Thursday, October 20, 2016

From Mother Vicki
19 October 2016
Collect for Saint Luke the Evangelist
Almighty God, who inspired your servant Luke the physician to set forth in the Gospel the love and healing power of your Son: Graciously continue in your Church this love and power to heal, to the praise and glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
We are so grateful to Saint Luke the Evangelist whose Feast Day was on October 18.  Luke was important to the Apostle Paul’s ministry and wrote The Gospel According to Luke as well as The Acts of the Apostles, the first book of Church History.  Luke was a physician who understood the healing power of Jesus’ ministry, death and resurrection. He also understood the beauty of the early hymns of the Church, and is responsible for the Canticles that we still use today, including Mary’s Magnificat (“My soul magnifies the Lord”; Luke 1:46-55), Simeon’s Nunc Dimittis (“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace”; Luke 2: 29-32). and the Angels’ Gloria (“Glory to God in the highest”; Luke 2:14).

What a glorious day last Sunday was with our Bishop Suffragan Allen Shin.  He spoke movingly to our class of confirmands and those to be received and reaffirmed before the service, delivered a beautiful sermon (I loved his personal musing about sibling rivalry between Esau and Jacob who were brothers!), spoke with everyone at the coffee hour about the new Strategic Plan for the Diocese and answered questions, and then met with the Wardens and Vestry.  His pastoral presence and holy encouragement were great blessings to this place.  Many thanks to Bishop Shin and to the Episcopal Diocese of New York for this wonderful visitation. We are also grateful to God and continue to pray for our newest members, Chris Michel-Karsten, Harve Oostdyk, Marie Lourde Baptiste and Tara Seeley, as well as members Hyacinthe Anthonyson, Judith Basile, Linda Brown, Velma Crichton and Deborah Debride, who were reaffirmed. The Holy Spirit is certainly with us in Getty Square!  And thanks to ALL who helped make the coffee hour so special.  It was absolutely lovely!

This weekend I have been invited to lead a retreat at Christ Episcopal Church in Greenville, South Carolina.  I will be flying out on Friday and returning late on Sunday.  The Reverend Marie Tatro, who is canonically resident in the Diocese of Long Island and who has become a dear friend through the Order of Urban Missioners, will be the Celebrant for our Sunday services.  She is a wonderful priest and preacher.  Please help her feel at home!

Invitations have been sent out for the Service of Rededication and my Installation as your Priest-in-Charge on Saturday, November 12 at 10 a.m. with our Diocesan Bishop, The Right Reverend Andrew Dietsche. We have plenty of invitations, so if there are others you would like to invite, please come to the office and ask for invitations to mail to your friends.

I met Deborah Danner at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, where she sometimes attended Bible classes between the services.  She knit and often wore hats that she had made.  She joined the Order of Urban Missioners last November, although she came to only one meeting.  She made a vow, “…with the help of God to assist, sustain and support the people God placed in my path.”  She struggled with mental health issues.  Deborah Danner is the woman in the Bronx who just attacked a police officer with a bat and was shot and killed.  Please pray for her, for the police officer and for our society, that we may figure out how better to care for and heal those who struggle with mental issues.  May Deborah rest in God’s peace.

In Christ and with much love,

The Rev. Dr. Victoria R. Sirota

Priest-in-Charge, St. John’s Getty Square
Confirmation with Bishop Allen Shin
October 16, 2016

Annual Clarence C. Hanchard Memorial Food Drive This November marks the eighth anniversary of the passing of Carmen Hanchard’s son, Luke, from a brain aneurysm. In honor of this anniversary the Hanchard family is partnering with the Bronx Bethany Food Pantry and is accepting check donations of $8.00 or more. Checks may be made payable to Bronx Bethany Food Pantry at 964 E 27th St, Bronx, NY 10466 and on the memo line please indicate Food Pantry Clarence J. Hanchard, Jr.

Would you like to host Coffee Hour?  This involves choosing a date and bringing refreshments.  Please sign up at the sign up table. We have a team each week that can assist you with the details. 

The Flowers (suggested $50 gift) and the Sanctuary Lamp (suggested $10 gift) can be given each week outside of Advent and Lent in memory of a loved one. You may sign up in the hall or call the parish office for more information. (914) 963-3033

Parish Office Hours: The office is open Mon. to Thurs. 9AM -12; 1 – 4 PM.

Note Box for Mother Vicki and the Office in the Narthex Please leave any communications in the box: prayer list additions, volunteering, pastoral concerns, and needs for meetings. Note: Mother Vicki’s new email is and her office phone number is (914) 969-2969
Parish Weekly Service Schedule
Sundays 8:00 AM: Holy Eucharist Rite I Sundays 10:15 AM: Eucharist Rite II with music
Wednesdays 12:00 PM            Healing Service and Holy Eucharist (light lunch follows)

Save the Date!
Saturday, November 12 at
10:00 AM Rededication and Celebration of a New Ministry

Upcoming Events
Sunday, October 23; Mother Marie Tatro, guest Celebrant and Preacher at both services
Serving at the Sharing Community, October 23
All Saints Services: November 6 at 8:00 and 10:15 a.m.
Penny Social: November 6, 12:00
Rededication of the Church & Installation of Mother Vicki, Saturday, November 12, 10:00 AM
Farmers’ Market: Thursdays until November 17.
Order of the Urban Missioners meeting, Saturday, November 19, 9:30 AM
Vestry Meeting, Monday, November 21, 6:30 PM
First Sunday of Advent, November 27, 8 and 10:15 services
Serving in the Sharing Community, Sunday, November 27
Vestry: Leadership Retreat Saturday, December 3, 9-3PM

Birthdays If we have missed your birthday, please let us know: (914) 963-3033

Please remember Harold Cronck, Sr. Carolyn Darr, SSM, Ruth Thomas, Lula Johnson, Waine Kniffen, Betty Carpenter, Don Lundquist, Joe Walsh, Thomas and Joy Sullivan, Aida Carino, Kaye Odishoo, Vera Johnson, Phyllis Jackson, Christopher, Peter Walsh, The Rev. Canon Claudia Wilson, the Hanchard family. 

Please hold in your prayers all who were impacted by Hurricane Matthew in Haiti and in the Southeast, those who have lost loved ones, those who have been evacuated and those who have lost their homes.

Deceased: Deborah Danner, those who died in Hurricane Matthew in our southern states and Haiti; Ken Thompson, Sean LoPrinz. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

From Mother Vicki
22 September 2016
Collect for Saint Matthew
We thank you, heavenly Father, for the witness of your apostle and evangelist Matthew to the Gospel of your Son our Savior; and we pray that, after his example, we may with ready wills and hearts obey the calling of our Lord to follow him; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

This Wednesday we celebrated the apostle and evangelist Matthew, a tax collector who was considered “unclean” by religious people.  Jesus had no interest in such categories.  He never treated anyone who was hungry for God as an outsider, as unworthy, or as “other.” Instead, he went to Matthew’s house, ate with Matthew and his friends, and called him to be a disciple.  We, too, as disciples of Christ, are called to spread the Gospel of Love to all people, a radical message especially in these days of fear and paranoia.  As Christians, we lead our lives based on faith, hope and love, not fear, anxiety and hatred. We have attached a powerful letter from our Diocesan Bishop Andrew Dietsche concerning the recent bombing attacks in NY and NJ.  He reminds us that no matter what happens “on Christ the Solid Rock we stand.”

This Sunday there will be a special presentation about Voter Registration given by Community Voices Heard after the Sunday Service at 11:30 a.m.  If you have not registered to vote or want further information about voting in the National Election on November 8, please be sure to come!  The election process is one of the greatest gifts of our democracy.

Classes have begun in preparation for Bishop Shin’s visit with us on October 16th.  Let me know if you are still interest in joining us for one of two courses being offered in preparation for Adult Baptism, Confirmation, Reception or Reaffirmation!

We will be celebrating Saint Francis with the Blessing of Animals (and their caretakers!) on Saturday, October 1 at noon in the Churchyard.  Please spread the word and join us with your pets!  All are welcome.

For those who are interested in becoming or who already are a lay Eucharistic Minister, we will be meeting on Wednesday, September 28th from 6:30 – 8 p.m. in the parish office for training, review and to be licensed by the Diocese. 

Further classes will be scheduled as necessary.  Please let me know if you wish to attend. Jesus said to Matthew, “Follow me!”  Will you?

In Christ and with much love,
The Rev. Dr. Victoria R. Sirota

Priest-in-Charge, St. John’s Getty Square
From Bishop Andrew Dietsche

On Christ the Solid Rock we Stand

September 20, 2016

My Brothers and Sisters,

I write you from the fall meeting of the House of Bishops in Detroit, where Bishops Shin and Glasspool and I have joined our colleagues from across the Episcopal Church, but we find that these are days when we very much want to be in New York.  The bombings that occurred in New York and New Jersey this weekend have quickened within us from afar our love for the Diocese of New York and its people, and for New York City, our see city. 

In the last two days have come the report of the bombing itself, the assessment of the terror threat, the identification of a suspect, and finally yesterday afternoon his arrest.  Even as we say our prayers for those wounded in the explosion of the bomb, we thank God that there has been no loss of life.  Even as we recoil in the horror that has visited New York we give thanks for the fast, measured, effective response of law enforcement. 

There are voices telling us now that the kinds of local attacks which we have seen in Boston and San Bernardino and Orlando; in London and Paris and Belgium; in Beirut and Istanbul and Ankara; in cities and cultures across the world, and which now have come to New York, are likely to continue a part of our lives into the future.  Since September 11 we have regularly been advised to adapt ourselves to "the new normal." 

Perhaps.  But our serenity and our confidence as Christians are not dependent on the external, changeable circumstances of either peace and security, or danger and fear.  Rather, it comes from the deep conviction within us that in every time and season - in every condition of life, when covered over with every blessing and when assaulted by every adversary - it is on Christ the solid rock we stand.  We live in the certainty and assurance that in an inconstant world it is the love of God and that only which endures and sustains; which gives strength to the fearful, solace to those who mourn, and humility to the victorious.  That indwelling love is the source of our brightest hopes and our profoundest consolation. 

The love to which we are called and invited is that of the Crucified and Risen One, which enfolds friend and adversary, neighbor and stranger; which opens the heart to see the possibilities in everyone, and despises no person.  All this is mystery to the world, but it is the very fabric of the divine reason.  So graced and inspired, and now in the shadow of Sunday's bombing, may God make us brave and strong and faithful to walk peacefully in the way of Jesus when we are on roads straight and smooth and especially on paths hard and rocky, that we may not lose our way, that we may be our best selves, and that we may be the miracle.  With every good wish I remain


The Right Reverend Andrew M.L. Dietsche

Bishop of New York

Thursday, September 15, 2016

From Mother Vicki

14 September 2016
Collect for Holy Cross Day
Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ was lifted high upon the cross that he might draw the whole world to himself: Mercifully grant that we, who glory in the mystery of our redemption, may have grace to take up our cross and follow him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Welcome Home!  This coming Sunday we celebrate the regathering of the congregation at Saint John’s Getty Square.  As your new Priest-in-Charge, I am so grateful for your welcome to me and my husband Bob over the past few months and for the amazing ways in which this already feels like home for us.  The word “home” refers to a dwelling place or residence.  It also reminds us of childhood memories of growing up that may be positive or negative depending on how much love was available to us.  One of the aspects of Christianity that I cherish the most is that around the altar we become one family, the children of God.  And in that family, there is more than enough love to go around.  God’s love for us is infinite.

This radical welcome is God’s gift to us.  As I write this on Holy Cross Day, I am reminded of Christ’s astonishing sacrifice for us, that in giving himself over to death on the cross, he broke through the bonds of death and gave us hope, joy and eternal life.  “Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim.” (Hymnal 1982, # 473)

And so this Sunday, Homecoming Sunday, we welcome anew members who attend regularly, those who have not been here in a while, visitors and those people for whom this may well become their new parish.  For all of us this home in Christ is more real than any home we have ever had.  All are welcome into Christ’s loving arms.

After each service on Sunday, there will be an opportunity to rethink your commitments and service for the year with sign-up sheets available on the bulletin board in the hallway.  Members who are involved in each capacity will be available at coffee hour to talk to you about the kind of commitment you would be making.  If you have been a teacher and enjoy the gift of opening the minds of our young people to new ideas, would you like to teach Sunday School?  Are you ready to commit to serving God as a Eucharistic Minister or Lay Reader?  Do you enjoy ironing and quieter backstage service and would you care to be on our altar guild?  Would you like to greet people and hand out the bulletins on Sunday as an usher or greeter? Do you enjoy planning events and making this place feel like home for everyone who shows up with good food and loving care? Would you like to help with the Farmers Market on Thursdays or with other Events coming up?  We need volunteers in many different capacities. 

But beyond that, God may be calling you this year to try something new, to go beyond your own doubts and fears about yourself, and offer yourself in service to others.  What I can tell you is that this enlarging of your world view allows God to bless you in new ways that you would never have thought possible. 

During each service after the exchanging of the Peace and announcements, I will be asking everyone who has volunteered in service to Saint John’s Getty Square to come to the railing so that I can say pray over you and thank you for the gift of your service.  This sacrifice of your time and talent blesses us all.

On Sunday, October 16, Bishop Suffragan Allen Shin will be the Celebrant and Preacher, and will be here to confirm, receive or reaffirm people who are interested in renewing their Baptismal vows in a more formal way.  In preparation for this service, I will be teaching a class on “Christianity and the Episcopal Church” on Wednesdays, September 21, 28, October 5 and 12 from 1:30 – 2:30 p.m. in the Guild Room. These four classes will review, renew, refresh and reenergize your faith with historical information as well as theological discussions and prayer. I will also be offering an evening class on “Christianity and the Episcopal Church” on Monday, Sept. 19, and October 3 and 10 from 6-7:30 p.m. in my office.  Please let me know if you would like to join us! These classes will prepare you for the rite of Reaffirmation with the laying on of hands by Bishop Shin in addition to being an opportunity to learn more about faith and life in Christ.
For those who are interested in becoming or who already are a lay Eucharistic Minister, we will be meeting on Wednesday, September 28th from 6:30 – 8 p.m. in the parish office for training, review and to be licensed by the Diocese.  Further classes will be scheduled as necessary.  Please let me know if you wish to attend.

I am so proud to be called your Priest.  May this year be filled with God’s richest blessings, and may God use us in ways we can’t imagine!

Welcome home!

In Christ and with much love,

The Rev. Dr. Victoria R. Sirota

Priest-in-Charge, St. John’s Getty Square

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

From Mother Vicki

30 August 2016

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
 Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

It is the end of August and leaves are already beginning to turn. The stores are filled with reminders that school starts soon, and that summer is almost over. For many, this Labor Day Weekend is the last fling before getting back to work. First instituted as a federal holiday in 1894, Labor Day honors the American labor unions and the hard won social and economic achievements of working men and women. We are grateful to all of those over the years who have worked and who are working still towards issues of justice and equity in the workplace.

September is also a time for renewal and rethinking of our work habits and priorities. It is easy to get pulled back into old habits not just of what we do, but also of how we think about others and ourselves. Centering our lives in Christ, reminding ourselves that Christ is always present--in every transaction, every relationship, every activity, and every new challenge--can help us to enfold our lives in prayer and find deeper meaning in the simplest things. We are to love God with all of our hearts, minds and souls, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. This Gospel message can transform the drudgery of daily living into an opportunity to witness God's miracles and joy in our love for others and for ourselves.

I have been reading the book Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Dr. Atul Gawande. Dr. Gawande talks about nursing homes and what dreary places they can be for those in need of help with daily living and medical supervision. In describing more recent creative innovations in healthcare including Assisted Living, Dr. Gawande points out that people who have serious illnesses do not just want to prolong their lives. He quotes surveys that identify their top priorities as, "avoiding suffering, strengthening relationships with family and friends, being mentally aware, not being a burden on others, and achieving a sense that their life is complete." He points out that people who are attached to a ventilator to prolong their physical life miss the opportunity to say good-bye, to say that "It's okay," "I'm sorry" or "I love you." (p. 155)

This new academic year provides us with new opportunities to use the precious life that we have been given--in whatever mental, physical and emotional shape we are in--to say "I love you" to the people with whom we live, work and worship. We have the opportunity to embrace our relationship with Christ every day, and consequently to have no regrets about what we have or have not done with our lives.

I am so grateful to be your Priest at Saint John's Getty Square, and look forward to our work and ministry together this year. May we have the courage and strength to be open to the Holy Spirit and let Christ guide us in all we do. See you on Sunday!

In Christ and with love,

The Rev. Dr. Victoria R. Sirota
Priest-in-Charge, Saint John's Getty Square