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The “Top Ten” of 2007

For me, 2007 can be characterized as a year with many special and noteworthy moments. I’d like to acknowledge the many contributors who helped produce my Top Ten favorites. These are not listed in any order of importance.

1. We made substantial progress with St. Mary’s Katrina outreach initiative. Lynn Farnell and Tim Green completed their second diocesan-sponsored mission trip—this time to New Orleans, following an earlier trip to Biloxi (MS)—returning with photos and anecdotes about the unresolved devastation they witnessed and courageous, spiritual inhabitants they met. This is despite the noteworthy relief work being done by church volunteer groups. A last-minute substantial, anonymous donation from a St. Mary’s parishioner made the final leg of the 2007 program possible. Lynn and Tim are extremely gratified by the ongoing support from the congregation throughout the year.

2. St. Mary’s longstanding relationship with its sister parish, Santa Maria Virgin in El Salvador, was twice reaffirmed. First, Paul Pyzowski participated in a mission trip to El Salvador for 11 days. Second, Padre Julio Rivera, the priest at Santa Maria Virgin, visited St. Mary’s September 30th, bringing a message of warmth and hope from our sister parish. Paul’s enthusiasm for the mission work of the Church in El Salvador has led to the creation of a partnership with St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Natick with the goal of sending a joint team of 12 parishioners on a one-week mission trip in May 2008.

3. St. Mary’s unveiled a new, user-friendly website and an expanded capability to communicate with parishioners online. We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Paul Pyzowski for creating a website that makes a very favorable first impression for St. Mary’s. Not only did Paul create this marvelous marketing tool; he did all of the work himself, saving the church monies that had been budgeted for an outside website designer. The website exhibits a beautiful photo gallery of events, and a video of the 5:00 p.m. Christmas Eve Service.

4. For the first time, invitations to the newcomer’s barbeque on September 23rd were extended to the entire Newton Lower Falls neighborhood. The event was well attended and the meal drew rave reviews. We welcomed 13 new families to Saint Mary’s in 2007. Cindy Pendergast and Isabel Phillips put a lot of work into making the newcomer’s barbeque happen and deserve our gratitude.

5. The involvement of our youth set new records and inspired us all during 2007. Particularly meaningful were the youths’ participation in the Palm Sunday service and Lessons and Carols during Advent. In addition, we thank our middle school class who introduced us to Holy Week and read so clearly to a noisy congregation during the Christmas Eve pageant. Finally, we recognize our acolytes, who dutifully serve each Sunday. Participation in our acolyte program has hit an all-time high.

6. On November 24th, St. Mary’s church building survived a potentially devastating fire. The fire department arrived to find an oil fire in the boiler room and a smoke-filled church. Fortunately, powerful fans cleared the air in the hallways and offices, and Sunday services continued on schedule. Because of the generosity of St. Mary’s parishioners, we were able to give an HDTV to the main station force on Commonwealth and Beacon Street in gratitude for their years of service.

A letter dated December 29, 2007 was received from the station’s Commanding Officer, Captain Mark W. Roche, which read in part:

“On behalf of the members of Fire Station 2, I want to thank you and your parishioners for the generous donation recently provided for our station. As you may already know, the “comfort” items in the fire stations such as TVs, air conditioners, microwaves, exercise equipment, etc. are all paid for by our members and are not provided by the City of Newton.

“Firefighters perform their dangerous job 24/7 and ask for nothing in return except for a thank you once in a while. The parishioners of St. Mary’s graciously said thank you by providing us with a wonderful gift.”

7. St. Mary’s hosted Spiritual Life Day for the Wellesley chapter of Church Women United on Friday, October 26th with the largest group in years attending to hear Rabbi Weiss and me reflect on interfaith and spiritual life. The service centered on the spiritual life as apparent to all who are grateful to God for the blessings of life. Spirituality is not for the select few, but for all whose lives are touched by God. Elizabeth Comer did a stellar job in organizing this event, and the ecumenical spirit of Anna Brita Perkins and Fran Johnson was felt.

8. A new Coffee and Connection forum held in the parish hall occasioned discussions on the well-being and direction of our parish. One preliminary outcome is the Epiphany Adult Forums centering on Christian education, outreach, and worship. These programs afford Saint Mary’s with the chance for dialogue and feedback as well as planning for the future.

9. Our quinquennial pictorial directory has been nearly completed. This important document provides a photographic history of St. Mary’s families and is meant to be enjoyed by all. Making the directory happen requires a tremendous amount of work. Once again, Judy Haycock, Beverly Hurney and Andrea Gorton stepped up to the plate. They deserve our thanks.

10. The Women of St. Mary’s once again raised more than $10,000 from Foods’n Fancies. This money goes to support outreach projects to the community and the world. The WSM did so much behind-the-scenes work: planning the Lenten program on environmental issues, producing many beautiful needlepoint kneelers and preparing for several fun events in 2007.

– Peter Chase

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