Baptism of Christ
from illuminated  Armenian Gospel book,  ca. 1455
from the Monastery of Gameliel,
Walters Museum of Art, Baltimore

Sunday, January 13
The Baptism of Our Lord

7:30 a.m. Morning Prayer 
8:00 a.m. Said Mass (Rite I)
9:00 a.m. Sung Mass 
11:00 a.m. Solemn High Mass 

Charles Gounod (1818-1893) Quatrième messe solennelle: Messe chorale sur l'intonation de la liturgie catholique

"You are my Son, the Beloved;
with you I am well pleased
."  Luke  3:22

This Week at Ascension + January 9, 2019


From the Rector
Also from the Rector
2019 Parish Directory in Progress
Flower Guild News
Ascension hosts Chicago AGO
This Sunday at Ascension
The Parish Prayer List
Approved Vestry Minutes Online
The Last Word


Yes, but how can I find my star?

" ...  there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising,
until it stopped over the place where the child was ."   - Matthew 2:9

Dear people of Ascension,
  Responding to my Epiphany sermon, a parishioner said, "Yes! But how can I find my star?" A good question. I gather many of us ask it, or a variation of it. I'm no star-tracking expert, but we may find guidance in the Epiphany text from Matthew.
  The designation magi, wise men, suggests that seeking was their life's work, not merely a hobby. For most of us, finding our star or stars relies on long-cultivated devotion and becoming aware of and able to name our most important life work or works.
  They stopped to ask questions. Hmmm. It seems they embarked on their journey without knowing their final destination. At a critical point, they did know what they didn't know. It was time to stop and listen.
   Sometimes others see or comprehend our stars better than we do. Sometimes we feel foolish asking questions when in fact it's what wise men and women do. Am I asking the right questions, at the right time, of the right people?
  They were partly led by dreams, reinforcing the whole mysterious aspect of the story. When are dreams, hunches and other 'signs' divine guidance and when are they more likely just wacky?
   Then there's this: Even if and when we don't have The Dream and we're unsure of the overall map of our lives, or even when all stars are obscured by a storm, most of us likely do know when a given action or word or choice is drawing us closer to or luring us farther away from Christ.
  One more observation about those wise ones of old: They traveled together. Who are my most trusted spiritual traveling companions? How do I cultivate those relationships? What would it be like to think of a Christian congregation as a traveling caravan of magi?

Please note that this will be a particularly BIG newsletter. I hope that you'll read all the way through to parishioner Mary Jane Kowalski's Epiphany reflection in today's Last Word and that along the way you will recognize the importance in features such as those that ready us for the upcoming church interior project (starting January 21) and our January 27 annual meeting, and more!

The Annual Meeting will begin at Noon on Sunday, January 27, following a 10:00 a.m. Solemn High Mass. We don't at this point have a meal plan. Please let me know if you are willing and able to help - or plan to be at peace with some hunger pains if a hospitality plan isn't in place ... soon. 
Those presented to the Vestry for nomination (by the Vestry Nominating Committee) include  Gary Alexander (Warden) and Marilyn Evans, Lynette Hector, Patrick Johnston, David Reeves , and Amber Zelazny (Vestry Members). We hope to include their nomination information and statements in next week's newsletter. Meanwhile ...
+ My apology to Patrick Johnston. I inadvertently omitted him from the list of nominees that was shared in last week's newsletter.

The list of Voting Members as of December 31, 2018, has been prepared by me with participation by the Wardens and Vestry members and Br. Nathanael in the parish office. Out of respect for your confidentiality, we are  not including the list here but we will have a few printed copies available on coming Sundays and/or you may call or email the parish office to inquire if you're on (or off) the list.
Please help us prepare an accurate 2019 parish directory! Send an email to or call the parish office OR look for Vestry members at coffee hour for the coming two Sundays. Please confirm the accuracy of present information or provide corrections or changes to information for you or others in your household, or make sure we have your information if you're a newcomer. We hope to have new directories available at the January 27 annual meeting.
Worship Attendance Information is not technically a part of the Annual Meeting, but we do compile it from sacristy records at year's end for the annual parochial report provided to our diocese and to the national Episcopal church. A summary is provided below, and you may view the same summary with explanatory notes by clicking here. You may also see the complete record of attendance for every Sunday service for the 53 Sundays in 2018 by clicking here.

Annual Meeting Reports with nominee statements, individual ministry and program reports, a summary of financial reports will be provided by Wednesday, January 23,
or sooner if available.
If you are responsible for Annual Meeting Report information ... please get it to the parish office by the end of this week if at all possible.
+ If you have other Annual Meeting questions, please direct them as seems best to our Wardens (Chris Raymond and Cynthia Perrizo), Treasurer (Susan Schlough), to the parish office (Br. Nathanael) or to me. Thank you.
We'll commemorate the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at both masses next Wednesday, January 16. And meanwhile the people of St. Martin's Episcopal Church, Chicago, invite all who are interested to an additional commemoration in the form of a screening of the film The Long Shadow. Please view the invitation from the people of St. Martin's on the flyer linked here. The Prayer Book Collect for the Human Family (p. 815) seems apropos at this time, not only as we remember Dr. King but also in light of other matters of national and global concern to all of us:
O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son:
Look with compassion on the whole human family;
take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts;
break down the walls that separate us;
unite us in bonds of love;
and work through our struggle and confusion
to accomplish your purposes on earth;
that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you
in harmony around your heavenly throne;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Wardens, Vestry Members and I will be undertaking a Mutual Ministry Review in coming weeks - an opportunity to exchange views on performance of all key parish leaders. As in 2017, the Review will be facilitated by Mother Andrea Mysen, Director of Ministries for the Diocese of Chicago. You may view the material and format provided by the diocese here. And you are welcome to share any related thoughts, as appropriate, with your Wardens, Vestry members or me.

Please keep in mind the major church interior project that will begin Monday, January 21. Scaffolding will be erected in the sanctuary to perform tuck pointing on the arch over the sanctuary and to re-plaster and repaint the wall over it. The project is scheduled to continue through February. At the request of our musicians, we will attempt to preserve worship in the church, although a temporary altar will be used on the 'pavement' (nave level) and Communion received standing up. Some weekday masses will take place in the narthex or elsewhere, and plans may well change from week to week as we evaluate conditions. Thanks for remaining curious and nimble.
Love Undivided is the theme of the 2019 national conference for the organization known as Qchristian, describing itself as " a diverse community with varied backgrounds, cultures, theologies and denominations, drawn together through our love of Christ and our belief that every LGBTQ+ person, indeed,  every  person is a beloved child of God." Clergy and laity from diverse congregations in the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago will be volunteering at a table in the exhibit area to engage conference participants in the ministries of the Episcopal Church. Any Ascension members interested in helping at the table may contact Mother Stacy Alan, Chaplain at Brent House, on the University of Chicago campus. More information on the conference may be viewed here.
Thanks to Artists David Lee Csicsko for giving us a tour this past Saturday of his works at the Loyola University Museum of Art. And thanks to Cynthia Perrizo and Gary Alexander for their respective parts in organizing the Ascension Connections event. I believe all who took part found it worthwhile. Meanwhile, the artist's works and related exhibits continue at LUMA through January 19.

David Lee Csicsko (yellow hat) and the Ascension Connections group at LUMA

Holy Smokes! I love the fact that a photo of Ascension thuribles that I posted this past week in conjunction with Epiphany received more 'likes' - 72! - than any other photo I've posted to our church Instagram account since we began it nearly two years ago (in February 2017).
My Epiphany sermon may be viewed here.


DID YOU MOVE? CHANGE YOUR PHONE NUMBER OR EMAIL ADDRESS? Please take a moment on Sunday, January 13th to verify your Parish Directory contact information in one of  two 2019 draft directories by checking with  DiAnne Walsh after the 9 a.m. or with Cynthia Perrizo after the 11 a.m. masses.

You may also send corrections via email to the Church Office.

Did you know that donors for Sunday flowers are needed most Sundays of the year , and that a flower gift may be given as a memorial or thanksgiving? There are four opportunities each Sunday. Flowers may be donated for the High Altar, for the Shrine of The Blessed Virgin Mary, for the Shrine of St. Michael, and for the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. Please see the sign up sheets on the bulletin board in the back hallway on the first floor of the parish house.  For more info,  contact Cliff Green .

The Flower Guild is also looking for new members to purchase (reimbursable) and arrange Sunday flowers for the High Altar and three shrines. This is a fun and rewarding ministry. Volunteers will be given training if necessary, and you can even work with a partner if you like. All that is required is that you sign up to do the flowers one time per month. Please help us to beautify God's house. To volunteer, contact Cliff Green or any member (Avril Hector, Carol NorenCheryl Peterson, DiAnne Walsh) of the Flower Guild.
Jay Peterson

Our parish will be the site for an American Guild of Organists choral conductors' workshop on Saturday, January 19, from 8:30-1:00. The widely recognized workshop leaders will be our own choirmaster, Benjamin Rivera, and Paul French, choirmaster at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel on Belmont. The workshop participants will serve as the "choir" and will hear of multiple ways for achieving success with amateur choristers. Parishioner Jay Peterson is the Chair of the event, and Ascension organist, David White, will assist.


The  Sunday Lectionary readings Schedules of Acolytes, Lectors & Ushers as well as Hymnody, Motets and Organ Voluntaries for  Sunday, January 13, 2019  may be found by clicking  here

The Lector's Pronunciation Guide may be found here .


Please remember these people in your daily prayers
Geoffrey Wainwright, Fr. John Graham, Dorothy Murray, Mary Lou Devens, Michael Milano, Thomas Holden, Brenton Boitse, Charley Taylor, David Belding, Jr., August 'Augie' Alonzo, Ann Halikas, Fr. Richard Daly, Kenvert Samuel, Carnola Malone, James Krusas Sr., Regina Krusas, Dean Pineda, Ted Long, Jim Berger

Prayers for the departed
Prayers have been requested for the repose of the soul of  Harold Alfonso Paul , M.D., M.P.H. Click on the hyperlink above to read Dr. Paul's obituary, shared by Prof. Edward Minieka.

Rest eternal grant unto them, O Lord: and let light perpetual shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

The Approved Minutes of Vestry meetings are now available online to parishioners who request the link.  If you would like Internet access to the Approved Vestry Minutes, please email the  Church Office and request the link. 
Once you access the web page, you can read all recent Approved Vestry Minutes.  In addition, if you click on the subscribe button at the top right, you will be given email notice whenever a new set of Approved Minutes is added. 

Parishioner Mary Jane Kowalski shared a beautiful Epiphany memory with me by way of email earlier this week, and I'm grateful she's welcomed me to share the main part of it with you here as this week's Last Word. Thanks, Mary Jane!   - Patrick +
My junior year of undergrad, I was an exchange student at Universidad de Puerto Rico in Río Piedras (a suburb of San Juan).  I did not live with a family; rather, I lived off campus with several others from the exchange program.  My goals were to become fluent in Spanish and to gain a better appreciation of the Puerto Rican culture through participation in various activities sponsored both on & off campus. 
During winter break, one of my Puerto Rican friends invited me to spend a few days with his relatives in the campo of an eastern coastal town, Humacao.  We arrived mid-day January 5th, and everyone was getting ready for la Epifanía. His little cousins showed me their shoes/sandals filled with hay that they put under the bed for the camels of los Tres Reyes Magos, who would be coming overnight while they were sleeping, and they even put out a hay-filled shoe for me.  When they would wake up the next morning, they said, the Reyes Magos would have left them presents under the bed next to their footwear, and the hay would be gone.
That same night around 8-9 PM, the excited little kids insisted I come outside with them to see los Reyes Magos up in the sky.  Being in the campo, the stars shone brightly. They pointed to a straight line of three evenly-spaced stars in a straight line. "¡Ya vienen!", they screamed. The stars were proof: They're coming!  Yes, the kids were right!
While we all slept, los Reyes Magos brought gifts for all, and their camels were well fed.  At daybreak on the 6th, the little ones woke us all up, and there were gifts for all.  
So, if you go outside and carefully look up in the clear early-night sky (around 9-10 PM) this time of year, you will definitely see the stars of The Three Kings. When I told this to Tim years ago (and I dragged him outside in the cold to view them!), he said it's also known as the Belt of Orion.  However, to me, they'll always be los Tres Reyes Magos.  

Fr. Patrick Raymond,

Susan Schlough,      

Parish Office