Outreach in December

The St. Mary’s community made possible several Outreach successes in December. The first was the clothing drive, which attracted enough donations to fill a U-Haul van! These donations came from St. Mary’s parishioners and from the wider community thanks to some great work spreading the word outside of the church. These donations will go to common cathedral and other organizations for housing insecure people.
The second was the New Falls gift card drive. For the last several years, we’ve provided a gift card for every child at New Falls. This year, New Falls has 41 children living in the complex. This was a higher goal than prior years but St. Mary’s exceeded it! St. Mary’s parishioners donated over $1,100 in gift cards for our neighbors at New Falls. Thank you to everyone who participated for your generosity.
Third, the Outreach Committee and the Vestry approved $4,000 in end of year donations from the Outreach Fund with an extra boost provided by an end of year donation from a parishioner specifically for local food banks. St. Mary’s donated to food banks in Newton, Needham, Wellesley and Natick as well as donations for United Way Cafe, Rosie’s Place, common cathedral and Greater Boston Interfaith Organization.
Lastly, our church was able to collect and donate over 300 food items to the Wellesley Food Pantry and the Brookline Food Pantry. The donations also allowed us to put out all 288 luminarias around the church and up Concord Street on Christmas Eve. It was a beautiful display of light. A special thank you goes to Quebrada Baking Company in Wellesley – they donated all of the luminaria bags!

Saint Mary’s Winter Clothing Drive, Saturday, December 5 10am-12pm

Outreach: Winter Clothes Drive: St. Mary’s is conducting a winter clothes drive this coming Saturday, December 5, from 10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. in the church driveway. We are collecting gently used or new winter items such as:
  • Clothing (including hats, gloves, mittens, scarfs)
  • Sleeping bags
  • Blankets
  • Disposable handwarmers
These donations will be given to:
  • common cathedral (serving Boston’s homeless and indigent population)
  • Catie’s Closet (clothing for students in need)
  • Cradles to Crayons (clothing for infants to preschoolers)
  • Various agencies serving the needs of adults (clothing)
Please consider giving to this drive and spreading the word to your family, friends, and neighbors, particularly since the pandemic has local charities serving more people than ever. If you have any questions, or if you have items that need to be delivered/picked up at a different time, please contact Amy Molloy.

Saint Mary’s Spotlight on Outreach

In April, as the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning to impact every aspect of life, the Outreach committee, compromised of Lynn Farnell, Andrea Gordon, Tim Green, Kyle Marchesseault and Ann Wessel, and Vestry approved dispersals to several organizations working to support members of our wider community. Recipients of these dispersals included:

-> Common Cathedral to support people experiencing homelessness

-> Mass Bay Community College Emergency Grant Fund to help students in need

-> United Way Pearl St. Cupboard & Café to support food insecure individuals

-> Rosie’s Place to support women experiencing homelessness

-> Esperanaza Academy to support their student community and take advantage of a gift matching opportunity

-> Food pantries in Newton, Needham and Wellesley

St. Mary’s has also continued to support immigrant students at Mass Bay Community College with their studies. So far in 2020, St. Mary’s paid tuition fees for five classes for Mass Bay students. Funds for these classes come from St. Mary’s Outreach funds as well as the Barbara Robinson Fund. Thank you to Lynn Farnell and Kyle Marchesseault for being the point people on this.
In addition to monetary donations, St. Mary’s parishioners also addressed an acute need created by COVID-19 — the need for personal protective equipment. Kitty Smith and Tim Green were part of a group of individuals who worked with WeStar Alliance, a community of Chinese-American professionals in Weston, to import and distribute more than 5,500 masks to common cathedral, The Women’s Lunch Program, Rosie’s Place, Epiphany School, St. Mary’s Dorchester’s food pantry, Haley House and several nursing homes including Elizabeth Seton (Wellesley), Goddard House (Brookline) and the Diocese-operated Sherrill House (JP). Masks were also provided to shut-in members of St. Mary’s. Thank you to Kitty and Tim for all their work.
At the end of the summer, we also continued our annual school supply drive for our neighbors at New Falls apartments. St. Mary’s parishioners pitched in to purchase backpacks and school supplies for 23 students at New Falls. Amidst all the lack of normalcy this year, it was great to be able to help our neighbors at New Falls again. Thank you to everyone who donated bookbags.
Through St. Mary’s book drive this fall, hundreds of books have been donated to More Than Words, an online, retail, pop-up, and wholesale bookselling businesses. More Than Words is a nonprofit social enterprise that empowers young adults who are in the foster care system, court-involved, homeless, or out of school to take charge of their lives by taking charge of a business. Picture the number of books delivered to its Waltham location as filling the truck and back seat of a Subaru Outback two times! More Than Words’ donation volume is down, so whatever we can add to their inventory will be greatly appreciated. Although this book drive ends on October 31st, as books mount up again, please set them aside to donate to the next drive that will take place this winter. Before going virtual, St. Mary’s also collected items from the “little red wagon” to donate to A Place to Turn, a food pantry serving MetroWest clients, and collected toiletries to Rosie’s Place. Thank you to everyone who donated books and to Amy Molloy for her ideas and many deliveries!
Members and friends of St. Mary’s Stitch and Chat continue to combine their skills to create knitted and crocheted afghans. So far, more than a dozen afghans have found new homes. Adult-size blankets were given to Hale House, a residential care facility for seniors in Boston. Baby and youth-size blankets were given to Hugcrafters, a Newton-based charity that distributes afghans to hospitals and rehab facilities throughout the Boston area. Check out its heartwarming project and meet Diane Donnellan, the, spirit and master crafter behind, and in front of, Hugcrafters. https://www.facebook.com/hugcrafters. Look for opportunities to join in making afghans this winter! Thank you, members and friends of Stitch and Chat!
The Book of Common Prayer offers this thanksgiving for the mission of the church:
Almighty God, you sent your Son Jesus Christ to reconcile the world to yourself: We praise and bless you for those whom you have sent in the power of the Spirit to preach the Gospel to all nations. We thank you that in all parts of the earth a community of love has been gathered together by their prayers and labors, and that in every place your servants call upon your Name; for the kingdom and the power and the glory are yours forever. Amen (BCP, 838).
– Kyle Marchesseault, Outreach Chair
– Amy Molloy, Vestry Member

Updated Sunday Schedule, In Person Worship Resumes

Our Sunday schedule for the fall, starting Sunday, September 13:

9:00 a.m. Outdoor, In Person Morning Prayer – Advance sign up required

10:00 a.m. Online Morning Prayer

11:00 a.m. Church School for Children with Godly Play Story (ages 3-grade 3)

11:30 a.m. Church School for Youth (grades 4 and up)


Protocols for Sunday Outdoor Services

  • Attendance will be capped at 30 to comply with outdoor square footage safety standards. Please sign up no more than every other week.
  • Bring your own portable lawn chair/blanket.
  • Wear your own mask the entire time and keep 6 feet between people of different households at all times, including before and after the service.
  • Check in with the greeter in front of the church building before going to the lawn.
  • The outdoor service will be cancelled if it rains. Enter your cell phone number to get a text on the Sign Up Genius.
  • The restrooms and buildings will not be open yet on Sunday mornings.
  • Anyone with the following symptoms within 24 hours of the service should not attend: fever at or over 100.2, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, and/ or new loss of taste or smell.

Weekly Updates are Paused

Given the weird times we are currently in, we have paused the weekly updates on our blog.

The best way to stay in touch with what is happening is to subscribe to our weekly email updates – CLICK HERE to do so. This includes the information on how to join our weekly Sunday services, as well as other online programs that St. Mary’s and others in our diocese are offering.

If you cannot join our services in real time, you can view recordings on our YouTube Channel by CLICKING HERE.

We are still planning to resume Sunday services at the church in September. More information will be posted as available.

Online Giving Now Available!

We thank all members and everyone else who has generously given to St. Mary’s. You can now do so online at the link below:

I’m writing to let you know you may now donate online to Saint Mary’s Episcopal Church in Newton Lower Falls. There are several different options. Payments may go towards a pledge if you pledge; you may use a credit card or your banking account; you may choose to give once or monthly. You may even choose to absorb the transactional costs. Your support of Saint Mary’s is very much appreciated, and we hope this new, contactless option makes it easier for you to give. Of course you are welcome to continue giving by check via the postal service.

Click here to make an online donation!

Faith cannot make every day easier all the time, nor does it stop bad things from happening. What faith can do is ground us within a larger narrative in order to remind us that we are not alone. Saint Mary’s has been here and active for over two hundred years: through the Civil War, through both World Wars, through the Great Depression, and much, much more. That Saint Mary’s has weathered difficult times in the past is due to the grace of God and the generosity of her parishioners. Thank you for being part of a faithful tradition and community.

Take good care.

Update Letter on Church Services from The Rector and Wardens

Dear People and Friends of Saint Mary’s,

It is difficult to believe that more than three months have passed since we were last together in person for worship. St. Mary’s adapted quickly to remain active: Sunday worship online; Christian formation for all ages; virtual fellowship through Zoom coffee hours, BINGO, trivia, Circles of Care, online meetups, and phone calls; significant contributions to local nonprofits that support vulnerable populations in Massachusetts. Learning to be the church and to do the work of the church in a new way has been a challenge.

Governor Charlie Baker announced that houses of worship are permitted to gather for public worship under strict guidelines of occupancy, social distancing, and CDC outlined cleaning procedures, starting May 18. However, each parish in the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts is under the canonical authority of the Bishop of Massachusetts. In coordination with the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts, our bishops and an advisory team released a fifteen-page regathering plan that may allow public worship as early as July 1, provided certain public health criteria, as well as church specific criteria, are met. This document, “A Journey By Stages”, provides four stages for regathering in person. These stages are keyed to public health indicators, rather than to specific timelines. Right now we are in “Stage One” of the guidelines. These stages will stretch on for weeks, months, and maybe even years, in order to ensure that our parishes do not become transmission epicenters like ones you’ve read about in the news.

Most of the Episcopal church population, by virtue of being older, or sustaining underlying conditions, falls into the “high-risk” category for COVID-19. To that end, the protocols are stringent. “Church” as you remember it pre-COVID does not return until “Stage Four,” when a vaccine is developed and widely available; that is probably more than a year away.

By way of illustration, in-person worship in “Stage Two” states the following:

• Higher risk individuals (over the age of 60 or with underlying medical conditions) encouraged to participate online, not in person
• New “reservation” and pew/sanctuary occupancy restrictions
• All attendees and officiants in masks
• New cleaning protocols pre- and post-service
• No congregational singing or choir
• No communion
• No hymnals, Bibles, or Books of Common Prayer in the pews
• No childcare or in-person children’s programming
• No coffee hour or post-service fellowship

In other words, many of the things that we consider to be vital to church, like the choir, congregational singing, communion, nursery, children’s programming, and coffee hour will have to be reimagined and reintroduced. “Stage Three” has modified communion, coffee-hour, and youth group (but no nursery care). There are logistical hurdles to the implementation of each and every stage which will require efforts of many, not a few.

Given the significant logistical challenges of Stage Two, listed above, paired with staff vacation needs, our goal is to open for the first in-person worship service in September. Launching our in-person regathering in September will allow St. Mary’s to learn from other area institutions as they also take steps to come back in-person. A later physical regathering is also aligned with what many communities of worship are doing in the Newton-Wellesley area.

Although Massachusetts has been able to flatten the COVID curve for the moment, the states that have reopened are now experiencing spikes, and the trajectory of this disease remains uncertain. Our job and work ahead is to make sure that the parish survives the regathering process – a process geared toward protecting our current membership. As one of us, Cécile, the senior warden, has heard and repeated: “God will forgive us if we come back together too late. We may not forgive ourselves if we come back together too early.”

Please know that your help, patience, and prayer are necessary. Our in-person regathering will be cautious, deliberate, and thoughtful; also exhausting, and perhaps maddening to some who yearn to be together, right now, the way we once were. However, we must acknowledge that there is a lot beyond our control. Giving one another the benefit of the doubt, being kind whenever possible, and attempting to maintain a sense of humor and community in ways small and large will help us along the way. Know that we too are looking forward to being able to be together again.

“O God our heavenly Father: Increase our reverence before the mystery of life; and give us new insight into your purposes for humanity, and new wisdom and determination in making provision for its future in accordance with your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen” (adapted from BCP 828).

Ann Bonner-Stewart, Rector
Nate Hylan, Junior Warden
Cécile Tucker, Senior Warden

National Day of Mourning and Lament, June 1, 2020

This day has been organized by more than 100 interfaith leaders and is meant “to mourn, lament, and honor the dead, acknowledge the unequal nature of our suffering, pray together for the healing of the nation, and recommit to the difficult work ahead.” It was organized before the events of this weekend and is even more needed and poignant now.

“O God of grace and glory, we remember before you this day all who have died. We thank you for giving them to us, and to their family and friends, to know and to love as a companion on our earthly pilgrimage. In your boundless compassion, console all who mourn. Give us faith to see in death the gate of eternal life, so that in quiet confidence we may continue our course on earth, until, by your call, we are reunited with those who have gone before; through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

DIY Retreat Day 4

Scripture of the Day

Our scripture today is Luke 10:17-24, in which Jesus thanks God that wisdom has been revealed to the children. The wisdom of God is not reserved for the powerful. The wisdom of God is not reserved for clergy. The wisdom of God is offered to all who would hear these stories as children.

In hearing the stories of Jesus, we become like children. Indeed, we can be led by little children as we hear these stories in a new way. This is why in Church School we always ask questions like “What was your favorite part?” “Was there a part that was most important? “Is any part of the story about you?” With each answer offered by the children, we can hear the story afresh and discover something new.

We can pray this passage by saying, “Jesus, I need your wisdom.” Even these few words can help us know what we are to do. We can also thank God for this wisdom, saying simply “Thank you.” Just those two words are a powerful prayer we can pray when we feel we know which way to go.

Scavenger Hunt

Don’t forget to send in all of your pictures. We’d like to collect them by next Sunday, Pentecost.


Story of St. Julian

Breath Prayers

All Shall Be Well
This tune is a chant based on Julian of Norwich’s prayer “All shall be well.”

We hope you’ve had as much fun with this as we have! Don’t forget that you can still watch any of the videos you missed this week. Have a good week, and peace be with you!

In peace,

Andrew, Kirsten, and Ann