FROM THE RECTOR: SISTERS AND BROTHERS
Sunday we will welcome the Right Reverend Geralyn Wolf, XII Bishop of Rhode Island, as celebrant and preacher at the Solemn Mass. It’s the last Sunday of the church year, usually called the Feast of Christ the King. I look forward very much to this Sunday every year. There’s always a great gospel lesson. The last hymn at this Mass is “Lo! he comes, with clouds descending.” It is probably the greatest hymn moment of the year at Saint Mary’s.
I met Bishop Wolf’s sister, your sister and my sister, last week at Saint Vincent’s School for the Handicapped, Port-au-Prince, Haiti. When I first saw her she was on her bed in the dormitory. Father Sadoni Léon, headmaster of the school, introduced me. She is a remarkable child of God. Of course, she wasn’t our only sibling I met.
I was in Haiti with Elizabeth Lowell, development director of the Episcopal Church, and two of her colleagues. Elizabeth had met her on earlier visits. I knew looking at our young sister that she did not have a right arm; because of the shawl wrapped around her, I didn’t know until Elizabeth whispered to me that our sister also had no left arm. As we left the dormitory, she went back to what she was doing when we entered: ironing her dress with her right foot—she does everything with her feet.
Before we left Saint Vincent’s we spoke with her again in the courtyard. She was in the dress she had ironed. To say she is happy and has an ebullient personality only begins to describe her. I am glad Elizabeth had warned me—very gently—that a visit to the school often made grown men cry. I think I was able to keep my tears from flowing for one reason: everywhere I looked there were children full of joy, full of life. I just can’t begin to convey how much real joy I saw from observing children who were largely entirely unaware of our presence.
I was in Haiti because Saint Mary’s is going to need to raise a bunch of money to fix the façade of the church and to provide accessibility, among other things. I went because, since the time of the New Testament, Christians don’t just raise money for their local congregation. Elizabeth has been a friend of Saint Mary’s for many years. I reached out to her after the scaffolding went up across the Forty-sixth Street façade of the church during Easter Week 2010, just a few months after the devastating earthquake hit Haiti. The Episcopal Church community there was not spared. Elizabeth knew Saint Mary’s was the kind of parish that would want to be involved.
Some of you may remember our outreach to a parish in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, that began with a mission trip in 2005 by Father John Beddingfield when he served here. From 1940 until 1964 Saint Mary’s supported a missionary priest in the Philippines. The Reverend Clifford E. Barry Nobes survived internment by the Japanese during the Second World War. Because of the work of the Episcopal Church in Haiti, I think we have an opportunity to renew this work, a place where our relatively small gifts can make an enormous difference.
The Episcopal Church arrived in Haiti in 1861, under the leadership of the Reverend James Theodore Holly, who was ordained bishop of Haiti at Grace Church, New York City, on November 18, 1874. Bishop Holly was the first African-American to be ordained bishop in the Episcopal Church.
Saint Vincent’s School was founded in 1945 by Sister Joan Margaret of the Society of Saint Margaret. It was the first, and remains the largest, school for blind and disabled children in Haiti. Here is a link to a page on our church’s website about the school. I invite you to watch the short video. The first voice you will hear is the voice of our own bishop, Andrew Dietsche.
Today, in the wreckage of the 2010 earthquake that devastated—the verb hardly begins to capture the suffering and destruction—the country, we can be very proud that our church’s development office is leading the way to rebuild this great school. With almost no resources, overcrowded in the remaining and new temporary buildings, Saint Vincent’s is bursting with love, life, teaching, and hope.
I was in Haiti for six days, five nights, November 8 through November 13. I felt privileged to be there with Elizabeth and her colleagues, Victoria Manley and Karen Wibrew, new members of the development office staff who were making their first visit to that country too. The days were emotionally and physically draining for all of us. It was an experience of tragedy beyond words and, at the same time, of Christian faith and hope. Our parish is not large or rich, but I bear witness to you that the riches with which we are blessed can do more for others than I could have imagined before my visit.
At the board meeting on Monday, November 17, I asked the board to make a commitment that we will tithe, that is, give ten percent, of whatever gifts we receive for the forthcoming capital campaign as the money comes in. In other words, Saint Vincent’s will receive its gifts before we spend any of your gifts on ourselves. A motion was made; it carried unanimously.
By happy coincidence, the Reverend Brenda Husson, rector, Saint James’ Church, New York City, and a group from Saint James’ were in Haiti at the same time. A member of Saint James has made a gift that will build the new school. The development office is working very hard to make it happen. You and I can help provide things that are also needed.
There were many surprises for me in Ayiti—the Haitian Creole name and spelling for Haiti. If I can put aside for a short moment the heartache of the needs there, I want you to know how thankful and proud I am to be an Episcopalian.
This Sunday’s gospel is Jesus’ vision of the Son of man coming in glory to judge the nations (Matthew 25:31–46). This gospel is deep in my soul. I was ten or eleven when I remember being aware of the reality of hunger for the first time. At some point in my life, when I really heard this gospel, a place in my soul was ready for Jesus’ words, “I was hungry and you gave me food.”
One afternoon my mother put me and my younger sister and brother in the car so she could deliver groceries to some very poor people who lived in shacks without running water, not so far from where we lived. I’m sure it wasn’t the first time she had done this, but this time I was old enough to understand what she was doing: she was helping to feed people. My mother explained that she had heard from our church that they had no food and had gone to bed hungry the night before.
I was old enough to wonder how it was possible for God to let people be hungry. I remember crying and my mother comforting me because I didn’t understand. As a Baptist boy I knew the scripture, “Ask, and it shall be given.” I didn’t understand then, I don’t understand now, why anyone anywhere goes to bed hungry.
I look forward to returning to Haiti. I hope that when I go some of you will be able to go with me and that we will have many things to share. I’m also not going without some special soccer balls, the “One World Futbol”—they stay inflated; they don’t need air—for each of the schools I visit. Again, there were joyful children everywhere. Seeing that is like going down to the Jordan and being washed to new life.
One of things I picked up quickly at the schools we visited was how universal the gesture of “thumbs up” is in Ayiti—after realizing the children used it, I realized everyone else did too. Maybe at the last day, instead of the words, “As you did it to the least of my sisters and brothers, you did it to me,” the Lord will simply look at you and me and show us his thumb up, with a smile, as children did for us as we left the schools of our sisters and brothers.—Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR David, Don, John, Barbara, Jake, George, Francesca, Pat, Peggy, Mazdak, Babak, Celia, Claude, Pauline, McNeil, Richard, Takeem, Rick, Esteban, Linda, Arpene, Paulette, priest, and Harry, priest; and for all the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Matthew . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . November 23: 1897 George H. Blanchard; 1901 Frederick T. Hoyt, Jr.; 1934 Caroline Francis Melville
Melville; 1968 Christopher J. Cliffcorn; 1976 Calvin R. Gray; 1985 Gary R. Grubb.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR . . . are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
STEWARDSHIP 2015 . . . Sunday is Commitment Sunday! If you have not made a pledge for 2015, we urge you to join us on Sunday morning and to place your pledge card in the collection basket at the Offertory during Mass . . . As of Wednesday, November 19, we have received pledges from 88 households. $268,858.00, 63.3% of our $425,000.00 goal has been pledged to date. If you have questions about pledging, please speak to a member of the Stewardship Committee (MaryJane Boland, Steven Heffner, or Marie Rosseels). You may also call the finance office to discuss your pledge. The staff will be happy to fill out a pledge card for you. If you have already returned your pledge card, we thank you. If you have not done so yet, we ask you to seriously and prayerfully consider how you can support the mission of the parish. Our needs are many; many of you have expressed a desire to maintain and even expand our presence and ministry in Times Square. That can only happen if all of our members and friends support that ministry.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . November 23, The Last Sunday after Pentecost: Christ the King and Commitment Sunday, Sermon by the Rt. Rev. Geralyn Wolf . . . Wednesday, November 26, Eve of Thanksgiving Day, Sung Mass 6:00 PM . . . The Wednesday Evening Bible Study Class will not meet on November 26 . . . Thursday, November 27, Thanksgiving Day, the church opens at 10:00 AM and closes at 2:00 PM. The parish offices are closed, and only the noonday services are offered . . . November 30, The First Sunday of Advent . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, November 22, by Father Stephen Gerth, and on Saturday, November 29, by Father Jay Smith.
ADVENT QUIET DAY . . . Saturday, December 6, 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM: Seeing Clarely: A Quiet Day based on Clare of Assisi, led by Father John Beddingfield. Clare of Assisi (1194–1253), friend and follower of Saint Francis, sometimes used the image of a mirror to express aspects of faithful living. Through prayer, words, and silence, our Quiet Day will gaze with Clare into various spiritual “mirrors” so that we might come to a deeper understanding of how to live as reflections of Christ. The day will include a simple lunch following the Noon Mass. We will conclude with a simple Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament at around 3:00 PM. Lunch and beverages are provided. A freewill donation to cover the costs of the day may be offered. Please RSVP if you would like to attend so that we can make plans for lunch.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . On November 14–15, the parish clergy and the parish’s lay representatives, Steven Heffner and Mark Risinger, attended the diocesan convention in Tarrytown, New York. Information about the convention is now available online . . . Parishioner Barbara Klett was recently hospitalized after falling on a New York City sidewalk. Barbara would like to express her gratitude to all those—parishioners, friends, and members of the clergy—who sent cards, flowers, called or visited her in the hospital or rehab unit during her recent illness. She very much appreciates such kindness . . . Flowers are needed for Sundays in January. We also hope to receive donations to defray the costs of the reception following the Solemn Mass on December 8. If you would like to make a donation, please contact the parish office . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 218.
MUSIC THIS WEEK . . . The Missa Sine Nomine by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (c. 1524–1594) is one of six Mass settings that share that title, something that has caused more than a little confusion over the years. The Latin phrase sine nomine, which means “without a name,” was applied by Palestrina and other composers to works that were freely composed and not based on an existing motet or anthem. Guillaume Dufay, the great French composer (d. 1474), was the first to use this mode of naming, but others utilized it in an attempt to differentiate these free works from the many Mass settings that were parody works, or compositions based on a segment of an existing motet or even a secular song. The six-voice Missa Sine Nomine that we hear at the Solemn Mass on Sunday is a work of great scope and invention, and is one of the works of Palestrina that came to the attention of Johann Sebastian Bach. Bach was known for having avidly studied the Masses of Palestrina, but the six-voice Missa Sine Nomine was appropriated by Bach for careful revision and was given a continuo score that included parts for cornetti and trombones. In spite of Bach having devoted considerable time to this project, there is no evidence that he actually performed the Missa Sine Nomine within the context of liturgy. At the ministration of Holy Communion, we will hear a grand motet by Thomas Weelkes (c. 1576–1623), organist of Winchester and then Chichester Cathedrals, and one time chorister for the Chapel Royal. Alleluia, I heard a voice is a setting in five voices of text from the Book of Revelation.—Mark Peterson
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . Sunday, November 23, 10:00 AM, Mission House, Second Floor: The Gospel of John, led by Father Pete Powell . . . The Adult Education Class will not meet on November 30, the First Sunday of Advent, the Sunday following Thanksgiving Day . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will not meet on November 26. The class will resume on December 3 at 6:30 PM. The class, which is led by Father Jay Smith, is normally held in Saint Joseph’s Hall, 145 West Forty-sixth Street. On December 3 we will begin our reading at chapter 7. The class will not meet on December 17, 24, or 31 . . . Sunday, December 7 & 14, 10:00 AM, Adult Education Class: The Veneration of the Saints, Parishioners discuss the veneration of the saints in their own lives, with a particular focus on saints who were women, as a way of beginning our study of the role of women in early and medieval Christianity.—Jay Smith
OUTREACH . . . We continue to collect nonperishable items for our friends and partners at the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry. Cash donations are also most welcome . . . The spread of the Ebola virus in Liberia and in other parts of West Africa has been rapid in recent months, and, according to recent news reports, the numbers of those affected continues to mount. We have received requests from Liberian clergy working in our diocese to publicize ways that New York Episcopalians can help. You may visit the website of the Liberian Episcopal Community USA (LECUSA) to obtain more information.
VISUAL ARTS PROGRAM . . . The art of Teofilo Olivieri can now be seen in the gallery in Saint Joseph’s Hall. Teofilo is a “street artist,” who often works with paint on the covers of used or remaindered hardcover books. His current works feature delicate silhouettes of a wide variety of birds and animals. Each work is unique (and quite affordable!). Teofilo has struggled with homelessness in the past; he is a working artist who sells his creations in order to make a living. He, and his work, can often be seen on the corner of Sixth Avenue and Twenty-third Street. This exhibition will have an official opening and reception in Saint Joseph’s Hall on Friday, December 5, at 7:00 PM. We hope that Teofilo will be able to be with us to talk about his work and to meet the members and friends of the parish.
CONCERTS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . December 6, 2014, 8:00 PM, New York Repertory Orchestra, David Leibowitz, music director. Music by Verdi, Vernon Duke, and Carl Nielsen. Admission is free. A $10.00 donation is requested . . . Saturday, December 13, 8:00 PM, The Tallis Scholars: Sacred Muses, music by William Byrd, Edmund Turges, and Josquin des Prez. This concert is part of the Miller Theater at Columbia University’s Early Music Series. Tickets may be purchased online.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . Friday, December 5, 7:00 PM, Visual Arts Project: Artist’s Talk and Reception in Saint Joseph’s Hall: The Work of Teofilo Olivieri . . . Sunday, December 7, 6:00 PM, Legacy Society Reception, following Evensong & Benediction at 5:00 PM . . . Monday, December 8, The Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Solemn Mass 6:00 PM . . . Monday, December 22, Saint Thomas the Apostle (transferred), Mass 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM.
AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . At the Museum of Biblical Art, 1865 Broadway at Sixty-first Street, October 17, 2014–January 11, 2015: Dürer, Rembrandt, Tiepolo: The Jansma Master Prints Collection from the Grand Rapids Art Museum: “Spanning five centuries of printmaking, this exhibition will feature the complete Jansma Collection, including works by Albrecht Dürer, Rembrandt van Rijn, Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo, Édouard Manet, and Max Pechstein, as well as a series of twenty-one engravings by William Blake, to underscore the Bible’s enduring influence on Western artists” . . . At the Metropolitan Museum (Gallery 608) and the Frick Collection, November 4, 2014–February 1, 2015, El Greco in New York: “To commemorate the four-hundredth anniversary of the death of El Greco, the Metropolitan Museum and the Hispanic Society of America are pooling their collections of the work of this great painter to provide a panorama of his art unrivaled outside the Museo del Prado in Madrid. The Frick Collection is displaying its paintings contemporaneously.” (The Met is at 82nd Street and Fifth Avenue. The Frick at 70th Street and Fifth Avenue.)