God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness,
and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this
mortal life, (in which thy son Jesus Christ came to visit us
in great humility;) that in the last day when he shall come
again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the
dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who liveth
and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost now and ever. Amen.”
Well, that sure was a mouthful. I half think that every Advent
Sunday when I pray this collect at the Sunday liturgies and throughout
the week that follows. The grammar check on my computer almost
short circuited as I typed it in (they don’t tend to do well
with endless clauses). The other half of me, though, thinks of
this collect as an encounter with an old friend, one I only get
to see once a year. As one of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer’s
original compositions for the 1549 Book of Common Prayer, our
church’s collect for Advent Sunday has been a part of the
Anglican experience for a very long time and so has had ample opportunity
to wiggle its way into our religious consciousness.
It embodies the language of juxtaposition, of contrasting images
set against each other that result in a very natural tension. Notice
how the phrases draw us in: “works of darkness” along
with “armour of light” and “in the
time of this mortal life” contrasted with “in
the last day.” It really is an outstanding example of
Cranmer’s ability to incorporate so many different threads
of theology into one cohesive whole.
Timing is everything, I suppose, and Cranmer’s timing is
perfect. The tension between darkness and light is
really being lived out all around us, isn’t it? As the days
continue their countdown to the day during which we have the least
amount of sunlight, we are aware of this too. We notice how early
in the afternoon it gets dark. We notice the difference in our
energy levels when we realize that it’s dark when we go to
bed, and it’s dark when we get up in the morning. We are
aware of the toll the darkness can take on our spirits too, as
our bodies deal with less and less mood-altering serotonin. It’s
not hard to see how humans and nature really co-exist, is it? And
yet we know the tide will turn, it’s a scientific certainty
that at some point the days will start getting longer again. At
some point the light will once again make its dramatic “come
from behind play” and win out over the darkness.
Cranmer wanted us to make these connections. He wanted us to
be aware of the fact that the world in which we live is actually
a world that embraces the works of darkness, and yet it can also
be a world in which it is possible to cast them off in favour of
the light’s protection. Light isn’t armour in the strictest
sense. All it does is let you see what really is out there more
clearly. It won’t shield you, but it does allow you enough
time to duck out of the way of what’s coming. The best thing
about light is that you don’t really need a whole lot in
order for it to make a difference.
I hope that this Advent season is a time of dawning brightness
for you and your family. I hope and pray that as we prepare to
celebrate the birth of Jesus the Son of God “in the time
of this mortal life,” we remember “the last
day” as well. For it will be on this day that
the light that enlightens all things will come again, not as a
babe in arms, but as the Adult Christ in glory. Come,
Every blessing, Fr. Clarke
Greetings! It’s that time of year again, when many of you
are busily preparing for the Christmas holiday – shopping,
writing cards, and decorating your homes. Just in case you haven’t
noticed, it’s getting pretty busy at Christ Church as well.
Sheila Hewitt is busily putting the
final touches on the preparations for the St. Nick’s Holiday
Fair on Saturday, December 3 rd from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. And Beth
McLean and Trevor Mills, chairpersons for the December
10 th Holly Ball at Christ Church are collecting the RSVP’s
and making final plans for the decorations, the food and the music.
These are two of the many joyful holiday events at Christ Church
and we encourage you to be a part of each one.
Congratulations and thanks to all of the members of Serendipity for
giving us just one more reason to be thankful last month. Their
Italian Night festivities not only gave us the chance to sample
the tasty fare prepared by Marlene Elia,
but more importantly, provided us with the opportunity to gather
together for a wonderful evening of fun and fellowship. It was
so good to see Gail Bernardez back with
us after her recent trip to Trinidad. And the Beveridge
clan was out in full force as well: Bill
and Nancy Beveridge, daughter Beth (McLean),
and a special visit from son Billy and
their grandson, Jackson.
Colin and Esther Reed’s daughter, Alyson,
was also a welcome sight that evening. We found her sitting alongside
her father while he was “collecting” money at the front
entrance that evening. Alyson is Executive Director of the National
Post Doctoral Association and just happened to be in town for a
business trip. How fortunate for us.
Members of the Seeley family were also
out in full force. It was so good to see Mae up
and about after her most recent bout with respiratory distress,
and husband David, sharing a dish of
pasta with their son, Nat, his wife, Ella,
and their children, Alex and Nat.
Also seen at tableside enjoying a glass of wine was Janet
and Paul Schneider .
We’ve been providing you with updates on their son, Andrew, who
has been experiencing the “ins and outs” of Basic
Training with the U.S. Army. Our most recent report on Andrew
indicates that he’s currently in the Field Artillery
branch, and once he completes Officer Candidate School he’ll
be traveling to Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, in April of next year for
additional training. Our thoughts and prayers are with him.
When Valerie Quinlan puts together
a Serenade concert she really puts her heart and soul
into it! When the Maryland Boychoir visited
Christ Church last month not only did she (and her trusty assistant, Lois
Lamb) organize a “Meet the Artists” reception
for those who attended; they also solicited the help of a willing
group of parishioners to provide food for 45 “bag lunches” for
the boys to eat on their return bus trip to Maryland that evening.
(By the way, their performance that afternoon was exceptional – and
we’re all grateful that they didn’t consume their peanut
butter and jelly sandwiches before the concert!)
Did you happen to catch the wonderful article about Bill
and Jane Brown that appeared in the Staten Island
Advance last month? These two lovebirds, who met when they
were enrolled in Wagner College, recently celebrated their
50 th wedding anniversary. No wonder Bill always looks so happy
when he sings in the choir each Sunday. (And can you believe
it - Bill has been a member of the Christ Church choir for
Most of us at Christ Church are aware that there is a small “core” group
of “regulars” who attend the 8 a.m. Sunday service
in the chapel each week. A spoken Eucharist and a brief homily
by Fr. Clarke are the usual bill of fare. However, there was a
surprising change in the normal routine on November 27 th when Betsy
and Scott Kalfa asked Fr. Clarke to baptize their
young son, Nicholas James, during the
service that morning. Nicholas, who was born on March 31, was joyfully
received into the body of Christ by those who were fortunate enough
to be in attendance that morning. Congratulations to all of the
members of the Kalfa and Gattullo families
on this most wonderful occasion.
It’s good to see Fr. John Walsted up
and around once again. It didn’t take very long (about a
week and a half after his surgery) for Fr. John to return to the
Richmond Choral Society concert rehearsals, and our spies tell
us that he’s been sighted at Adobe Blues once or twice as
well. Glad to have you back, Fr. John!
And speaking of get well wishes, our best go out to Dorothy
Rapp after a minor altercation while driving.
Dorothy has a particularly important reason to get well soon – the
birth of her third great grandson, Luke Michael
Horvat. And best wishes for a speedy recovery
go out to Edson George, who undergoes
shoulder surgery this month at Victory Memorial Hospital in
Last, but surely not least, a round of applause for Shirley
Black who was awarded the Advocacy Award given
by the Division of Legal Services for the City of New York.
Shirley holds the distinction of being the first “non-lawyer” to
have ever received this prestigious award!
And finally, best wishes to one and all for a blessed and joyful
holiday from the entire editorial staff of the Tower
the Vestry of Christ Church New Brighton met on Monday, November
14th for the regularly scheduled monthly meeting. Following is a brief recap
of important issues that were discussed at that time:
The Vestry will meet again on Monday, December 12th. Approved minutes
from the October 10, 2005 meeting have been posted on the parish
house bulletin board for those wishing to review them.
- Although Fr. Clarke was not present at this meeting, he did
indicate in his printed report to the Vestry that filming for
The Book of Daniel has been discontinued – at least for
now. The producers have advised us that they HOPE to return for
additional filming in 2006. As was indicated in previous reports,
the Vestry voted to designate all funding that is received from
this project to the much needed repairs of our stained glass
windows in the church.
- The Finance Committee has been meeting to formulate the 2006
budget for Christ Church. The final “draft” of the
budget will be presented to the Vestry for approval and in turn,
will be presented for the final vote at the Parish Annual Meeting
- A Nominating Committee has been formed to determine the list
of eligible candidates to fill upcoming vacancies in the Vestry
next year. Members of the committee include Warden Beth McLean,
chair of this committee, Lester Blair, Glendon Jantzi, Connie
Ricciardi and Lesley Shannon. Additional information will be
made available after the committee presents its proposed slate
to the Vestry for final approval.
- Susan Fowler, chair of the Plant & Equipment Committee,
gave a very important and informative visual presentation of
the areas of the church that are sorely in need of repair at
this time, and a time line of when these projects are scheduled
the early days of Christ Church there were two women’s groups: the
St. Elizabeth Society, whose ladies rolled bandages in war time
and sewed infant’s garments for Staten Island Hospital, and
The Women’s Guild. These two units later became The Women
of Christ Church. Many were the dinners, luncheon/card parties,
rummage sales and other events organized by the ladies for the
benefit of the parish.
The Women of Christ Church (ECW) is a dues paying unit of the
Episcopal Church Women of the Diocese of New York. Every female
member of Christ Church, New Brighton, is automatically a member
of ECW. An invitation is extended to the women of the parish once
a year to make a monetary contribution to Women of Christ Church
to meet its annual ECW diocesan dues of $175 per year.
Besides contributing $2000 annually to the parish budget, The
Women of Christ Church generously donate to many local and national
worthy causes as listed in its financial statement in the parish
As women’s interests have changed over time, so has participation
in groups like Women of Christ Church. The membership has decreased
to the point of no longer being able to function as in the past,
and therefore, the officers have voted to disband at the end of December
2005. Any remaining funds will be transferred to the Christ Church
Saturday, December 24th
p.m. – Family Nativity Eucharist
10:00 p.m. – Choral
Sunday, December 25th
8:00 a.m . – Said
9:00 a.m . – Combined Service
The Sunday School is Sponsoring a Glove
Please consider donating a pair of gloves,
mittens, a hat, or a scarf to be distributed at the end of
the month to the people who need them. The Glove Tree is located
in the Guild Room of the Parish House.
Dinner with Santa
6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
A special evening for our younger
parishioners to come out and have dinner with Santa. Lots of other
surprises as well!
Sunday School Christmas Play
Members of the Sunday School will be
presenting a Christmas play as part of the Combined Service that
morning at 10:30 a.m.
of Serendipity thought the recent Italian Night might be the organization’s
swan song. The gloomy thoughts some of us had, as the evening began,
were quickly dispelled as eighty-three people poured into the Guild
Room and created an unexpected seating problem. Only 17 fewer attended
the event than came to the May Ham dinner. While it was obvious
that people enjoyed eating together, they lingered over dessert
and cream puffs so as to enjoy talking with each other.
Are you allowed to work like a demon when you’re working for
Jesus down at Christ Church? Because that’s what chief cook
and bottle washer Marlene Elia and others did, throughout a very
enjoyable November evening. About fifteen or more children, some
of whom were under Beth McLean’s directing, helped clear tables
and when things slowed a bit, Richard Zayzay was conducting silent
games. A man who can keep that many kids quiet on a Friday evening
deserves a medal. $533 was raised for Christ Church at this event.
The Women of Christ
Church would like to give a big “thank you” to
all who generously contributed to the 2005 United Thank Offering Fund. We were
able to collect $785 (at this writing,) which will be put to good use at
home in the New York diocese and over seas as an outreach of the Episcopal Church.
Thank you again.
The very name
reminds one of some grand Venetian nobleman. In April, 2005, Father
Clarke, Warden Beth McLean and Susan Fowler, Chairman of the Buildings
and Grounds Committee, were lucky enough to persuade Vito DeRenzis
to join the staff of our church for Sundays through Thursdays.
On the back of the bulletin each Sunday, he is listed as our
Sexton. In spite of the temptation to make a joke about the role
of one who is called a sexton, I passed up that opportunity and
went to the Oxford English Dictionary where a sexton is described
as “an officer charged with care of the church, its vessels,
vestments and church yard and one who also is a grave-digger.” I
think the latter’s a duty Vito will forego, though there’s
plenty of room in our church yard—tea is not the only thing
we could enjoy under the trees.
Vito was born and went to high school in that land opposite us—good
ole Brooklyn. Following his graduation from high school he worked
for Citibank, and following that, was in the construction business
for nine years. During the following 11 years he was a carpenter’s
apprentice, and then became the superintendent of a building that
housed a senior citizens’ complex before joining the staff
of Christ Church.
Vito is married, has two sons, Robert, 18, and Blake, 10 years
old, and his daughter, Devan, is 17. Vito’s wife, Deborah,
is a legal secretary. Although Vito is not a movie fan, he likes
all kinds of music. His tastes in food are typically American.
He likes steak with mashed potatoes and string beans or broccoli
and, wonder of wonders, he loves macaroni with pasta sauce. When
he’s out his favorite fast food chain is McDonalds where
he loves Big Macs.
If you don’t know him already, you’re in for a treat.
The Vitos of this world are few and far between these days. His constant
willingness to be immediately helpful is so refreshing these days
and his pleasant response to just about any request takes us aback
because we’re just not used to it. When Shakespeare wrote Timon
of Athens he could have had Vito in mind when he wrote ‘Tis
not enough to help the feeble up, but to support him after.”
rolls with tuna fish salad at 5 a.m. on a Sunday morning is not
my idea of the best way to begin the Sabbath, but had she asked,
I and a team of other volunteers would have worked all night for
Valerie Quinlan. I’d watch her walk the dog!
The November visit to Christ Church by the Maryland State Boychoir
was one of the most stunning events of our year. We were honored
to entertain almost forty men and boys ranging in age from eight
How many men in the audience were taken back as I and a couple
of other men were, to a time long ago, when they were boys in a
church choir and perhaps sang Brother James Air, as soloists
or choristers. Shakespeare once said that “youth and crabbed
age cannot live together,” but that afternoon they did. It
was just wonderful.
Our church was almost packed and people continued to pour in even
after the concert had begun. It was fun to see Vincent Craig, the
son of Ed and Laura, who has been the tour accompanist for the Boychoir
for thirteen years, running between the organ and the piano. Many
of the hundreds who came were especially moved by a program that
was not just the traditional Bach, Tallis, Stanford and the like,
but included also some wonderful African music. And who will forget
the seductive performances of the four handsome older teenage boys
who knelt as they sang a love song before some ladies in the audience.
Heavens, what is our church coming to?
who would like to contribute to the Altar Memorial flowers and
greens for Christmas should list names of those to be remembered
and place envelopes containing donations in the offering plate
on a Sunday. Flower fund envelopes will be found in the pews. Checks
should be drawn to “Women of Christ Church.”
Names and donations may also be
mailed directly to Mrs. Richard Elfers, 61 North Randall Ave., Staten
Island, NY 10301. To be listed in the Christmas bulletin, all names
must be received no later than Sunday, December 18.
1—Sue Boody; 3—Liam David Aleman; 4—Philip
Aleman, IV; 5— Victor Stanwick ; 12— Linda McAndrew;
17—Lester Blair; 18—Willie F. Black, Jr., Tovin Epherim
273—Shirley & Willie Black, Jr., Linda & Robert
McAndrew, Laura & Albert Patrick.
If your special day is not in our records, call the Parish Office
at 727-6100 so it can be added.
October of this year the Vestry designated S unday, November 6
th as Stewardship Sunday. This is the day when many of you submitted
your 2006 pledge cards and talent bank sheets after prayerful consideration
However, when members of the Finance Committee met at the end
of November it was noted that at least 30 pledges were still outstanding.
If you haven’t submitted your pledge yet we ask that you
do so as soon as possible so that the committee will have a more
tangible monetary figure to work with in their efforts to formulate
a budget for 2006.
This year, Christ Church was fortunate to have been selected
as the film locale for The Book of Daniel .
In addition to the wonderful publicity that we received while the
show was being filmed, we also reaped financial benefits as well.
As you know, the filming has been put on hiatus, and we’re
hoping that it will get underway again in the early spring.
The money that we have received has since been designated to
the much needed repair and upkeep of the stained glass windows
that drew the production company to Christ Church in the first
There are still many other projects that need to be completed
and many other additional and ongoing expenses, such as heat, utilities,
salaries and the like, that still need to be met. And this is just one of
the many reasons for us as a parish family not to just submit our
pledges, but also to be faithful in maintaining that
pledge throughout the year.
We are all aware that Stewardship is not just a matter of money – it
also involves the sharing of our time and our talents throughout
the year. This can include something as simple as offering to host
a coffee hour, bake a cake or oversee a table at one of our fundraising
events. It can also involve a deeper commitment, such as being
an usher, a reader, a server, a member of the choir or a participant
in the weekly Bible study and book groups.
Or, it just might be that your special talent or ability is needed
to help the members of our parish committees continue the important
work that needs to be done to keep our parish active and alive,
whether it be as a member of the Landscape or Plant & Equipment
Committee, or as a member of the Stewardship or Evangelism committees.
If you have not yet submitted your pledge, or are in need of an additional
pledge card or talent bank sheet, please contact Connie Ricciardi
our Financial Secretary. You can find her at the 10:30 service every
Sunday morning, or you can leave a message for her in the parish
a tree become a hero and a martyr? The answer is yes. An amazing
red sculpture has been installed in front of Trinity Church Wall
Street. Named “Trinity Root” by sculptor Steve Tobin,
and dedicated on Sept. 11, 2005, this large sculpture represents
the complex, spreading root system of the 100-year old London plane
tree that was felled in St. Paul ’s Churchyard by a steel
beam from the collapsing North Tower of the World Trade Center
on Sept. 11, 2001.
This London plane tree grew inside St. Paul ’s Churchyard
near the corner of Church and Vesey Streets. It is admired because
all the trees in the churchyard, by blocking and catching the falling
debris from the collapsing tower, protected the church from damage,
so that not a single pane of glass was broken.
The reputation of St. Paul ’s Chapel as a relief center
after the 9/11 attacks makes it still one of the leading tourist
attractions in the city. Thousands visit annually. Trinity Parish
dates its founding back to 1697 Viewing “Trinity Root” is
a wonderful way to stay in touch with our roots as Episcopalians.
God bless the Episcopal Church.
Prayer is either
a sheer illusion or a personal contact between embryonic, incomplete
persons (ourselves) and the utterly concrete Person. Prayer in
the sense of petition, asking for things, is a small part of it; confession
and penitence are its threshold, adoration its sanctuary, the presence
and vision and enjoyment of God its bread and wine. In it God shows
himself to us. That He answers prayer is a corollary, not necessarily
the most important one, from that revelation. What He does is learned
from what He is.
year our Vestry remembers those in our community who cannot afford
basic necessities. Early in November Eugene, Gytha and Colin spent
six hundred and fifty dollars of your money for razors and shaving
cream, tooth paste, and soap—goods which poor people
are not allowed to purchase with food stamps. Beverly Neuhaus also
made a special appeal for some protein, so we loaded the carts at
Costco with Spam (in honor of Victor Stanwick),
salmon, tuna, chicken and stew.
Sunday, December 4th Serenade will present the Viva Voce Brass
Ensemble in a program entitled “Essential English.” Viva
Voce is a well-established music ensemble which has been entertaining
Staten Island audiences for more than 20 years.
This will be a program of works ranging from the Renaissance
to the Modern, featuring the traditionally English holiday selections.
Presented early in December, it is Serenade’s way of launching
the Christmas season. It will be a fun event for the whole family – children
are most welcome.
The concert is free to the public, and there will be a “Meet-the-Artists” reception
immediately following the performance. For additional information
please call 718-273-3668 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This concert is made possible by the New York City Department of
Cultural Affairs, the Noble Maritime Collection, City Councilman
Andrew J. Lanza, and J.P. Morgan Chase Regrant in partnership with
the Council on the Arts and Humanities for Staten Island (COAHSI).