FROM THE RECTOR: CITIES OF FORTUNE
Gertrude Stein famously wrote of her native Oakland, California, “There is no there there” (Everybody’s Autobiography  289). But I’ve been to Oakland, and there’s very much a there there. I spent two months living in downtown Oakland while I was on sabbatical in 2009. The city is full of beautiful and remarkable buildings and neighborhoods, full of potential. It’s on the San Francisco Bay. It’s well-connected by the Bay Area Rapid Transit system. Sadly, it’s one of too many American cities that lost its way in the middle of the twentieth century. It’s surprising to me that it hasn’t found its way back.
Stein’s remark might more accurately have been made about Venice, Italy. Robert Crowley’s City of Fortune: How Venice Ruled the Seas (2011) is the story of the city without land, only a marsh and the need to trade even to feed itself. Crowley chronicles its common life from about the year 1000 to the year 1500. It’s a good read. Venice found its place in the world in the time between the rise of Islam and the Portuguese discovery of the sea route around the horn of Africa. It fought other Italian cities, notably Genoa, for primacy in the Mediterranean trade between east and west. Venice made money and its gold coin was the standard currency of its day for centuries.
Over and over again in Crowley’s account I was struck by the fragility and richness of the human enterprise. Most human beings are indeed born with the ability to do what they need to do to survive. But even the very greatest of us leave very little behind. Whatever markers we make or find of lives lived—buildings, books, wars, whatever—never compass the entirety of human living. It’s truly beyond description.
I’ve been to Venice twice. I certainly hope to go again, more than once. Venice was the product of an age of faith; its churches are prominent in every corner of it, even if many of those churches know few worshipers today. Despite all the challenges of our time, there or here, faith remains alive, even as historic institutional structures of faith, there and here, continue to decline.
Even before I moved to New York to serve at Saint Mary’s, the idea of a city was important for me. My own life was shaped in part by the decline of another American city, Norfolk, Virginia—and by the flight to suburban areas there and outside of Washington D.C. which my parents joined. I remain a great fan of Mark Helprin’s novel Winter's Tale (1983) set in New York City. The city, the island of Manhattan, whose waters form its walls, is the place where the struggle between good and evil takes place. The messiness of cities is a lot like the messiness of family life. It’s the place where we work out our relationship to God and to others. Churches like ours can and should be a part of that working out.
Last Sunday afternoon I, along with millions of New Yorkers, went to see the Pride Parade. It was a beautiful summer day. No one could miss the extraordinary diversity of people who came out to enjoy and support the community. (I even saw a conservatively clothed Muslim woman with a camera taking pictures of men (a son?) along the way.) But I was sad to see so many churches closed—and I do appreciate the problems of managing open doors. I remain convinced that among the most important witness of our churches in the city is open doors to a visible place of prayer.
As Christians our city of fortune is not here, but with the one who is risen. The last book of the Bible, as you know, ends with the vision of the heavenly city, New Jerusalem. We cannot go back in time, we can only go forward. The Holy Spirit has not stopped speaking in your life or in mine. There is a there there planned for all of us, eternal life, with those we love and those we do not know, who are one in Christ. Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Angeline, George, Ben, Anna, Jeanne, Wayne, Barbara, Joseph, Jan, James, Arpene, Gail, Helen, Joyce, Betty, Sharon, Chandra, Dorothy, James, priest, and Harry, priest . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . July 1: 1875 William B. Pancoast; 1914 Edward Apthorpe Bibby; 1932 Mary Agnes McCorkiel; 1934: Henrietta Elise Ruggles; 1934 John Rathbone Ruggles, Jr.; 1936 Aida Virginia Harrison Dobbin; 1948 Elizabeth Harvey Higman; 1965 Florence Brackett; 1993 r. Tyler Gatchell.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Brother Richard Jonathan Cardarelli, SSF, priest, died on Friday, June 22. He was sixty years old and in the ninth year of his religious profession in the Society of Saint Francis. At the time of his death, Brother Richard Jonathan was the Society’s vocation director and novice guardian. Ordained a priest in the Roman Catholic Church, Brother Richard Jonathan had long ministered to the members of the lesbian and gay community and had worked for the rights of LGBT people. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.
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 . . . Friday, June 29, Saint Peter & Saint Paul, Apostles, Mass 12:10 PM & Sung Mass 6:00 PM . . . The parish office will be closed on Wednesday, July 4, in observance of Independence Day . . . On July 4 the church will be open from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. The noonday services will be offered . . . Father Jim Pace will hear confessions on Saturday, June 30. Father Jay Smith will hear confessions on Saturday, July 7.
SAINT MARY’S AIDS WALK TEAM . . . As of the fundraising deadline, June 15, Saint Mary’s Team registered 13 walkers and raised $19,418.50. The team was #23 of the 3,400 teams who participated. Thanks and congratulations to all who walked and to all who gave. This was an outstanding effort!
AROUND THE PARISH . . . During the summer months we often experience cash-flow problems here at Saint Mary’s. We would urge all the members and friends of the parish to stay current with their pledge payments at this time of year, since the bills continue to arrive in the mail, summer or not! We thank you for your generosity. If you would still like to make a pledge for 2012, please contact the finance office . . . Father Pete Powell’s daughter, Melissa Powell McInerney, gave birth to a daughter, Claire Elise McInerney, on Sunday, June 24. Melissa is married to John McInerney; she is an assistant professor of economics at the College of William and Mary. Claire is Melissa and John’s second child. Father Powell reports that both mother and daughter are doing well . . . Donations are needed for altar flowers for all the Sundays in July; and for August 5, August 15, and August 19. If you would like to donate flowers on one of those dates, please contact the parish office . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 208.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The organist at the Solemn Mass on Sunday is Mr. Mark Peterson. I will be away on vacation. Mark is a member of the parish and is associate music director and organist at the Reformed Church of Bronxville. The prelude is the Larghetto from the Pastorale in F, BWV 590, by J. S. Bach (1685–1750). The cantor is Mr. Daniel Neer, tenor. At the ministration of Communion, he sings the motet “Come thou fount of every blessing” set to the tune Nettleton. The text of the motet was composed by English Baptist Robert Robinson (1735-1790), and is sung, unaccompanied, to the tune by American composer and printer John Wyeth (1770-1858). James Kennerley
SAINT MARY’S IN CENTRAL PARK . . . Parishioner Grace Bruni is leading an expedition of Saint Marians to Central Park to picnic in style and to hear the New York Philharmonic on the Great Lawn on Friday, July 13, and on Monday, July 16. These free concerts, which begin at 8:00 PM, feature works of Tchaikovsky and Respighi (July 13) and Lyadov, Tchaikovsky, and Brahms (July 16). You can meet Grace in the Park in the late afternoon or travel uptown to the Park after Evening Prayer here at Saint Mary’s. For more information, or to get a cell-phone number so you can locate the Saint Mary’s group on the day of the concert, please contact Grace via e-mail.
SAINT MARY’S WOMEN’S GROUP . . . Please join the members of the Saint Mary’s Women’s Group on Wednesday, July 11, for a visit to the Rubin Museum to see the current exhibit, "Illuminated: the Art of Sacred Books" and, afterwards, for a visit to the High Line park for those who care for a stroll. The group will gather at 6:00 PM in front of the museum, at 150 West 17th Street (between Sixth and Seventh Avenues). All women of the church are cordially invited to attend. Please feel free to bring a spouse, friend, or child, if he or she is interested! Email email@example.com or contact the church office to RSVP. We need your reservation for this event by Monday, July 10.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . Major Feasts in July: Monday, July 23, Saint Mary Magdalene; Wednesday, July 25, Saint James the Apostle . . . Major Feasts in August: Monday, August 6, The Transfiguration of Our Lord; Wednesday, August 15, The Assumption of Mary; Friday, August 24, Saint Bartholomew the Apostle.
HOSPITALITY AT SAINT MARY’S . . . If you would like to make a donation to help cover the costs of the reception on August 15, please contact the parish office. We are also happy to receive donations to support our hospitality efforts on Sunday morning!
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . We continue to collect non-perishable food items for the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry. Please consider making a regular donation to the Food Pantry. Look for the basket in the back of the church or in Saint Joseph’s Hall. You may make a cash donation as well. If you would like more information about how the Food Pantry works or if you would like to volunteer, please contact Sister Deborah Francis, C.S.J.B., or Father Jay.
AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . Bill W.: A documentary film about the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, at the Quad Cinema, 34 West 13th Street, 212.255.2243, www.quadcinema.com. Visit the theater website or call ahead to make sure that the movie is still playing at the Quad, since the schedule changes week to week, apparently without a great deal of advance notice.