Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 50 year old Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 150 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and impending hockey arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sad news for Anglicanism

We need good, faithful religious to hold us up in prayer. The loss of the All Saints Sisters of the Poor is a deep one. Sister Mary Charles is one of the first Anglican nuns I ever met, and I have made several retreats there when I was living out east.


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10 Episcopal nuns in Archdiocese of Baltimore to join Catholic Church

By George P. Matysek Jr.



After seven years of prayer and discernment, a community of Episcopal nuns and their chaplain will be received into the Roman Catholic Church during a Sept. 3 Mass celebrated by Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien. The archbishop will welcome 10 sisters from the Society of All Saints’ Sisters of the Poor when he administers the sacrament of confirmation and the sisters renew their vows of poverty, chastity and obedience in the chapel of their Catonsville convent. Episcopal Father Warren Tanghe will also be received into the church and is discerning the possibility of becoming a Catholic priest. Mother Christina Christie, superior of the religious community, said the sisters are “very excited” about joining the Catholic Church and have been closely studying the church’s teachings for years. Two Episcopal nuns who have decided not to become Catholic will continue to live and minister alongside their soon-to-be Catholic sisters. Members of the community range in age from 59 to 94. “For us, this is a journey of confirmation,” Mother Christina said. “We felt God was leading us in this direction for a long time.”


Wearing full habits with black veils and white wimples that cover their heads, the sisters have been a visible beacon of hope in Catonsville for decades. The American branch of a society founded in England, the All Saints’ Sisters of the Poor came to Baltimore in 1872 and have been at their current location since 1917.

In addition to devoting their lives to a rigorous daily prayer regimen, the sisters offer religious retreats, visit people in hospice care and maintain a Scriptorium where they design religious cards to inspire others in the faith. Throughout their history, the sisters worked with the poor of Baltimore as part of their charism of hospitality. Some of that work has included reaching out to children with special needs and ministering to AIDS patients. Together with Mount Calvary Church, an Episcopal parish in Baltimore, the sisters co-founded a hospice called the Joseph Richey House in 1987.


Orthodoxy and unity were key reasons the sisters were attracted to the Catholic faith. Many of them were troubled by the Episcopal Church’s approval of women’s ordination, the ordination of a gay bishop and what they regarded as lax stances on moral issues. “We kept thinking we could help by being a witness for orthodoxy,” said Sister Mary Joan Walker, the community’s archivist. Mother Christina said that effort “was not as helpful as we had hoped it would be.” “People who did not know us looked at us as if we were in agreement with what had been going on (in the Episcopal Church),” she said. “By staying put and not doing anything, we were sending a message which was not correct.” Before deciding to enter the Catholic Church, the sisters had explored Episcopal splinter groups and other Christian denominations.


Mother Christina noted that the sisters had independently contemplated joining the Catholic Church without the others knowing. When they found out that most of them were considering the same move, they took it as a sign from God and reached out to Archbishop O’Brien. “This is very much the work of the Holy Spirit,” Mother Christina said. The sisters acknowledged it hasn’t been easy leaving the Episcopal Church, for which they expressed great affection. Some of their friends have been hurt by their pending departure, they said. “Some feel we are abandoning the fight to maintain orthodoxy,” said Sister Emily Ann Lindsey. “We’re not. We’re doing it in another realm right now.”


The sisters have spent much of the past year studying the documents of the Second Vatican Council. They said there were few theological stumbling blocks to entering the church, although some had initial difficulty with the concept of papal infallibility. In addition to worshipping in the Latin rite, the sisters are expected to receive permission to attend Mass celebrated in the Anglican-use rite – a liturgy that adapts many of the prayers from the Episcopal tradition. Mother Christina said 10 archdiocesan priests, including Auxiliary Bishop Denis J. Madden, have stepped forward to learn how to celebrate the Anglican-use Mass. The sisters expressed deep affection for Pope Benedict XVI. The pope exercises an authority that Episcopal leaders do not, they said. The unity that Christ called for can be found in the Catholic Church under the leadership of the pope, they said. “Unity is right in the midst of all this,” said Sister Catherine Grace Bowen. “That is the main thrust.” The sisters noted with a laugh that their love for the pope is evident in the name they chose for their recently adopted cat, “Benedict XVII” – a feline friend they lovingly call “His Furyness.”

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Rambling on Weddings at St. John's

Yesterday we had a wedding at St. John’s Church. Joseph Emond and Jessica Minott were united in Holy Matrimony; exchanging vows and rings, and receiving the blessing of God and His Church through my office and ministry as priest of this parish. We pray every blessing upon them and their new life together!

Weddings are not an uncommon occurrence at St. John’s. In 2009 we have had 4 already and have three more scheduled in October and November. Some years we only have 3 or 4 weddings. We probably receive at least 25 inquiries a year, phone calls or emails, from people who want to ‘rent the church’ for a wedding. All who call are informed that if they are not members of St. John’s, or active members of another Episcopal/Anglican congregation they need to begin attending St. John’s (and do so for at least 6 months) in preparation for their upcoming nuptials. As you see from the number of weddings done a year vs. number of inquiries, for many it is the aesthetics of the building that is the attraction, not the faith for which it stands.

Marriage is a sacrament, an assurance of God’s grace-filled blessing and a great aid toward holiness. But it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. The blessing is re-enforced in light of the other sacraments like baptism and Holy Communion, for which continuing active membership in the Church is our Lord’s desire.

Since becoming Rector of St. John’s Church in March of 2001 I have done 43 weddings. 12 couples now live out of state or over an hour away from St. John’s. 5 couples are divorced (that I know of). None of the divorced couples continued attending St. John’s after their wedding. 5 couples come regularly to St. John’s and 2 come occasionally.

Doing the math and you see that 19 couples either come to St. John’s or live too far away to do so. That means that 24 local couples promised me that they were intending to continue to attend after their weddings and don’t.

Starting in 2010 ALL COUPLES intending to be married at St. John’s will be expected to attend the Alpha Course. PRAY God that The Faith will be as important to all being married at St. John’s as the ceremony and celebration is to them. And PRAY for all those who have been married here, that their hearts may be moved to greater and greater holiness through their participation in The Body of Christ—the Church.

Coming soon - The Alpha Marriage Course for those already married!

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

News from Malawi

From the Anglican Communion News Service via www.kendallharmon.net
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The Electoral College which sat at St Peter’s, Lilongwe, Malawi on Saturday 1st August 2009 elected the Revd Canon Fr Leslie Richard Mtekateka as the Bishop of Northern Malawi. The See fell vacant after Bishop Christopher Boyle resigned to take up a new post of Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Leicester in the UK.
Canon Mtekateka is presently serving as a parish priest in Karonga District, Malawi. He is one of the long serving priests in the Diocese having worked with the first Bishop of the Diocese Jack Biggers as his Chaplain, Diocesan Secretary and Archdeacon. He also served under Bishop Christopher Boyle.
The Venerable Fr Francis Kaulanda, Archdeacon of Lilongwe, was elected as Bishop to the vacant See of Lake Malawi by the Electoral College that met at St Peter’s, Lilongwe, Malawi on Saturday 1st August 2009.
The Diocese has been vacant since the passing on of Bishop Peter Nyanja in March 2005.
Fr Francis is a graduate of Zomba Theological College and Mindolo Ecumenical Foundation in Kitwe, Zambia. He is married with six children. He is currently serving as a Diocesan Youth Coordinator, Priest in Charge at Biwi and Archdeacon of Lilongwe.
Bishop William Mchombo
Acting Provincial Secretary

Monday, August 17, 2009

Rector's Rambling - August 16, 2009

Yesterday, August 15th, was a major feast day in the life of the Church. Today we are commemorating that feast with the second Collect of the day.
Known in Anglicanism as The Feast of St. Mary the Virgin, August 15th is a day commemorated in honor of Jesus’ mother in Anglicanism, Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and some Lutheran bodies.
For the Roman Catholics this day is known as The Feast of the Assumption. Tradition says that Mary, after her death, was bodily taken into heaven to be with her son. This is what the Church believes will happen to ALL OF US at the end of time, known as the General Resurrection. At that time all will rise from the dead with their resurrection bodies. The Roman teaching is that Mary received this in anticipation of the General Resurrection since it is from her body that Son of God Incarnate took his flesh. Although not explicitly contained in scripture, it is attested to by multiple early writers and by the lack of any bodily relics of Mary (something for which we have for all the apostles and many biblical characters).
For the Orthodox this day is known as The Feast of the Dormition, or the falling asleep of the Theotokos (God-bearer).
For Anglicans and Lutherans it is a recognition of the importance of Mary in the story of our salvation. She gives her ‘fiat’ to the Angel Gabriel’s announcement of her being chosen to be pregnant with the second person of the Trinity (Luke 1:38). She raises Jesus to be a good Jew in accordance with the original covenant. She is complicit in his first public miracle at Cana, interceding to her son, and instructing the servants to “do whatever he tells you” (John 2:3-5). She is faithful and present at His public ministry, His Crucifixion, Resurrection, Ascension, and the Coming of the Holy Ghost.
When Mary visits her kinswoman Elizabeth she deflects her praises, pointing instead to Our Lord. “My soul doth magnify the Lord…” and a recognition that “from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed” (Luke 1:45-56).
We call Mary blessed for Jesus’ sake.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Still alive....

...just haven't posted here.

After coming back from St. Michael's Conference Sam wanted to get on Facebook with all his new friends. So we decided to do that with tight supervision. Jennifer was already on, so I registered on as well.

In two weeks I have 200+ 'friends'; people from St. Mikes, St. John's Church, SSC, Seminary, College and College Fraternity, High School and even Middle School. Others are friends of friends and family members as well.

So as I settle in there, I will spend less time there, and post more often again here.