News from Saint Thomas Church Week Beginning October 27

In this week’s news…

Tolle, Lege “Take and read”

Father Patrick Cheng

Dear Friends,

These were the words that St. Augustine of Hippo heard one day in the year 386 C.E. as he was standing outside in the city of Milan. At that time, Augustine was a gifted young teacher of rhetoric who was highly skeptical of the Christian faith. He had been living a dissolute life – even fathering a son out of wedlock at the age of 18.

But when Augustine heard those words sung by a child, he knew right away that God was telling him to pick up a Bible and to start reading.

And when he did that, St. Augustine immediately felt that “all the shadows of doubt were dispelled,” and “a light of relief” flooded into his heart. [1] It was at that moment that he converted to Christianity, and he eventually became one of the greatest theologians in the history of the faith.

Theological reflection has the power to change lives. Augustine’s conversion story is a testament to that truth. Indeed, reading theology is how we can love God with “all thy mind,” as we are instructed in the Summary of the Law at the beginning of the Rite I eucharistic liturgy.

The education and formation program at Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue helps parishioners of all backgrounds to “take and read” works of theology that span the two millennia of the Christian tradition, from Augustine to Aquinas, and from Calvin to Coakley.

Your response to our parish’s Annual Appeal for 2020 will help to provide funding for guest instructors, the spring and fall theology lecturers, and formation programs for parishioners who seek to be confirmed and received into the Episcopal Church.

Thank you for your support of our parish’s education and formation program. As your Theologian in Residence, I look forward to “taking and reading” with you. Tolle, lege.

In Christ,
Fr. Cheng
Theologian in Residence

[1] Augustine of Hippo, Confessions VIII.xii (29), trans. Henry Chadwick (Oxford University Press, 1998), at 152-53.


(Please note that we updated our website over the summer, including our pledging system. If you previously had a user account, you will need to create a new user account and password. If you have any questions, please email

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Special Announcement

Ann Hall Kaplan

After eleven years as Director of Development, Ann Hall Kaplan has announced her intention to retire at Easter 2020 which will allow sufficient time for the Rector and Vestry to search for her successor.  Ann is the first Director of Development for Saint Thomas Church and has become a linchpin in our annual fund-raising efforts and building up of community, including many hospitality events.

Ann came to us from our neighbor, St Bart’s with knowledge of the workings of the Episcopal Church and the importance of team-building.  During her time she has presided over two major capital projects – the Stained glass windows and the Miller-Scott organ.  She has built up a hard-working team of volunteers to assist with our fund-raising efforts and works closely with the Choir School Committee and the Friends of Music.  Her warm personality and her elegant demeanor have made her both approachable and a truth-worthy colleague; we will not only miss her presence in the Development Office but also the joy that she brings to everything she attempts.

Ann has recently become a grandmother and looks forward to remaining a member of our parish but being able to spend a little more time each year with her family and in her beloved Nantucket.  We will find a way to celebrate her retirement next year and, in the meantime, the search for her successor is now underway. Ann has also been instrumental in our strategic planning process with Wellspring Consulting  this past year.  The creation of a slightly enlarged ‘Office of Institutional Advancement’ will help the parish,  the Choir School, and the Friends of Music to grow and work ever more closely aligned to our vision.  Ann’s work has been an instrumental foundation as we move forward.

The Rector and Wardens

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News from the Choir School

This has been an exciting year at the Choir School as we celebrate our Centennial!  November 7th-10th, 2019, Remembrance Weekend, marks the closing of our Celebration and we hope you’ll join us for some (or all) of the events.

The festivities begin on Thursday, November 7th with the first concert of the season: “Saint Thomas Choir School at 100.” For more information and tickets contact Adam MacDonald in the Friends of Music Office or call: (646) 569-6431.

Friday, November 8th there is a Reception at Steinway Hall with Special Performances by the Boys of Saint Thomas Choir and Dr. Jeremy Filsell. Advance tickets and reservations required. Space is limited.

Saturday, November 9th is Symposium Day at the Choir School, featuring the following speakers:

    • Tom Carroll, MD ’88: “Care of the Professional Voice”;
    • Joe Causby, “Who dares stand idle? The life and works of Dr T. Tertius Noble”;
    • Sean McFate ’84: “The Future of Global Foreign Relations”;
    • Roger Black ’62: “Sitting in the Church: The art and architecture of Saint Thomas Church.”

Advance tickets and reservations required.

Sunday, November 10th the Alumni Choir will join the Choir of Men and Boys for Evensong.

Please contact Susan Hill for more information about any of these events.

Cantate Domino!

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For the Fall season, our parish will take part in a sermon series as a part of our parish’s Annual Appeal for 2020. This series will include our clergy and guests who will preach on themes exploring the joys and responsibilities of our common life. Join us at our 11am services for this fine array of preaching.

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Fr. Michael Lapsley SSM

Fr. Michael Lapsley SSM

This past Sunday at Choral Evensong we welcomed our guest preacher, the Reverend Michael Lapsley SSM. Father Lapsley is a South African Anglican priest and social justice activist who established the Institute for Healing of Memories. He founded IHOM after suffering a brutal attack from a letter bomb, losing both of his hands and an eye. Since that time, the Institute’s work has become a global movement that recognizes the emotional and spiritual traumas of this world as it works to redeem the past through prevention, empowerment, and healing. The Institute celebrates that which is life-giving, while laying to rest that which is destructive.

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Our Lady of Fifth Avenue

Fr. Turner and Fr. Spencer invite members of the Society of Mary, the Society of Our Lady of Walsingham, and those who are interested, to join them for Mass on Saturday, November 23 in the Chantry Chapel.  Then, at 12:45pm, the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary will be prayed at the Shrine of our Lady of Fifth Avenue.

Following the praying of the Rosary, a simple lunch will be served in the Living Room of the Parish House with a presentation on the Shrine of our Lady of Walsingham and a discussion on re-establishing a prayer cell here at Saint Thomas.  Contributions of $10 for the lunch are invited.

Because of the provided lunch, we are asking for all those interested in taking part to sign up at the Reception Desk of the Parish House starting this coming Sunday, Oct. 13.  Alternatively, click on the register for lunch via email.

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Do you have an extra seat or two at your Thanksgiving table? We are matching parishioners that will be looking for company this Thanksgiving with parishioners that would like to host a guest or two for dinner.

For more details, please contact Linda Morfi via email or at 212-757-7013.

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