly a part of the Mass, but followed from it, they were called “sequences” or “proses.”  Victimae paschali is one of the oldest sequence hymns, attributed to Wipo of Burgundy, c. 1030.  From this Easter hymn developed some of the first liturgical dramas and miracle plays of the Middle Ages.  This Sunday, notice especially how the various verses lend themselves to dialogue.  In fact, as the hymn appears in The Hymnal 1982, the verses are arranged in parts, by voice.  (When we include the hymn in our worship booklet, we delete the direction for singing in parts and all people are invited to sing all verses.)  As a drama, victimae paschali was performed before the Te Deum at Matins on Easter morning. 


Christians to the Paschal victim offer your thankful praises!

A lamb the sheep redeemeth: Christ, who only is sinless,

reconcileth sinners to the Father.

Death and life have contended in that combat stupendous:

the prince of life, who died, reigns immortal.


The Calendar of the Week


Sunday              The Third Sunday of Easter

Monday                                   Easter Weekday

                   Eve of Saint Philip & Saint James’ Day 6:00 PM

Tuesday                          Saint Philip & Saint James, Apostles

Wednesday                    Athanasius, bishop

Thursday                        Easter Weekday

Friday                            Monnica, mother of Augustine

Saturday                       Easter Weekday

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, The Reverend Rosemari Sullivan, assisting priests, The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.