Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Update from our Postulant, Tim Yanni

Greetings to you back in Utah!

I hope the changing of the seasons is delightful to you! The change from summer to fall is one of the things I miss the most about being away from Utah. Here in California, the weather is fairly constant and the color changes are not as impressive as they are in Utah. With the change of seasons, I would like to share with you some details of events that are taking place in my life.

As you know, I left Utah for California about a month ago. It has been an extremely busy month! I am continuing in my role as Head Sacristan at CDSP. In the seminary world, Head Sacristan is a fairly prestigious position with many honors and many responsibilities. In seminary speak, Head Sacristan is often seen as a role ranking even higher than student body president at other institutions of higher learning. I'm honored to have earned the trust of the community and I am humbled by the responsibilities that the job requires. I spend many hours teaching, preparing, and in many ways, pastoring to other students. It is certainly a challenge to juggle Sacristan duties with school work. However, I have learned a great deal about leadership, worship, and administration by taking on this role.

I am continuing my weight loss journey, although it has not been easy. I have lost ten pounds since returning to Berkeley, yet I have a long way to go to reach a healthy weight. To date, my total weight loss is 73 pounds. If I am able to reach a healthy weight by the end of the calendar year, I will be accepted into the United States Navy's Chaplain Candidate program. As a Chaplain Candidate, I would gain helpful experience by working side by side with active duty Navy chaplains. It is a tremendous opportunity. Both Bishop Scott Hayashi and Bishop Jay Magness (the Episcopal Bishop of the U. S. Armed Services) have given me their ecclesiastical support in this venture. Now it is up to the Navy to accept me, which they will do if I meet their height and weight standards. This is a very exciting opportunity!

This semester, I am taking courses in Christian Ethics, Christian Education, Liturgics, and Pastoral Care. I have a very full schedule with very challenging courses. I would go as far as to say that this is my most challenging and stressful course load I have yet seen. This is probably amplified by the whirlwind of activities, deadlines, meetings, and commitments which come as part of a seminarian's senior year of studies. I am preparing to take General Ordination Exams in January of this year, and there is a weekly seminar for preparation every Wednesday. I am also preparing to preach my required senior sermon (by the time you read this, it will have been finished. I am scheduled to preach on Sept. 29, the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels.).

Overall, my studies and preparation are going well. I am learning to navigate the uncertainties and the unexpected obstacles that seem to appear and to take care of myself as best I can. If I am unable to take care of myself properly, then I am unable to give appropriate energy to studying and to ministering to the people of God. I have learned that this is a very important area of focus for virtually everyone in the ministry. I will continue to keep you posted of my progress this year. I am hopeful to be made a candidate for Holy Orders very soon and to be ordained as a transitional deacon at some point within the next three to eight months. Please know that you are all in my prayers and I very much appreciate the support I receive from the wonderful people of St. Mary's. Seminary is quite the journey, and with your support and prayers, I just might make it after all!
The authors of the blog texts welcome comments, reactions, and critiques.

On the Dedication of a Piano, by The Rev. Peter J. Van Hook

In accordance with a venerable tradition, church furnishings and ornaments are consecrated by being put to the use for which they were intended. The Book of Occasional Services, p. 192

On the evening of Saturday, October 10, St. Mary's Church will celebrate the dedication of the Richard H. Weissert Memorial Piano.

To dedicate a piano may seem odd, although it would seem less odd to dedicate a chalice or vestments or stained glass window. If anything it is right and good that we should acknowledge the gift of something to our church, but it is also right and good that we should remind ourselves of the importance that things have in our lives and of the importance that those who have gone before us have for our continuing life together.

The purpose of this piano has been explained before, so I shall only summarize here. About three years ago our then-Organist Ruth Eldredge Thomas and I began to realize that our “little” church was not only beautiful but also possessing rather fine acoustics. Ruth began to recruit friends and colleagues to perform at various times for us, and the idea began to grow that the church might be a resource for the larger music community around us, including the music programs at the two area universities.

In December 2014 the Bishop's Committee approved a proposal to create the Community Music Outreach Program to do exactly that: provide a moderate-sized venue for musical performance as a means of reaching out to the community around us and making life better for us all. However, our explorations revealed that in order to be an attractive venue we needed a decent—read, grand—piano. Our technical advisers recommend something around 6’2” in length.

In late 2013 the Rev. Richard Weissert, long-time Assisting Priest at St. Mary's Church, died. Conferring with his children, Barry and Sandy, it was decided that a fitting memorial for Fr. Dick, who loved church music and used to sing in the church choir, would be the desired piano. Thanks to them, and a number of others who contributed to the Weissert Memorial Fund, sufficient funds were raised that, when the right instrument was discovered, we were able to move quickly and acquire it.

In early 2015 Serena Kanig Benish was retained as the Program Coordinator, and the program commenced with the opera department of Utah Valley University putting on Puccini’s Suor Angelica in the church. (It was oddly fitting, in that the entire opera takes place in a chapel!)

Along with the piano itself, a bronze plaque will be placed in the church to remind us of the example of service that Fr. Dick gave us. He was well known around town for his generous spirit, and served for many years on the Food & Care Coalition board of directors, and many of them as Treasurer.

Two things Dick loved about St. Mary’s Church was the music and the annual service of the Blessing of the Animals. One of the last sermons he preached as at such a service, and the text of that sermon remains posted on our parish Website (here).

So, what then are we observing and dedicating on the 10th of October?

We are remembering, and causing to be continually remembered, the generous example of Dick Weissert to his church and his community.

We are acknowledging the many gifts of money that led to the acquisition of the piano.

We are recognizing the many years of planning and effort that went into the creation of the Community Music Outreach Program and the acquisition of the piano that will support it.

We are thanking God for all that and more, including the continuing opportunity as a congregation to reach out to the community around us and invite it into our lovely space to enjoy it with us.

We are committing ourselves to continuing the ministries that have been expressed out of this congregation so that the world will know that God’s creation includes the beauty of his holiness.

It is not necessary that we should dedicate this piano, but it is a good and lovely thing that we give thanks and celebrate the gifts we have received.

The authors of the blog texts welcome comments, reactions, and critiques.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Regarding the Church Development Institute (CDI), by Patricia Castelli

Bishop Scott Hayashi invited parishes from the Diocese of Utah to send representatives to the Church Development Institute (CDI). It's been my privilege to attend the first five of the eight-weekend workshops. Father Peter, David Carlisle, and I began our interactive study a year ago, committing to attend four workshops a year for two years. But life does sometimes nudges us onto other paths, and the Carlisle Family has relocated to Arizona. Personally, I felt much more confident about developing projects to enrich our Church life at St. Mary's with David bolstering our activities with his keen intelligence, solid Christian values, and innate leadership abilities.

The first year of CDI focused on organizational behavior through the lens of the individual and how each of us brings various character traits, personalities, and levels of commitment that affect our congregational community. In May, the representatives from each parish worked with one another to develop a project for their own congregation.

St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Park City developed a water conservation plan for the landscaping around their church building and encouraged all parishioners to track their water savings from the previous year.

During the Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City, St. Jude's Episcopal held a Saturday service based on the prayer book used in Shakespeare's Day, enticing many visitors to attend a service.

For St. Mary's, Peter, David, and I decided on formalizing our welcomes and goodbyes.

We reflected on St. Mary's and the transient nature of our congregation, especially the student population. We recognize that core members who have been attending St. Mary's for many years have naturally developed a welcoming community. The open friendliness and genuine interest in the people who enter the church creates an atmosphere of acceptance for all visitors. We want to augment that welcome with more. Perhaps a loaf of fresh bread taken to the home of the visitor, or a welcome packet of some sort? Feel free to share any ideas you may have with Peter or members of the Bishop's Committee. Our goal is to welcome others into our Church family in a way that invites them to contribute their talents to St. Mary's as a blessing for both the community and the individual.

Too often, we must say goodbye to well-loved families and individuals who have moved away, or moved on to their heavenly home. The goodbyes are part of our lives at St. Mary's and we can commemorate those events with special prayers in the service. For those moving away, social hour can be a celebration of their time with us. As we formulated these plans, our first goodbye was to David and his family.

I guess that means I can continue to work on CDI projects without the help of David. (After all, he didn't plan his own goodbye party.) While David will still be a part of St. Mary's as a seminarian from our community, we will need another person to dedicate three weekends to CDI: November 13-14, February 5-6, and May 20-21. If you're interested, talk to Peter.

~ Patricia Castelli