The Angelus

Volume 13, Number 2


On Wednesday, December 8, 2010, the Right Reverend Mark S. Sisk, bishop of New York, will be present as celebrant and preacher for the celebration of our parish’s patronal feast, the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  It will be the one hundred fortieth anniversary of worship at Saint Mary’s.

In the Episcopal Church, the bishop of a diocese makes a formal visit to every congregation once every three years.  It is really great that the bishop’s “visitation” falls on the anniversary this year, especially since he has called for the election of his successor, though the canons do not require him to retire anytime soon.  I am personally very thankful he is able to be with us.  December 8 has been a big day for this parish since its inception.

The Church of St. Mary the Virgin was organized in 1868.  On December 8, 1870, the first service was held in its first and then new building at 228 West Forty-fifth Street, across Longacre, now Times, Square.  On December 8, 1895, the first service in our second and present church building was held – still, Longacre Square until 1904.  By 1895, Saint Mary’s was no longer a small chapel on a side street in a quiet “uptown” neighborhood.  But its ministry for the neighborhood, the city and the wider Church had not changed.  Saint Mary’s was founded to be a place for the renewal of congregational worship.

December is a month for three important anniversaries for the parish.  Again, on December 8, the first services in both of our church buildings were held.  On December 12, 1895, the present church was consecrated by the Bishop of New York, the Right Reverend Henry Codman Potter.  On December 19, 1898, the first rector of the parish, the Reverend Thomas McKee Brown, died in the rectory.  With December 12 and December 19 falling on Sunday this year, at the Solemn Masses there will be special remembrances.

We know little about the first service in the first church – probably a service of Morning Prayer and Sermon.  We know a great deal about the first service in the present church and about the consecration service four days later.  By 1895, Saint Mary’s was well known and the details of these services were widely reported.

Father Brown himself left few writings.  Much was written about him when he died.  The account of his death in the parish’s newsletter The Arrow is very moving.  What comes through in the many tributes to Father Brown after his death was his great work as a pastor.  Many things were important to him – the liturgical richness in the Episcopal Church for the last century owes much to his leadership.  But for those who knew him, his ministry was shaped by commitment to Christ and to people.  If you know this parish today, you know pastoral care by its clergy and people is at the heart of its common life.

As is our custom, the celebration of our patronal feast begins on the eve, Tuesday, December 7.  Solemn Evensong will be offered at 6:00 PM.  On December 8, Father Smith is celebrant for the 12:10 PM Mass and James Kennerley is playing a recital at 5:30 PM.  The Solemn Pontifical Mass will begin at 6:00 PM.  In addition to Bishop Sisk being with us, we will welcome the Reverend Sr. Eleanor Francis, C.S.J.B., as concelebrant.  It will be a great honor to have the superior of our resident sisters’ order with us on our anniversary.  By God’s grace, it should be a wonderful evening in every way.  I invite you to join us in person and, especially if you cannot be here, in your prayers.  Stephen Gerth


YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Carol, George, Alan, Wayne, Sharon, Chris, Averie, Lin, Tom, Ann, Mary, Joan, Paul, Cesar, Gerardo, Owen, Robert, Thomas, Edward, José, Daisy, Rolf, Gert, Rick, and Emil, religious; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially James . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . December 5: 1945 Annie Mabel Long; 1969 Byron George Clark; 1989 Lorelle D. Brownell Britt.


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 . . . Adult Forum this Sunday, December 5, at 10:00 AM “Bishop Anthony Bloom’s Beginning to Pray”: A brief introduction to a well-known work by a bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church in Great Britain.  Led by Father Jay Smith . . . Tuesday, December 7, Solemn Evensong, 6:00 PM . . . Wednesday, December 8, Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Solemn Pontifical Mass 6:00 PM, the Rt. Rev. Mark Sisk, bishop of New York, celebrant and preacher . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will not meet on December 8 . . . Father Smith will celebrate his twenty-first anniversary of ordination to the priesthood on Thursday, December 9 . . . Saturday, December 11, 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM, Advent Quiet Day, led by Father John Beddingfield.  Reservations to Father Smith:  . . . Father Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, December 4.  Father Smith will hear confessions on Saturday, December 11.


AROUND THE PARISH . . . George Handy fell during the Solemn Mass last Sunday.  He was taken to Roosevelt Hospital, where it was discovered that he had broken his right hip.  George’s hip was successfully repaired during surgery on Monday.  He began rehabilitation at Roosevelt on Wednesday and he is doing well.  We expect that George will be at Roosevelt for the next week or so.  Please keep him in your prayers . . . Parishioner Jane Lear has a wonderful blog on food and travel: Jane Lear. Writing on Food and Travel . . . We are delighted that the Right Reverend Frank T. Griswold, XXV Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, can be with us as celebrant and preacher for the 11:00 PM Procession & Solemn Mass on Christmas Eve . . . If you would like to sponsor, the receptions that follow Solemn Mass on Epiphany (January 6) or Candlemas (February 2), please contact the Finance Office, or speak to Father Smith . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 248.


MAINTENANCE AND REPAIRS . . . On the afternoon of Easter Day 2010, a few pieces of stone broke off and fell to the street.  No one was injured.  A sidewalk shed went up promptly.  I began making inquiries into the next steps.  The firm of Jan Hird Pokorny Associates, Inc. was recommended as the best firm for work on a building of our generation.  Working with them, the Board of Trustees commissioned a facilities survey of the exterior and interior fabric of the church.  The survey is now underway and we hope to know soon the scope of work that will be facing our community – probably for the next decade.  When we have their report, I will share their conclusions with you.  I expect the trustees will be forming a special task force to implement their recommendations.  Stay tuned . . . One major repair that cannot wait is the refurbishment of the western most entrance door of the church on West Forty-sixth Street.  It doesn’t close on its own; it needs to be repaired before winter.  The exterior of our building is landmarked.  We have contracted with Fifty Three Restorations, Inc. to restore these doors.  The work will start on Monday, December 6.  It is scheduled to be completed in two weeks (before Christmas!).  S.G.


FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . On the Second Sunday of Advent, the prelude at Solemn Mass is the chorale prelude on Nun Komm, der Heiden Heiland BWV 599 from the Orgelbüchlein by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750).  Music today is sung by Guadalupe Peraza, mezzo soprano, James Kennerley, tenor, and Matthew Barnson, baritone.  The setting of the Mass ordinary is Mass for Three Voices, which is attributed to John Taverner (c. 1490–1545).  At the ministration of Communion, the choir sings the motet Conditor alme siderum (“Creator of the stars of night”) to an anonymous setting from around 1400 . . .  On the Feast of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the 5:30 PM recital, I will play the Fantasy and Fugue on the chorale “Ad nos, ad salutarem undam”, S.259, by Franz Liszt (1811-1886).  The setting of the Mass ordinary is Messe für zwei vierstimmige Chöre (“Mass for Double Choir”) by Frank Martin (1890-1974).  Martin, a greatly respected Swiss composer, completed this work (his only unaccompanied choral work) in 1922 and 1926.  It was not performed, however, until 1963 – Martin kept the manuscript locked in his desk drawer – due to his perception that it stood as a manifestation of his own devout faith rather than a piece to be heard publicly.  At the ministration of Communion, the choir sings the motet Bogoródyitse Dyévo, a setting, in Church Slavonic, of the familiar Ave Maria text.  The work is the fifth movement of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s (1873-1943) Vespers, Opus 37, where it stands as a tribute to Theotokos (“God Bearer” - the Orthodox name for Mary).  James Kennerley


STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN 2010-2011 . . . We continue to make progress:  as of December 1, we have received pledges from 118 households.  Of those households, 13 are pledging for the first time or have begun to pledge again after some time away from the parish.  39 households have been able to increase their pledges over last year’s level, a statistic that is particularly inspiring in these difficult economic conditions.  $335,446.00 has been pledged to date, which is 73.9% of what the Budget Committee hoped we might achieve during this year’s campaign.  All of this is good news.  We still have a ways to go, however.  We have received pledges from only 57.4% of the households that pledged during last year’s campaign.  We very much hope that by year’s end we will have received pledges from every household that pledged last year.  If you are worried about finances or about your ability to fulfill your pledge, understandable concerns in these difficult times, please note the very encouraging news in these statistics: we are just 26% short of our goal!  In these circumstances, every pledge makes a difference.  Every pledge matters.  Every single gift, no matter its size, brings us closer to our goal!  Please join those who have already made a pledge and help us to continue our ministry to our members, our friends, and to the Times Square community.  We are very grateful to all those who continue to support Saint Mary’s so faithfully and so generously.  Jay Smith


WHY I LOVE SAINT MARY’S . . . As part of our 2010-2011 Stewardship Campaign we continue our series, “Why I Love Saint Mary’s.”  This week we hear from Gypsy da Silva.  Gypsy is a friend of the parish who works in the neighborhood and is a member of our noonday congregation.  She writes, “Why do I love Saint Mary’s?  Here are just a few of the reasons.  Many years ago, I was invited to lunch by the priest then my rector.  He wanted me to meet a friend of his, a retired bishop.  In a touchingly humble voice, the bishop asked about a woman he had confirmed: ‘Is she faithful?’  That question has been, ever since, one I ask myself: “Am I faithful?”  One of the reasons I love Saint Mary’s is that by its faithful offering of the daily offices and daily Mass, I am given a wonderful opportunity to be faithful.  And so, too, are many, whether parish regulars or visitors from near and far. When I applied to become an Associate of the Order of the Holy Cross, I had to write a rule of life.  My rule includes attendance five days a week at the Midday Office and Eucharist, a privilege I enjoy and a promise I can keep because Saint Mary’s is just a block and a half away from my office.  Another reason I love Saint Mary’s is that the sermons I hear always give me something nourishing to ruminate.  And then there are the serendipities – enjoying the friendship of Saint Mary’s regulars and making other new friends, among them a Brazilian who is a pilot for Air India.  His first flights were from his hometown to my dad’s!  Sunday mornings I attend the Church of Saint Edward the Martyr, and I think of it as my ‘Martha church’, because there I am sometimes ‘distracted with much serving’ (see Luke 10:40–42).  Saint Mary’s is my ‘Mary church’.  I pledge time, talent, and treasure to both, grateful for the blessings I enjoy at Saint Edward’s and at Saint Mary’s.”  Gypsy da Silva


NEWS FROM THE COMMUNITY OF ST. JOHN BAPTIST . . . All religious communities in the Episcopal Church have a “Bishop Visitor”, and we have a new one.  He is the Right Reverend Prince Singh, bishop of Rochester.  For ten years, Bishop Herbert Donovan, assisting bishop in the Diocese of New York, has filled this role of providing oversight and pastoral care.  Bishop Singh was installed on Saint Andrew’s Day.  And, I want you to know also our superior, the Reverend Sr. Eleanor Francis, C.S.J.B., will be in residence with us in the Mission House from Tuesday, December 7, until Monday, December 13.  It will be great to have her with us.  Sr. Laura Katharine, C.S.J.B.


ADVENT QUIET DAY . . . On Saturday, December 11, Father John Beddingfield will be returning to Saint Mary’s to lead a quiet day.  John will offer three meditations during the day, which begins at 10:00 AM and ends at 3:00 PM.  Those attending are invited to celebrate the Eucharist together at noonday.  Coffee and tea will be served in Saint Joseph’s Hall beginning at 9:30 AM and a simple lunch will be provided following Mass.  Please send an e-mail to Father Jay Smith at if you think you would like to attend so he can make plans for lunch.  Father Beddingfield was sponsored for ordination by this parish; he worked here as the parish administrator before his ordination and as curate thereafter.  We are very happy, and grateful, that he has agreed to be with us in December.


DECORATING FOR CHRISTMAS . . . The Flower Guild will be working to decorate the church on Thursday, December 23, 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, and on Christmas Eve, Friday, December 24, 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM.  If you are able to help, please come and join them.  It’s a lot of fun and it’s a great way to get ready for Christmas.  For more information, please speak to José Vidal, Marie Rosseels, or Rick Austill.  You are very welcome just to show up and help.


CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . Adult Forum will not meet between Sunday, December 12, and Sunday, January 9.  The forum resumes on Sunday, January 16, when parishioner, Professor Robert Picken, will begin a three-part series (January 16, 23, and 30) on the history of Christian mission.  The title of the series is “Matteo Ricci and The Great Encounter.”  Professor Picken will discuss the following topics: the arrival of Western intellectuals in China, when Jesuit missionaries went to that nation at the end of the sixteenth century; the initial success of those missionaries; the Chinese-rites controversy; and the failure of the China mission in the eighteenth century.  The implications for a modern-day theology of mission will be discussed . . . Father Jay Smith will lead a five-part series on The History of the Bible in English (February 6, 13, 20, 27, and March 6) to mark the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Version of the Bible . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet on December 1 and 15 and on January 5.  Those classes will be led by our seminarian Rem Slone.  The sisters will return to the Bible study class on Wednesday, January 19, 2011.


OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . We are continuing to collect toys and other gift items that will be donated to the New York Foundling Hospital . . . We are now collecting new or very lightly used and well-laundered coats for the New York Cares Coat Drive, which runs from December 1-31 . . . Sunday, November 28, Saint Joseph’s Hall, Book Sale.  All proceeds are used to benefit those in need . . . We also continue to collect non-perishable food items for the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry.  Please look for the basket in the back of the church or in Saint Joseph’s Hall.  Jay Smith


CONCERTS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Saturday, December 11, 8:00 PM & Monday, December 13, 8:00 PM: Voices of Ascension: Christmas Concert, Dennis Keene, artistic director . . . Saturday, December 18, 8:00 PM, New York Repertory Orchestra.  Annual NYRO Benefit Concert...and the 100th birthday of Samuel Barber.  David Leibowitz, music director & Eric Jacobsen, cello.  Music by Barber, Schumann, and Rimsky-Korsakoff.  For information and to purchase tickets:, 212.662.8383 or . . . Saturday, January 22, 8:00PM: The Early Music Series of the Columbia University’s Miller Theatre.  Songs from the Island Sanctuary: Sequentia, Benjamin Bagby, director.  A musical portrait of life in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, circa 1200.


AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . At the New York Public Library, Fifth Avenue and Forty-second Street, Exhibition: “Three Faiths: Judaism, Christianity, Islam”.  Until February 27, 2011 . . . Concert: “The Spirit of Old Russia,” Russian choral music.  Saturday, December 4, 8:00 PM, the Church of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, 552 West End Avenue.




The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector
The Reverend James Ross Smith, curate
The Reverend Rebecca Weiner Tompkins, deacon
The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus


Saint Mary’s Mission House
Sister Deborah Francis, C.S.J.B.
Sister Laura Katharine, C.S.J.B.
The Community of St. John Baptist


The Parish Musicians
Mr. James Kennerley, organist and music director
Mr. Lawrence Trupiano, organ curator


The Parish Staff
Mr. Aaron Koch, business manager

Mr. Miguel Gonzalez, Mr. Mario Martinez, Mr. H. Antonio Santiago, sextons