As I write this, the State of New York approaches its goal of a 70% vaccination rate for adults and I already notice a change in the mood of people who live and work near the Church, the Choir School, and the Rectory. However, as I also listen to the news in the United Kingdom, which has been very successful in its own vaccination program, I also know that we cannot be complacent and that the new so-called ‘Delta’ variant is causing an increase in infections. For the time being, we will continue with social distancing and masking but it is clear that relaxation of restrictions is imminent in our State.
News About Our Theologian in Residence
If you have been one of the many people who have experienced Fr. Cheng’s extraordinary adult education classes, you will know how much care and attention he gives to them. The number of people attending and viewing the classes on a regular basis has more than doubled during the pandemic, and those who use the on-demand recordings has grown also. After two years of very hard work, and fourteen months during a pandemic, Fr. Cheng has made the decision to step down from his role in delivering the adult education and formation program.
As many of you know, Fr. Cheng is a Senior Vice President at the Church Pension Group, where he leads their benefits compliance unit. That role, in itself, is a significant undertaking, and so we have been so blessed with the large amount of time he has given the parish over these past two years. As CPG comes out of the pandemic, Fr. Cheng feels that he needs to focus most of his time on that work. He met with the Standing Committee and some of the senior staff and clergy this week and advised us on the best way to continue our adult education and formation program, which has become one of the hallmarks of Saint Thomas Church over many years.
However, I am pleased to tell you that Fr. Cheng will not be leaving us! He will remain an Honorary Assistant Priest, and he and Michael will continue to be members of Saint Thomas Church. To that end, I am delighted that he will continue to hold the title Theologian in Residence, occasionally preaching and teaching, and offering theological reflection and advice when needed. All of us have found Fr. Cheng to be an exemplary priest and teacher and a faithful colleague. We will soon begin the search for his successor who will have the title Associate for Adult Education and Formation and be part of the clergy and pastoral team.
Fr. Cheng and Michael will be moving from the Choir School by the end of August, and his last ‘official Sunday’ in his current role will be August 15 – the Feast of St. Mary the Virgin. Fr. Cheng will preach at the 11am mass. We will then hold a virtual coffee hour via Zoom (though it may be possible by then to do this in-person AND on-line), and I hope that many who attend his classes will want to come to honor him.
There will be a short break in the program as we re-group, and we hope to resume in-person/on-line classes by September 19. More details will be available as we approach that date. Fr. Cheng will continue to be part of the Advisory Council for Adult Education, and I am sure that his successor as Associate Priest for Adult Education and Formation will find his presence there invaluable.
Finally, the last of the wonderful series of Beethoven Piano Sonata concerts takes place on Saturday, June 19. You can find details below. These concerts are now in-person as well as available via the livestream and on-demand. if you have not yet caught up on these remarkable concerts, you have really missed out! The quality of the playing is breathtaking; the new camera system, together with our digital-quality sound, is phenomenal; but the interweaving of short interviews with remarkable people by filmmaker Zac Nicholson is both edifying as well as entertaining – have a look using the links in the Concerts section below!
Your Priest and Pastor,