FROM THE RECTOR: PATH OF LIFE
Many of the parish community remember the Reverend John Beddingfield who served here as curate before accepting a call to be rector of All Souls’ Memorial Church, Washington, D.C. For All Souls’ weekly announcements for June 29, 2014, he wrote a short and powerful essay, “Why Does Church Matter?” These words from the essay have continued to turn over in my mind:
I disagree with the cultural assumption that a personal spirituality and decent moral code is enough. It’s not enough for me, and looking around me, it doesn’t appear to be enough for many others. When I die, I want to see God. When my body dies, I want to be raised to new life and to take my new spirit-body or body-spirit with me to live eternally.
When I read those words, Sharon Singh, who died last Sunday afternoon, had already been admitted to hospice care. She was dying, and dying as a Christian, with faith and trust greater than the sickness that had taken hold of her body. Sharon was baptized and confirmed here. Her Christian faith reordered her very rich life. She comes from a large family. She had a wide and diverse circle of friends. When the Holy Spirit brought her to faith, she found the Lord whom she wanted to know.
I associate Sharon so much with her energy, her smile—her very smile, and the joy she found in serving at the altar. She was always in the sacristy! In these last few weeks it became hard for me to enter without thinking of her. She has been and will be a part of the lives of all who knew her.
As I write on Thursday afternoon, July 10, the funeral arrangements were announced this morning to the wider parish community. (The details follow in this newsletter.) Sharon’s countenance always overflowed with life. I know her death is so very hard for her parents and her family. I know it is hard for all who knew her. She has died. The person and her body that many of us knew has now been changed. With Father Beddingfield’s words, she is being raised to new life and taking a new spirit-body with her to live eternally.
Many people helped care for Sharon as her body was surrendering, but not without a fight, her mortal life. Deacon Anthony Jones, who serves at Saint John’s Church, Huntington, and at Saint Margaret’s Church, Plainview, in the diocese of Long Island was an enormous help to everyone these last few weeks. Some of you will remember him as a member of Saint Mary’s. After moving to Long Island, he was called by that diocese to ordained ministry. On behalf of this parish and the many members of Saint Mary’s who helped care for Sharon during these last weeks I want to thank him publicly for his friendship and his ministry.
I think it’s fair to say that not many people, even practicing Christians, associate Christianity with its core beliefs. If asked, I give this as the number-one belief Christians have: Jesus died and has risen. I give equal first credit to this: God is the Holy Trinity. But I know I start in my head and heart with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I am one of his flock, the flock that believes in the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me” (John 10:14).—Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Suzanne, Rasheed, Reha, Rebecca, Burt, John, McNeil, David, Sylvia, Rick, Jack, Linda, Arpene, Paulette, priest, and Harry, priest; and for the repose of the soul of Sharon Geeta Singh . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . July 13: 1931 Bertha Grossman.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR . . . are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The 12:10 PM Masses on Wednesday, July 16, and Wednesday, July 23, will not be sung while Mark Peterson is away from the parish on vacation . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, July 19, by Father Pace. Confessions will be heard on Saturday, July 26, by Father Gerth.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Sharon Geeta Singh died on Sunday, July 6, at Calvary Hospital Hospice, Bronx, New York. She was forty-one years old. Her body will be brought to the church on Friday, July 11, and will be reposed in the Chapel of Our Lady of Mercy. The family will be present from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM to receive visitors. The rite for the Reception of the Body will be prayed at 7:00 PM when the coffin will be closed. The church will open on Saturday morning at 8:00 AM. The funeral will be celebrated at 10:00 AM. Immediately following the service she will be buried in the graveyard of Saint Margaret’s Church, Plainview, New York. (A map and directions may be found here.) As we go to press, many people are mourning her death and many people are involved in preparations for the service. Sharon was baptized and confirmed here on All Saints’ Day, November 1, 2006. The Right Reverend Richard F. Grein, XIV Bishop of New York, was celebrant and preacher for the service. She was a devoted and faithful altar server. She will be dearly missed by family and friends. She fought with care and courage against the cancer that took hold of her body. May her soul, and the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . The monthly parish liturgical calendars for 2015, which list all of the commemorations and daily services through the year, have been posted on the parish web page . . . Many thanks to Gypsy da Silva for her help in proofreading in the parish office . . . Flowers are needed for all of the Sundays in July. If you would like to donate for a Sunday, please be in touch with Aaron Koch in the parish office . . . Sister Laura Katharine returns from vacation on Tuesday, July 15. Sister Deborah Francis begins her vacation that day. She returns to the parish on Tuesday, August 5 . . . Mark Peterson will be away from the parish on vacation from Monday, July 14. He returns on Monday, July 28. While he is away we welcome back Dr. David Hurd to play at the Solemn Masses . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 198.
FROM FATHER PACE . . . My youngest (of three sons) Mark Pace has returned from his overseas placement in Kuwait. Previously, Mark served in Afghanistan. Because he is now safe at home we will remove him from the prayer list. I thank all of you who kept Mark in your prayers so faithfully. Mark has reenlisted for another four years (he is soon to be promoted to the rank of sergeant) and will be stationed in Hawaii.—Jim Pace
MUSIC THIS WEEK . . . The study of congregational hymnody is a fascinating and well-documented one, but it tends to surprise most modern day church-goers. We’re told that real congregation singing began in the year 374 when Aurelius Ambrose, bishop of Milan, ushered in the practice of singing hymns. Pope Gregory I wrote a number of fine hymns in his time (c. 600), most notably the setting of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” Gregory is also responsible for what we call Gregorian chant. With the reformation and the denominational divisions that resulted, hymnody became more localized, often depending on existing melodies to accompany hymn texts. In England, Ralph Vaughan Williams made an exhaustive study of English folk song, often notating tunes for the first time. His practice was carried on by Gustav Holst and Elizabeth Poston, and many popular hymns are sung to these assembled folk tunes. Kingsfold was first discovered by Vaughan Williams. It appears in the 1906 English Hymnal to the text: “I heard the voice of Jesus say,” but we will sing it at Solemn Mass to the text: “When Jesus left his Father’s throne.” As a postlude to the service we will hear an improvisation on the tune by Charles Callahan (b. 1951), who served as director of music for the Roman Catholic Church of the Holy Family at the United Nations. At the ministration of Communion, we will hear tenor Chris Howatt sing “Simple Song” from Mass, the work that Leonard Bernstein wrote for the dedication of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., in 1971.—Mark Peterson
OUTREACH . . . We welcome donations of hand sanitizer; granola bars; applesauce, sold in small, plastic cups with peel-off tops; water; peanut butter and crackers; and other small items that can be packed in bags for distribution to those who are homeless . . . We continue to collect nonperishable food items for the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry. Please place your donations in the basket near the ushers’ table on Sunday mornings. You may also make cash donations.