president's day graphic
  February 2003

Click one of the headings below to read the article:

flame bullet character Father Michael flame bullet character "Serenade" Recital Season
flame bullet character Around the Parish flame bullet character Enid Mitchell
flame bullet character Vestry Notes flame bullet character Save the Date!
flame bullet character Serendipity    
flame bullet character Youth Activities    

Our Baptism Call

Several Sundays ago, on the Feast of The Baptism of Our Lord, we all participated in the baptism of Alayne Charlotte Gilbert, a beautiful little girl who most certainly made her presence known as our newest member of Christ’s Body. Between the baptism, all of us renewing our own baptismal vows and the gospel reading from St. Mark on that day I found myself being challenged within this community of believers by the urgency of the public ministry.

What struck me on this day is that the foundation of our Christian faith is that through Christ we meet God. Whatever happens for Christ Jesus happens for us. Thus the sky also opens for us, as it did during Jesus baptism, though much more subtly. God has something to say, calling us to look up, listen, and follow. It is so easy to get swept away in the daily routine. Yes, it is imperative that we must do what is urgent; however, sometimes we get so caught up in this sense of expediency that we lose the ability to have a criterion of assessing what issues are really important. Thus St. Mark’s gospel on that day, I believe, spoke to our community in a powerful way the critical nature of issues and our proper response to them are strongly suggested by the presence of the Spirit urging us in a particular direction.

The prophet Isaiah wrote to us who are under the same open heavens as is Christ Jesus: I have called you for the victory of justice. I have grasped you by the hand. I formed you and set you as a covenant of the people, a light for the nations (42:6).

Can we recommit ourselves as a community of baptized persons called to witness to the divine presence in the world? Are we called to the ministry of unity among the community of believers? Can we show, especially during these trying economic times, the faithfulness of God's love? Will we do the urgent work of the Good News? Do we allow the Spirit's urging to affect how we live the life of Christ: the life refracted in the great variety in the yearly remembrance of the saints? Yes, the sky does open over you and me, and a voice calls out, ? I have loved you with an everlasting love. I have called you, and you are mine. I believe that we who are together the church, are called to rededicate ourselves to the work of the gospel in the great and challenging matters of our time and the even greater issues of our daily exchange with one another. paragraph ending graphic

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Around the Parish

This month I would like to write a short profile about our wonderful choristers. You may not know the basics: we arrive on Sundays at 9:00 a.m., gather robe and collect the music that Maestro Sarff has put out for future practice, as well as the music for that day (which has been practiced for three weeks already.) Tom commutes by bus, train and ferry and another bus on the Staten Island side.

Our SOPRANO section (the higher female voices) carries the melody in most of the pieces that we do. Our soloist, Ann Sohm, has voice students and is also a student of Fr. John Walsted. She creates beautiful icons, one of which is displayed at the back entrance to the church. All of this is accomplished despite her bout with muscular dystrophy and the fact that she must walk with a cane. Bravo, Ann!

Valerie Quinlan is a noted solo violinist and has also played with orchestras locally and nationally. Valerie studied violin in Germany. She is also responsible for organizing the Christ Church Sunday Afternoon Concert Series which has featured some very wonderful vocal and instrumental performances over the years.

Ann Louderback lives just up the street from Christ Church - actually on Pendleton Place - so she has a very short commute. During the week she participates in a fitness regime at the YMCA on a daily basis. And she likes cats, too!

Beth McLean (formerly Beveridge) is a full-time instructor in sports at McKee High School. She also has four sons and keeps them very busy with healthy activities. It is rumored that her students have nicknamed her Mrs. McLean: Lean and Mean.

Shirley Black is the only female chorister in the Black family (except for her granddaughter, Eva Marie.) Shirley enjoys a good joke, and even though she has difficulty walking she's always helping at Church Fairs, different agencies, and does a lot of cooking at home and also at Christ Church when there are suppers or luncheons. Her lamb stew has become a tradition here at Christ Church on Maundy Thursday.

Vlasta Jantzi holds a Bachelor and Masters of Music from the Manhattan School of Music, major in Voice and minor in Piano. She is a winner of the Spoleto Singing Contest in Italy. Opera roles include Michaella in Bizet's Carmen at the Rome Opera Co.; NBC Opera Co. , NY. She sang in the production of Fidelio; in the Opera in the ROund at NY Carnegie Hall she sang the roles of Cherubino, Countessa, Daonna Elvira, Mimi, and Pamino. Vlasta was an adjunct professor of Graduate Studies in Music at the College of Staten Island and was Musical Specialist for NYC High Schools. Vlasta is also a member of the NY Singing Teachers Association and of St. Cecilia.

Nancy (Reiersen) Scromo is a ”Jill of all Voices” - she is able to sing both alto and soprano and does so wherever the need is greatest. She is one of the editors of the Tower Chimes, a member of the Altar Guild and the Vestry and is also a very calm and kindly person.

We miss Enid Mitchell very much. A staunch little lady from Belize, a teacher and a grandmother, who became an American citizen just a year ago. Her recent funeral service at Christ Church was attended by over 200 people.

Then there's me. I like to sit at the altar end of the front pew. From there I can see an inscription in memory of my late husband Irwin.

The ALTO section faces the sopranos. There aren't many of them, but they are valiant

Mae Seeley has been in the choir for many years. She is very active in volunteer work and stands on various committees on Staten Island.

Linda Reiersen has also been active in the choir for a long time. She was a teacher at Wagner High School, is also a co-editor of the Tower Chimes and a member of the Altar Guild. She and her husband, Hal, are also members of The Richmond Choral Society.

Janet Schneider has also put in a lot of years, as did her mother, Virginia Peel. And in addition to raising perfect children, Janet is a member of the nursing profession.

Shirley Elfers is quite a busy member of our parish. In addition to her long-time membership in the choir, she also serves as Altar Guild Directress, has been a tireless member of the Women of Christ Church, and serves on many other committees both here at Christ Church and in other local organizations.

Our TENORS (they are the men with the higher voices) are led by Jay Spadaro. Jay is the tenor soloist and has been in the choir for over 50 years - and probably knows the words to every hymn in the book!

Bill Beveridge is a lifetime member of the choir. Sundays wouldn't be the same without seeing his smiling face in the tenor section. His enthusiasm and musical abilities are quite an asset.

Hal Reiersen is also a strong tenor, and a soloist from time to time. He works in shifts - day and night - for the Bergen Light Line Railroad, and he usually comes into the rehearsal room telling us that it is now his Friday evening or Monday afternoon. He's always in a good mood!

Andre Black, son of Willie Black, Jr., is the young man who often wears his hair in braids. He is extremely creative - paints, writes poems, referees with his father and brother, and spends probably a third of his life at Staten Island Hospital. He was born with Sickle Cell Anemia and can tell immediately when he should be checking in. Even when he's bed bound in the hospital, he is creating drawings, poems and necklaces of beads which he sells at our Fairs. On bad days he gets where he wants to go by using a wheelchair. What a guy!

Last - but surely not least - are the BASSES. These are the men with the low, strong voices. Willie Black, Jr. (a/k/a Pappa Black) recently stepped down as Warden of the Vestry, but continues to head the Social Concerns Committee and coordinate all of the wonderful work that it does.

His oldest son, Willie “Buster” Black, III is the one you'll hear on the low, deep bass notes. When he's not in the choir, Buster keeps extremely busy coaching our church basketball league and serving as a scoutmaster with our Boy Scout troop.

Bill Brown is another faithful member of our choir, and has been singing at Christ Church since Jack Bainbridge was the director. It's quite unusual not to find Bill in his regular spot each Sunday.

And finally, there's David Seeley. David's musical talents have graced the tenor section for many years. He's quite enthusiastic about the music we perform and is a faithful member of the bass section.

We are blessed with our choir members and we hope that now you'll know us all just a little bit better. Thank you Father Michael, for your trust in our voices. paragraph ending graphic

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Vestry Notes

On Sunday, January 19, 2003 the Parish Annual Meeting took place in the auditorium, immediately following the 10:30 a.m. service. At that time, those present cast their votes to elect the following new Vestry members:

Warden (for a two-year term) – Nicholas J. Lettiere
Vestry persons (for a three-year term) – Trevor Mills, Leslie Shannon, William Sherman and Leslie Sullivan
Vestry person (for a two-year) term – Carol Brown

These new Vestry persons will take the place of outgoing Warden, Willie Black, Jr. and Vestry persons Marlene Elia, Glendon Jantzi, William Keck, Harold Reiersen and John Watson.

During the meeting Father Michael gave his annual address to the parish and spoke on the future of Christ Church. It was noted that Christ Church is involved many outreach projects to the community, but that more volunteers, especially in the areas of youth ministries and Church School, are needed to make these programs even more effective. Christ Church has taken on an even greater importance in the lives of the members of our parish, and the surrounding community, and this year we will lay the foundation for a Capital Funds Drive. Rick Boody, our Warden Emeritus, spoke of the importance of increasing our membership and helping to build up our Church School. For the second year in a row Father Michael presented three members of the parish with the Rector's Cross, in recognition of their hard work and efforts for the good of Christ Church. Recipients of this year's award included Connie Ricciardi, Richard Sigman and Nancy Reiersen.

Members of the Vestry meet on the second Monday of each month. Approved minutes of their meetings are posted on the bulletin board in the parish house for those wishing to review them. The next meeting is scheduled for Monday, February 10 at 7:30 p.m. paragraph ending graphic

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Serendipity Notes

Our January meeting was one of our busiest in quite a while. Not only did we sit down and plan our upcoming events for the next few months, but we also elected a new President and Secretary for the organization.

Gytha Bellaby will take up the reins as Serendipity president. She has successfully chaired two Spring Fairs in addition to her involvement on several Christ Church committees, and we're looking forward to an active season under her leadership. Gytha succeeds Marlene (“I love to cook”)Elia, who during her two-plus years as President, made the kitchen of Christ Church her second home, cheerfully cooking pasta and sauce, grinding out the Pancakes on “Fat Tuesday”, cooking a roast, or putting together the ingredients for a Chicken Pot Pie. Marlene has certainly helped to increase the size of our congregation in her own special way, and we are grateful for all of the hard work that she has put in to keep Serendipity going – and growing.

Colin Reed has been elected to take over the Secretary's position. Colin has a great eye for detail and a way with words. We'll be looking forward to his colorful recaps of our monthly meetings, in addition to carrying out the many wonderful plans and projects that he has recommended.

Here's a quick recap of what we've planned so far - grab your calendars and jot down these dates:

Sunday, February 23 - Soup & Sandwich Luncheon
(Following 10:30 a.m. service)
Featuring a wonderful selection of home made soups and sandwiches from the Serendipity kitchens. Suggested donation: Adults $6.00; Kids Under 12 - $3.00

Tuesday, March 4 - 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. . - ?
Fat Tuesday - Pancake Supper Staten Island's BEST pancakes and sausage! Suggested donations: Adults: $5.00; Family: $7.00. paragraph ending graphic

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Youth Activities

Our Youth Group has been quite busy - especially playing basketball in the CYO league. Buster Black is the coach of both the Junior High and Senior High teams and has been doing an excellent job. As of this writing, their record is 5-4 and 4-4, respectively. Please check the game schedule which has been posted on the bulletin board in the parish house. The team - and the coach - would really appreciate your support at the games. Our Youth Director, Lou Ranieri, has once again invited the “Meet the Met” program to Christ Church, which is held on Friday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. for five consecutive weeks. This is a wonderful opportunity for kids to experience the treasures of the Metropolitan Museum of Art first-hand. At the end of the five-week period, the kids take a field trip to the Museum to see the works that they've been studying. All of our young people are invited to share in the fun.

Plans are in the works for an ice skating party some time in the near future. Lou has also been working on a project with the Staten Island Institute of Arts and Sciences - look for further announcements when plans are finalized.

The time and place for our weekly activities are listed in the Sunday bulletin. Additional information can be obtained by calling the Parish Office at 727-6100 during the week. paragraph ending graphic

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"Serenade" Recital Season at Christ Church

To start the new year and a new season of music the Christ Church Concert Series has a new name - Serenade - which will be presenting classical music recitals for the parish and the surrounding community.

The first of four recitals will take place on Sunday, February 23 at 3:00 p.m. Violinist, Valerie Quinlan, will be the featured artist, joined by pianist Sandro Russo in two sonatas by Edvard Grieg. The program is free to the public, and will be followed by a ??Meet the Artists reception in the Guild Room.

Serenade will be presenting three more recitals throughout the year. They are:

Sunday, April 13 - Oleskiewicz-Schulenberg Duo - Harpsichord and Baroque Flute

Sunday, June 15 - Beth Johanning, soprano; Richard Lewis, baritone; Famous Operatic Duets

Sunday, September 14 - Sachiko Hasegawa, piano

This year Serenade has received major funding from the Staten Island Bank & Trust Foundation. The programs are made possible (in part) by an Encore Grant from the Staten Island Council on the Arts and Humanities (COAHSI) with public funding from the New York State Council on the Arts. An additional grant has been given to Serenade by the Richmond County Savings Foundation.

We are grateful to these organizations for their grants which will allow Serenade to welcome members of our parish and our community to free musical events designed to provide musical enrichment to all who attend. paragraph ending graphic

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Enid Mitchell

On December 31, 2002, our parish family was saddened by the passing of Enid Mitchell, a woman who was diminutive in frame but powerful in her beliefs. Enid meant a great deal to many members of Christ Church, and her presence here had an effect on all of us.

Father Michael's Homily for Enid's Requiem Mass was entitled “The Complete Life,” and the title itself says so much about this wonderful lady. “She was one of those wonderful people in our world who possess a huge heart that has room for everyone.” Enid’s demands were simple but honest, and she didn't ask for anything that she herself would not be willing to do for another person. Enid was not shy about her faith – “she knew each day of her life that she was blessed, and not only did she tell us all about it, but she rejoiced in each breath she took.”

Enid was an integral part of our parish - and she made her presence known at every Sunday service, coffee hour, special service and fellowship event. Regardless of the temperature or weather conditions she would find her way to the Church - on foot or by friendly persuasion Enid Mitchellto be picked up by car. She shared her concerns with everyone in a gentle, but firm, manner. When the doctors told her that her medical condition had become far more serious than before she faced the news with strength, and announced to the members of the choir that her faith would help her to overcome any illness or evil in her life.

Enid was deeply involved in the needs of others. She was actively involved in the Second Saturday Feeding Ministry at Trinity Church, but many of us may not be aware that she took on drug dealers and criminals in when she was living in Belize. She helped to reopen a church in a small town that had been taken over by dealers, brandishing mops and cleansers and shouting at them that the church was the house of God, and that it would be treated as the house of God from then on.

As Father Michael so eloquently spoke of her, “Enid was one of those marvelous people who could read other people's needs without in any way being patronizing or offensive. She was the Good Samaritan to many of us and bound up many hearts that were broken. She was a simple person and was open to everyone - particularly to the power of God. She was close to God, one of God's dear friends. She heard her calling from God at a very early age and lived the rest of her long life being faithfully obedient to it.”

Enid treasured her life in the church and was closely and intimately a part of everything that went on here. Her presence and her indomitable spirit will be sorely missed.

(Editor's Note: This article has been compiled from the reminiscences of several parishioners who had the pleasure of spending time with Enid in the course of her daily activities. Those portions of the article which contain quotes have been taken from Fr. Michael's homily.) paragraph ending graphic

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Save the Date!

Diversity Sunday, February 9
(immediately following the 10:30 p.m.). A special program to celebrate our Diversity as individuals and as a parish. Ethnic foods and entertainment provided by members of the parish are the order of the day

Mission Sunday, February 16
Special guest speaker at the 10:30 a.m. will be the brother of our Verger, Paul Smith, who works for the Archbishop of Canterbury

Episcopal Visitation and Confirmation, Sunday, March 2. paragraph ending graphic

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