Grace Notes

VOLUME 3, NUMBER 24, MAY 6, 2012

The May Crowning and Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary
This Sunday we will “crown” Our Lady of Westwood at our shrine after a procession at the end of the 10am Mass. She is actually already crowned (I placed the “crown” on her head and also crowned the Blessed Virgin Mary statue in my office on May Day—May 1), because, since she doesn’t have a fully three dimensional head, it’s too difficult to crown her during the liturgy. We will instead process at the end of Mass, making a station at her shrine and place extra flowers before her image, pray the Regina Coeli and incense will be offered there.

I have a personal devotion to Our Lady. Around the time when the Very Reverend J. C. Michael Allen, Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, St. Louis decided to retire, the bishop of Missouri at the time decided to place a hold on all ordination processes of candidates from the Cathedral until a new Dean was called. Dean Allen had been Dean for 22 years and the rule of thumb at the time was that a congregation can expect to wait a number of months equal to the number of years a previous Dean or Rector has been in place before a new priest is called. In other words, I was looking at an almost two year delay in my ordination process.

I talked about this to a friend who was at Yale getting a Ph.D. in Church History (now a priest in the Diocese of Texas), and he told me how, when his wife was having complications in her first pregnancy someone had recommended that he ask for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. While he had no experience with asking for the intercession of the saints (having been a Methodist growing up), he reluctantly gave it a try. He isn’t the superstitious type and he isn’t given to emotional extremes, but in short order, the complications in the pregnancy were cleared up, his wife gave birth to their first son and he was convinced that the Virgin Mary had actually interceded with her Son on behalf of his wife and son. He suggested I ask the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary about my ordination process.

If it was unusual for him, previously a Methodist, the idea was nearly idolatrous to me, an ex-Baptist. But something moved me to talk to her and I asked for her prayers. Shortly thereafter, the interim Dean met with the bishop and convinced him that I was ready to move on. There were many people who supported me and prayed for me on my way to ordination. I am convinced that the Blessed Virgin Mary’s prayers were among those prayers and were instrumental in my path to priesthood and I am grateful for her prayers.

The saints are not God or gods. But they are members of the Church, and so, no less than any of the members of the Church, may pray for us. The Blessed Virgin Mary is Queen of the Saints and is always ready to intercede with her Son on our behalf. If you have never asked her intercession, there is a booklet of devotions and prayers on the kneeler at the Shrine. If you decide to ask her prayers for you or a loved one, please ask her prayers for me, for Grace Church and for Westwood as well.

The Fifty Days of Easter continue. Happy Easter!

--Father Rhodes

NEW PARISH DIRECTORIES... An updated Parish Directory is available in the narthex. Please help yourself!

FOOD FOR FRIENDS, AN EASTER THOUGHT... Easter is the greatest feast of the Christian year and Christians feast in more than one sense. The Easter season lasts for 50 days, and surely during this time we can reach out to include needy persons in our celebration, especially by donating to the Food for Friends food barrel on Sundays through Pentecost, May 27 this year. The Food Pantry wish list asks specifically for tuna, cereal, peanut butter, rice, coffee, and pasta. Alternatively checks may be drawn in favor of St. Paul’s CDC and marked Food Pantry. Send checks directly to St. Paul’s at 451 Van Houten Street, Paterson, NJ 07501.

CASINO NIGHT AT CONGREGATION B’NAI ISRAEL... Our sister synagogue is holding a Casino night on Saturday, May 12, from 8pm to Midnight. Admission is $45/person in advance and $50/person at the door. This gets you $500 in play money to be used in casino style games with the chance to win raffle prizes and refreshments and noshes. The event is open to those who are 21 and older. For more information, please contact Susan Casper at

Ministers of the Assembly

May 6May 13
MP Officiant and LEM (8 am)Andy SmethurstCharles Keil
Lay EucharisticTheresa PeterTom Bisdale
Ministers (10 am)Jim DavidsonDebbi Geller
LectorChris ScottLarry Toppin
Intercessor (Prayers)Aki OkunlolaDaily Toppin
Chief ServerDebbi GellerBen Martin
AcolytesEmily ThomasDebbi Geller
Warren HirstiusEmily Thomas
ThuriferEvans RoacheLeslie Bisdale
UshersJim ClokeAkinola Okunlola
Janet DelaneyTheresa Okunlola
CountersAndy SmethurstRandy Scott
Aki OkunlolaKate Randall
Altar GuildLeslie BisdaleTheresa Peter
Daisy ToppinChris Scott
Coffee HourDaisy ToppinNancy Sobeck
Theresa OkunlalaUna Thomas