Sunday, July 29, 2012
DOWN MEMORY LANE, NOSTALGIA, LA BEFANA AND GRIEF
I celebrated the 10:30 AM Sung Mass at the Church of the Most Holy Trinity this Sunday morning. I was the pastor there from June 3, 1991 until June 30, 2004. I had not celebrated a Sunday Mass there since I departed on June 30th, 2004. It was wonderful and it was great seeing so many people I haven't seen in a long time and to see all the new faces there too.
Most Holy Trinity has always had a long tradition of fine choirs and liturgies. They did not disappoint this morning and we sung it all, from metrical hymns to the official Introit, Offertory and Communion antiphons. The choir director and organist at the historic Jardine Pipe Organ is Dr. Nancy Sutton. The Jardine goes back 1863 but Jardine and Company didn't want to break the north's blockade of the south and so it languished on a dock in New York, until in 1866, Most Holy Trinity's associate Pastor, the priest-poet of the south (Confederacy) Father Abram Ryan, gave poetry readings and raised the money to bring it to Augusta. It was historically and completely restored with pump action (and also electricity) in 1995.
Most Holy Trinity is the perfect place for the Extraordinary Form of the Mass which has only been celebrated once since SP there. Pray that they are allowed it more frequently as there is a huge group in the metro Augusta area that would appreciate it.
Sadly though, one of my very good friends and former parishioner at Most Holy Trinity, Mrs. Cheti Warner died on Friday of from a brief illness. This is her obituary:
NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. - Entered into rest Friday, July 27, 2012, Mrs. Cheti Paola Warner, 66, wife of the late Clifford E. Warner. Mrs. Warner was a native of Vicenza, Italy, but has lived in the Augusta area since 1965. She retired as a hairdresser after 50 years of making people feel beautiful. Mrs. Warner was a member of the Church of the Most Holy Trinity and was active in PCCW and worked as the hospitality coordinator for the church. Family members include son: Clifford E. Warner II (Michelle); daughter: Angela Randall; and granddaughters: Baliegh Alexis Warner, Elizabeth Cheti Warner, and the late Gabrielle Elizabeth Warner. A memorial mass will be held Monday, July 30, 2012 at 12:15 P.M. at Church of the Most Holy Trinity with Fr. Allan McDonald celebrant.
Shortly after I arrived at Most Holy Trinity in 1991 she became a very active member and as indicated in the obituary she was active with the Council of Catholic Women, but her greatest gift and ministry was cooking and organizing our fabulous parish receptions for all kinds of events, including the many "First Solemn Mass" receptions for parishioners who were ordained priests for our diocese and religious orders.
She was a native Italian and would also cook our special meals for big events at the rectory and always in the Italian Vincenza style and all the courses. It was fabulous, absolutely fabulous and will always be a highlight of my ministry there.
She also cut my hair for the past 20 years. I'm always in Augusta every Monday for my day off and to visit my aging mother. So Cheti would always cut my hair at her salon. I just kidded her about two months ago saying that I had aged in the mirror I sat in front of as she cut my hair for the past 20 years. How is it that the mirror stayed the same and I changed so much (not really). God rest her soul!
My mother tried to keep the Italian custom at Epiphany of La Befana who brings toys to children on it's eve. My father did not like the custom and did not allow it once we moved from Italy to Atlanta in 1957.
"Italy's traditional celebration includes the tale of a witch known as La Befana who arrives on her broomstick during the night of January 5 and fills the stockings with toys and sweets for the good children and lumps of coal for the bad ones.
According to the legend, the night before the Wise Men arrived at the manger they stopped at the shack of an old woman to ask directions. They invited her to come along but she replied that she was too busy. Then a shepherd asked her to join him but again she refused. Later that night, she saw a great light in the sky and decided to join the Wise Men and the shepherd bearing gifts that had belonged to her child who had died. She got lost and never found the manger.
Now La Befana flies around on her broomstick each year on the 11th night, bringing gifts to children in hopes that she might find the Baby Jesus. Children hang their stockings on the evening of January 5 awaiting the visit of La Befana."
Well leave it to Cheti to give me La Befana's presents each Epiphany for the past 20 years. She never gave me a lump of coal!
I will miss her smile, hospitality and Italian love.