FROM THE RECTOR: CHARLES ARTHUR SCHAEFER, 1913–2014
Charles Arthur Schaefer died on Sunday morning, August 10, at Beth Israel Hospital. He was 101 years old. Born on March 19, 1913, in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, he came to New York City in 1945 after serving in World War II. While studying for his master’s degree, he was among the students Columbia University housed near Saint Mary’s. Brought up in the Lutheran Church, he discovered this parish and never left. He is survived by Donn Russell, his partner of 62 years, family in Pennsylvania and, if I may, this parish community. At the time of his death Charles Arthur had been formally an active member of the parish longer than anyone else.
He and Donn, an artist in various media, started going to Nantucket in the summer of 1965 and never stopped. In 1970 they were able to buy a cottage there. Charles Arthur’s body has been cremated. His ashes will be spread on the sea at Nantucket.
Father Grieg Taber was rector when “Arthur” Schaefer came to Saint Mary’s. It was Father Taber, Donn told me, who, in classic Anglo-Catholic fashion, decided Arthur should be called by his first and middle names, “Charles Arthur”—and that’s how I and almost everyone else in the parish today knows him. To Donn, his family and other friends he was always Arthur.
In 1999, my first year as rector, I asked him to be my guest for lunch. He told me he had lived through many ups and downs of this neighborhood—it’s worth stating that at this point he had been active in the parish for more than a half-century. He had been an altar server and, for a period, a parish employee. He was a member of the board of trustees when Father Wells was called to be rector in 1979. For all of the challenges this parish faced in these years, Saint Mary’s remained a holy and happy place for him. He loved the parish. He was not afraid of change. He smiled a lot—a small, sweet smile—and when he smiled his eyes seemed brighter.
For many years he was a regular at the Thursday Mass, where the anointing of the sick is offered. He sat in choir on the front row, epistle side. Eventually he was unable to come on his own, so Donn would come with him. On Sundays, he and Donn sat in the front row of the nave on the epistle side. I will always see him there. Quite honestly, when I see Donn in church, I will see Charles Arthur with him.
In May 2012 Troy Chatterton, a professional photographer, took a picture of an older couple crossing Christopher Street in Greenwich Village. The younger and taller man was gently leading the older and shorter man. It was Donn and Charles Arthur. It’s a beautiful photograph. We have a large print of it in the parish archive. It will be in the parish hall on Saturday, August 23, where we will gather after his funeral for refreshments.
Most of the people Charles Arthur had known through the decades of his life died before he did. But, Donn didn’t lose Arthur. We didn’t lose Charles Arthur, and we believe that in Christ we are closer to him now than ever before.—Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Donn, Suzanne, Reha, Rebecca, Burt, John, McNeil, David, Takeem, Sylvia, Rick, Jack, Linda, Arpene, Paulette, priest, and Harry, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty; and for the repose of the souls of Irene Hunte and Charles Arthur Schaefer . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . August 17: 1896 William Henry Noble; 1915 Elizabeth Barine Burt; 1919 Mary Rutledge; 1920 Lena Vetter; 1939 William Hasty Flint; 1946 Martin McCarrick; 1992 Elvira Merenda.
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 . . . Saturday, August 23, 10:00 AM: The Burial of the Dead for Charles Arthur Schaefer . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, August 16, by Father Pace and on Saturday, August 23, by Father Gerth.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Burt Abelson has returned to his own apartment from Hopkins Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare in Brooklyn . . . The parish’s board of trustees meets on Monday, August 18 . . . Father Jay Smith continues on sabbatical. He returns to the parish on Saturday, August 30 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 175.
MUSIC THIS WEEK . . . Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi (1813–1901) was an Italian romantic composer of great merit and one of two preeminent opera composers of the nineteenth century, the other being Richard Wagner. Verdi was not known as a man of faith nor did he compose for the church, but he did write three cycles of songs dealing with aspects of the Blessed Mother. On the death of compatriot Alessandro Manzoni, Verdi wrote his Messa da Requiem in 1874, a work now regarded as a masterpiece of the oratorio tradition and a testimony to his capacity outside the field of opera. At the ministration of Communion at Solemn Mass on Sunday we hear Verdi’s setting of Ave Maria, not in the text of the original prayer, but in a paraphrase ascribed to the poet Dante in Italian, not Latin. It is one of a set of pieces collected under the title Hymns in Praise of the Virgin Mary (1880) and was a prototype for the famed aria sung by Desdemona that was to appear in the final act of Verdi’s great opera Othello (premiered in 1887). Sharon Harms, soprano, a member of Saint Mary’s Choir, is our soloist and cantor today. The prelude and postlude are also by Italian composers, respectively, Ottorino Respighi and Tomaso Albinoni.—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.
Saint Cecilia Chamber Music Series
The Church of Saint Mary the Virgin
Monday Evenings in Saint Joseph’s Hall
Monday, September 8, 7:30 PM: Robert Cassidy, piano
This is the first recital utilizing our newly acquired Knabe Grand Piano.
In his only New York appearance, Mr. Cassidy will play works of
Mozart, Debussy, Brahms, and Noon.
Monday, November 17, 8:00 PM: Lucia Stavros, harp
Along with colleagues, she will play a program of works for solo harp
and ensemble pieces with flute and cello.
Monday, January 12, 2015, 8:00 PM: An Evening of Victor Herbert
Suzanne Woods, soprano; John Pickle, tenor; and
Boyd Mackus, baritone, will offer a program of favorites
from this master of the American operetta.
Monday, March 16, 2015, 8:00 PM: Art Song
Robin Frye, mezzo-soprano; Robert Mobsby, baritone;
and Douglas Drake, piano,
in a program of art song and treasured favorites.
Monday, May 18, 2015, 8:00 PM: May Daze
May Daze is a musical comedy by Peter Holbrook
on the life of Saint Cecilia, the patron saint of musicians and the bewildered.
It is presented in the tradition of the medieval miracle plays,
featuring singers from the Choir of Saint Mary’s.
This is a fund raising event with reception following.