A Memo from Father Flannery
Effective May 17, 2021
Diocesan guidelines propose continued use of face masks in church, but now allow for a broader range of exceptions: from those known to be fully vaccinated to the very young to those with certain medical conditions that clearly preclude the wearing of masks. Furthermore, pastors now have the authority to establish parish protocol. Therefore, at Historic St. Mary’s I kindly request that those who know themselves to be at risk of contracting or spreading the Covid 19 virus, on the honor system, wear a face mask while in the church and maintain a respectful distance of others.
We wish to congratulate James Agnew who was ordained as a Deacon on May 22!
Dear parishioners, friends, and visitors,
Welcome to Historic St. Mary’s Church on Capitol Hill. It is the latter days of Spring 2021 as I write this letter, and like you, I am feeling the joy of life returning—not just in nature—but in our pandemic-struck world. It seems every weekend the people of our beautiful community increasingly experience the thrill of “re-connecting.”
Some of you will discover Historic St. Mary’s for the first time via this website. Others may come to appreciate it more keenly. I find that the longer I am pastor of St. Mary’s, the more I come to bask in the glow of one or another of its treasures.
In recent months I seem to feel more and more the presence and friendship here of St. Isaac
Jogues. In a way this great priest is the first reason we call Historic St. Mary’s “Historic!” Many Catholics, especially from Upstate New York and the Capital District, know that St. Isaac Jogues was a French missionary priest, who lived and died in the seventeenth century. He was among a number of Jesuit priests and missionaries who came to the “New World” to evangelize the native peoples here. In 1642 St. Isaac was captured by Iroquois warriors and suffered captivity and torture. On a trading mission to Beverwyck, Father Jogues was helped to escape. He hid in a barn until he could safely be brought down the river to New Amsterdam and ultimately cross the ocean back to France. (He would later return to America and be martyred.) St. Mary’s Church in Albany marks the spot thought to be the site of that barn in which the saintly priest was for a time kept safe!
Much can be said about St. Isaac Jogues. In this posting I merely wish to point to his love for the Eucharist. His fingers were so badly mangled when he was tortured that he could not say Mass: in the canon law of the day, a priest’s fingers were required to be intact for him to say the Mass. This law was written out of an earnest desire to make sure the priest would not be at risk of dropping the sacred Host. During his short return to France, Isaac sought and received dispensation from the rule, so that he could offer Mass. The response was, “How could a living martyr be refused the privilege of offering the holy sacrifice?” (I paraphrase.)
I draw this point to your attention because the Eucharist is the center of the Church’s life! It is the center of the life of every Catholic! The Eucharist is the center of our life at St. Mary’s! The early morning Mass on Sunday’s (8:00am) offers participants a contemplative experience of the holy Mass. The Saturday afternoon Mass (at 4:00pm) and the midmorning Sunday Mass (at 10:30am) are accompanied by inspiring music facilitated by a gifted cantor and gifted organists. And the 12:30pm Latin Mass offers participants the experience of Mass according to the very form St. Isaac Jogues and countless saints used for the celebration of Mass for most of the Church’s history. (In fact the last Sunday Mass each weekend was customarily offered in Latin until not too long ago, when the late and beloved Father James Lefebvre retired as pastor.) At Historic St. Mary’s we have always labored to accommodate the liturgical tastes of as many Catholic as possible, while remaining solidly rooted the Church’s sacred traditions. We still offer the use of the altar rail for Holy Communion. And the building itself is filled with uplifting sacred art. I feel the experience of the Eucharist at St. Mary’s is an encounter not only with the living Lord Jesus Christ, but also with the Church of all times and places. I hope parishioners, friends, and visitors feel the same.
Thank you for reading this post. Thank you for coming to Historic St. Mary’s and worshipping with us. Thank you for your material and prayerful support. And thank you for living and sharing your faith in Jesus Christ, the only authentic means to peace and joy in the world. May the prayers of the Virgin Mary and St. Isaac Jogues accompany us all on our walk with the Good Lord! With paternal affection, Father Michael Flannery, Pastor