Archive for the ‘Saints of the 1870s’ Category

Feast of Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky (October 14)   2 comments

Above:  Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky

Image in the Public Domain

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SAMUEL ISAAC JOSEPH SCHERESCHEWSKY (MAY 31, 1831-OCTOBER 15, 1906)

Episcopal Bishop of Shanghai, and Biblical Translator

Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky was on of the great missionaries.

Schereschewsky, born in Tauroggen, Lithuania, the Russian Empire, on May 31, 1831, grew up in a devout Jewish family.  He began to study for the rabbinate in 1846.  In Breslau (1852-1854), to continue those studies, our saint encountered missionaries from the London Society for Promoting Christianity Amongst the Jews.  He also read the New Testament in Hebrew.  Schereschewsky converted to Christianity in 1854.

That year our saint emigrated to the United States, to matriculate at Western Theological Seminary, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to prepare for the Presbyterian ministry.  In 1857, however, Schereschewsky converted to The Episcopal Church and transferred to the General Theological Seminary, New York, New York.  He graduated in 1859, became a deacon that year, and left for Shanghai, China, as a missionary.  Our saint learned Chinese during the journey.  He, ordained to the priesthood in 1860, worked out of Beijing from 1862 to 1875.  He translated the Bible and much of The Book of Common Prayer into Mandarin during that time.

Schereschewsky served as the Bishop of Shanghai from 1877 to 1883.  He, paralyzed in 1881, spent 1882-1895 (1882-1886 in Switzerland) for medical treatment.  Our saint, who resigned in 1883, had helped to found St. John’s College, Shanghai, and begun to translate the Bible into Wenli.

Asia beckoned.  Schereschewsky and his loving wife, Susan Mary Waring (1836-1909), returned to Shanghai in 1895.  They relocated to Tokyo, Japan, two years later.  She helped him continue to translate the Bible into Wenli.  Our saint typed 2000 pages with just one finger, as well as Susan’s assistance.

Schereschewsky died in Tokyo on October 15, 1831.  He was 75 years old.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 1, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CHARLES DE FOUCAULD, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF DOUGLAS LETELL RIGHTS, U.S. MORAVIAN MINISTER, SCHOLAR, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF EDWARD TIMOTHY MICKEY, JR., U.S. MORAVIAN BISHOP AND LITURGIST

THE FEAST OF PETER MORTIMER, ANGLO-GERMAN MORAVIAN EDUCATOR, MUSICIAN, AND SCHOLAR; AND GOTTFRIED THEODOR ERXLEBEN, GERMAN MORAVIAN MINISTER AND MUSICOLOGIST

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O God, in your providence you called Joseph Schereschewsky from his home in Eastern Europe

to the ministry of this Church, and sent him as a missionary to China,

that he might translate the Holy Scriptures into languages of that land.

Lead us, we pray, to commit our lives and talents to you,

in the confidence that when you give your servants any work to do,

you also supply the strength to do it; through Jesus Christ, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Isaiah 12:1-6

Psalm 84:1-6

2 Corinthians 4:11-18

Luke 24:44-48

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 637

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Feast of Edith Cavell (October 12)   2 comments

Above:  A Stamp Depicting the Death of Edith Cavell

Image in the Public Domain

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EDITH LOUISA CAVELL (DECEMBER 4, 1865-OCTOBER 12, 1915)

English Nurse and Martyr, 1915

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I can’t stop while there are lives to be saved.

–Edith Cavell

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Edith Cavell comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Church of England, where her feast day is October 12.

Cavell, born in Swardeston, Norfolk, England, on December 4, 1865, grew up to become a pioneering nurse and a martyr.  Her father was a priest in The Church of England.  Our saint grew up in a loving home and shared a pleasant childhood with her siblings.  Cavell, a governess in Belgium (1890-1895), returned home and took care of her ailing father.  Next she studied nursing in London (1896-1898) and became a nurse.  After working in various hospitals, Cavell became the matron of the Berkendael Medical Institute, Brussels, Belgium, in 1907.  She revolutionized the nursing profession in Belgium and trained other nurses.

Cavell might have led a longer life had she not returned to Belgium in 1914, after the outbreak of World War I.  In the summer of 1914, when the Great War started, our saint was visiting relatives in Norfolk.  She knew she had to return to Belgium and work as a nurse, given the need for her abilities there.  Our saint, committed to saving lives, regardless of wartime politics, provided medical care to both Allied and Central Powers soldiers.  Saving the lives of military personnel of the Central Powers scandalized many on the Allied side.  On the other hand, when Cavell helped to smuggle more than 200 Allied soldiers out of German-occupied Belgium, she became a target for German military “justice.”  Our saint, arrested for treason on August 3, 1915, and later convicted, died via firing squad on the morning of October 12, 1915.  She was 49 years old.

On October 11, 1915, Cavell had told a visiting Anglican priest:

Standing as I do in view of God and eternity, I realize that patriotism is not enough.  I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone.

Yet the British Government counted on bitterness and hatred toward the German Empire for executing her.  The British Government used her death as part of a military recruitment strategy.

Cavell’s story has become the basis of movies:

  1. Nurse and Martyr (1915),
  2. The Martyrdom of Nurse Cavell (1916),
  3. Nurse Cavell (1916),
  4. The Woman the Germans Shot (1918),
  5. Dawn (1928),
  6. Nurse Edith Cavell (1939), and
  7. Nurse Cavell (1948).

Cavell’s legacy stands for the propositions that human life is sacred, and that a state of war does not alter, minimize, or negate this reality.  Nationalism and patriotism have their places, but when they dehumanize the “other,” they become morally destructive.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 10, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHANN NITSCHMANN, SR., MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND BISHOP; DAVID NITSCHMANN, JR., THE SYNDIC, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND BISHOP; AND DAVID NITSCHMANN, THE MARTYR, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN LUDWIG BRAU, NORWEGIAN MORAVIAN TEACHER AND POET

THE FEAST OF EDWARD BENSON WHITE, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

THE FEAST OF LOUIS FITZGERALD BENSON, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMNODIST

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Almighty and everlasting God, who kindled the flame of your love in the heart of your holy martyr Edith Cavell:

Grant to us, your humble servants, a like faith and power of love,

that we who rejoice in her triumph may profit by her example;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 15:15-21

Psalm 124 or 31:1-5

1 Peter 4:12-19

Mark 8:34-38

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 715

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Feast of Cecil Frances Alexander (October 12)   Leave a comment

Above:  Cecil Frances Alexander

Image in the Public Domain

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CECIL FRANCES HUMPHREYS ALEXANDER (1818/1823-OCTOBER 12, 1895)

Irish Anglican Hymn Writer

Cecil Frances Alexander comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via hymnody, to which she contributed greatly.  She wrote more than 400 hymns and poems (mostly for children), including “There is a Green Hill Far Away,” “Jesus Calls Us,” “All Things Bright and Beautiful,” “Once in Royal David’s City,” and “I Bind Unto Myself Today,” my favorite hymn.

Cecil Frances Humphreys, born in Miltown House, County Tyrone, Ireland, in 1818 or 1823, depending on the source one believes, was daughter of Major John Humphreys, of the Royal Marines.  She demonstrated her literary abilities at a young age, and, in 1848, published her first volume of poetry.  Two years later our saint married William Alexander (1824-1911), then the Anglican Rector of Termonamongan.  He became the Bishop of Derby and Raphoe in 1867 then the Archbishop of Armagh (the primate of The Church of Ireland) in 1896, as a widower.

Our saint was a woman of her Victorian times.  She pursued a literary career, for which she won acclaim.  Her finest poem, according to reputation, was “The Burial of Moses,” which Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892), said he wished he had written.  Our saint’s hymns and other poems, volumes of which she published, graced various Anglican hymnals of her time.  She also devoted herself to the tasks of a parson’s wife.  Furthermore, she was a philanthropist, caring actively for the poor and for “fallen women,” as well as supporting a school for deaf children in Londonderry financially.

Alexander died in Londonderry on October 12, 1895.  Her legacy of hymnody has survived her, fortunately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 10, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHANN NITSCHMANN, SR., MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND BISHOP; DAVID NITSCHMANN, JR., THE SYNDIC, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND BISHOP; AND DAVID NITSCHMANN, THE MARTYR, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN LUDWIG BRAU, NORWEGIAN MORAVIAN TEACHER AND POET

THE FEAST OF EDWARD BENSON WHITE, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

THE FEAST OF LOUIS FITZGERALD BENSON, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMNODIST

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Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

Cecil Frances Alexander and others, who have composed hymn texts.

May we, as you guide us,

find worthy hymn texts to be icons,

through which we see you.

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 44:1-3a, 5-15

Psalm 147

Revelation 5:11-14

Luke 2:8-20

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 20, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS AMATOR OF AUXERRE AND GERMANUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; SAINT MAMERTINUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AND SAINT MARCIAN OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

THE FEAST OF JOHANNES BUGENHAGEN, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCELLINUS OF EMBRUN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF OLAVUS AND LAURENTIUS PETRI, RENEWERS OF THE CHURCH

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Feast of John Raleigh Mott (October 3)   Leave a comment

Above:  John Raleigh Mott

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ggbain-22746

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JOHN RALEIGH MOTT (MAY 25, 1865-JANUARY 31, 1955)

U.S. Methodist Lay Evangelist, and Ecumenical Pioneer

It is a startling and solemnizing fact that even as late as the twentieth century, the Great Command of Jesus Christ to carry the Gospel to all mankind is still so largely unfulfilled….The church is confronted today, as in no preceding generation, to make Christ known.

–John Raleigh Mott, at the International Missionary Conference, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1910

John Raleigh Mott comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Episcopal Church, which has set his feast day as October 3.

The Episcopal Church added Mot to the then-new Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (published in 2010) at the General Convention of 2009.  His feast transferred to the successor volume, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016).  The General Convention of 2018 approved the addition of Mott’s feast to the Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018, the first revision of Lesser Feasts and Fasts since 2006.

Mott, born in Livingston Manor, New York, on May 25, 1865, devoted most of his adult life to missions.  Our saint, the third of four children, was the only son of Elmira Dodge and John Mott.  The family moved to Pottsville, Iowa, in September 1865.  There our saint’s father, a lumber merchant, served as mayor.  At the age of 16 years Mott matriculated at Upper Iowa University, Fayette, Iowa.  He transferred from the Methodist preparatory school and college to Cornell University in 1885.  In the summer of 1886 Mott represented the Cornell chapter of the Young Men’s Christian Association (Y.M.C.A.) at the first international conference of the Y.M.C.A.  Our saint, chapter president in 1886-1888, graduated in 1888, having majored in philosophy and history.  In 1891 he married Leila Ada White of Worster, Ohio.  The couple had four children–two daughters and two sons.

Meanwhile, Mott had commenced his career with the Y.M.C.A.  In September 1888 he began to serve as the National Secretary of the Intercollegiate Y.M.C.A. of the U.S.A. and Canada; he held that post for 27 years.  Concurrent portfolios included the following:

  1. General Secretary of the World Student Christian Federation (1895f);
  2. Assistant General Secretary, Y.M.C.A. (1901f);
  3. Presiding officer, International Missionary Conference, Edinburgh, Scotland (1910);
  4. General Secretary of the International Committee, Y.M.C.A. (1915-1928); and
  5. President of the World Committee, Y.M.C.A. (1926-1937).

Mott was an ecumenical pioneer.  The International Missionary Conference, held at Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1910, began the modern ecumenical movement, in which Mott remained active.  He also attended the Faith and Order Conference (Lausanne, Switzerland, 1927), served as the Vice President of the Second World Conference on Faith and Order (Edinburgh, Scotland, 1937), and was the Chairman of the Life and Work Conference (Oxford, England, 1937).  In 1948 our saint became the honorary lifelong Honorary President (1948f) of the new World Council of Churches.

Mott also engaged in civil services.  After he declined President Woodrow Wilson’s offer to become the Ambassador to China, our saint joined the Mexican Commission in 1916 and the Special Diplomatic Mission to Russia the following year.  During World War I Mott served as the General Secretary of the National War Work Council.  After the war our saint received the Distinguished Service Medal.

Mott, author of 16 books about missions, traveled widely on missions tours.  He received honors in foreign nations as well as the United States, and earned the trust of many people, including St Tikhon of Moscow (1865-1925), the Patriarch of Moscow.

Late in life, Mott received more honors.  He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1946.  He eventually became an honorary canon of Washington National Cathedral, also.

Mott, aged 89 years, died at home, in Orlando, Florida, on January 31, 1955.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 2, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF RALPH W. SOCKMAN, U.S. UNITED METHODIST MINISTER

THE FEAST OF CARL DOVING, NORWEGIAN-AMERICAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF JAMES ALLEN, ENGLISH INGHAMITE THEN GLASITE/SANDEMANIAN HYMN WRITER; AND HIS GREAT-NEPHEW, OSWALD ALLEN, ENGLISH GLASITE/SANDEMANIAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF PETRUS HERBERT, GERMAN MORAVIAN BISHOP AND HYMNODIST

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O God, the shepherd of all, we give you thanks for the lifelong commitment of your servant

John Raleigh Mott to the Christian nurture of students in many parts of the world;

and we pray that, after his example, we may strive for the weaving together of all peoples

in friendship, fellowship and cooperation, and while life lasts be evangelists for Jesus Christ,

in whom alone is our peace; and who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns,

one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Isaiah 60:1-5

Psalm 71:17-24

1 John 2:12-14

Luke 7:11-17

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 621

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Give us grace, O merciful God, to seek and serve you in all nations and peoples,

following the example of your servant John Raleigh Mott,

that all the peoples of the earth, who divided and enslaved by sin,

might be led into that glorious liberty that you desire for all your children;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom with you and the Holy Spirit

be all honor and glory, now and forever.  Amen.

Isaiah 60:1-5

Psalm 71:17-24

Luke 7:11-17

Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018

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Feast of Marie-Joseph Aubert (October 1)   Leave a comment

Above:  Mother Marie-Joseph Aubert

Image in the Public Domain

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MARIE-JOSEPH AUBERT (JUNE 19, 1835-OCTOBER 1, 1926)

Foundress of the Daughters of Our Lady of Compassion

Also known as Marie Henriette Suzanne Aubert and Meri

Mother Marie-Joseph Aubert comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.  There is also a cause for her canonization in the Roman Catholic Church.  The irony of that is wonderful, given how often Aubert was at odds with the hierarchy of her Church, especially in New Zealand.

(Marie Henriette) Suzanne Aubert, born in Saint-Symphorien-de-Lay, Loire, near Lyons, France, on June 19, 1835, was devout from an early age.  Her father was Louis Aubert, a bailiff.  Our saint’s mother was Henriette Catherine Clarice Périer.  Suzanne, disabled for a long time due to a childhood accident, recovered.  The experience contributed to her decision to spend her life helping the disabled, the deformed, and the seriously ill.  So did contact with Marists in Lyons.  St. Jean Baptiste Vianney (1746-1859) mentored Suzanne spiritually from her teens into her early twenties.  She became a nurse and served during the Crimean War.  Our saint also studied piano under the tutelage of Franz Liszt (1811-1886).  In September 1860 the 25-year-old saint, resisting family opposition to her intention to become a nun, joined the missionary expedition of Bishop François Pompallier to New Zealand.

Our saint spent most of the rest of her life in New Zealand.

She taught Maori girls in Auckland from 1860 to 1869.  During this period Suzanne Aubert became Sister Marie-Joseph of the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy, in June 1861.  The French-Irish order divided in 1862; the French nuns formed the Congregation of the Holy Family.  Bishop Pompallier left New Zealand in 1868 and resigned in March 1869.  His financial troubles caused the school to close and the Congregation of the Holy Family to disband.  Bishop T. W. Cooke, the next bishop to whom Aubert answered, ordered her to return to France.  Our saint disobeyed, replying,

I have come here for the Maoris, I shall die in their midst.  I will do what I like.

Aubert moved to Napier in February 1871; there she served in a lay capacity in the Marist Order’s Hawke’s Bay Mission, at the invitation of Father Euloge Reignier.  At that time our saint was a sister of the Third Order Regular of Mary.  At the Hawke’s Bay Mission she worked as a nurse, a catechist, and a teacher.  She, fluent in Maori, prepared and published a Maori-language catechism and prayer-book in 1879 and a Maori grammar in 1885.  She, known to the Maori as “Meri,” studied Maori herbal remedies and used them to supplement Western medicines.  Our saint also proved vital to the revival of the Marist mission in the Diocese of Wellington.  The mission, devastated by war during the 1860s, was short on priests.  Aubert’s persistence in lobbying Archbishop Francis Redwood and the leaders of the Marist Order led to the presence of more priests, including Father Christophe Soulas.

Aubert, Soulas, and three Sisters of Saint Joseph of Nazareth arrived at the Jerusalem Mission on the Wanganui River on July 8, 1883.  Personality and philosophical differences became evident quickly, leading to the departure of the Sisters of Saint Joseph the following year.  Soulas and Aubert, allies, eventually received permission to found a new diocesan order, the Daughters of Our Lady of Compassion (1892).  Aubert served as the first Superior of the order.  The members of the order initially focused on education and health care for Maori.  The nuns operated schools, dispensed medicine, and cared for disabled people and the chronically ill.  Aubert raised funds for the order by marketing herbal remedies.

At the Jerusalem Mission, starting in 1891, Aubert’s work also involved taking in abandoned and neglected children.  In the space of a decade she accepted responsibility for 70 children.  In the context of politics in New Zealand, European-style founding institutions were controversial.  Aubert, partially dependent on yet distrustful of civil authorities, refused to open the books for government inspectors.  Also, the geographically isolated mission was not the best place for the foundling institution.

Thus, it came to pass that, in January 1899, Aubert and three sisters did arrive in Wellington.  While the Jerusalem Mission continued our saint opened a new front in her work–helping urban poor people–invalids, the hungry, the unemployed, the incurably ill, et cetera.  The soup kitchen was controversial because, according to the colonial Department of Labour, it allegedly discouraged people from seeking employment.  Aubert’s rebuttal was that she was meeting a need.  The affordable daycare was popular with mothers.  Our Lady’s Home of Compassion, Wellington, opened in 1907, accepted the unwanted, handicapped, and seriously ill children, as well as chronically and terminally ill women.

Aubert founded St. Vincent’s Home of Compassion in Auckland in 1910.  This institution attracted the ire of the government and of certain Protestants alike.  Why was the order so secretive, protecting the privacy of children?  Yet Aubert and her defenders replied that the policy was necessary, to reduce the likelihood of infanticide.

Aubert also had enemies in the Roman Catholic hierarchy in New Zealand.  Certainly diplomacy was not her defining characteristic.  Neither was obedience.  (Nor should they have been.)  Aubert had, for example, ignored Archbishop Redwood’s order that she help only Roman Catholics.  As she told donors, her work was

salvation of souls, not the sanctification of Catholics.

Furthermore, Henry Cleary, the Bishop of Auckland, thought that our saint should have restricted her work to efforts to help women.  He arranged for the closing of St. Vincent’s Home of Compassion in 1916.

Aubert spent 1913-1919 in Europe.  She went there to seek papal approval for her order, but stayed until after the end of World War I.  Our saint, who worked as a nurse during the Great War, obtained the desired papal approval and became the Superior General of her order in April 1917.

Aubert spent her final years in her adopted country.  She, aged 91 years, died at Our Lady’s Home of Compassion, Wellington.  Mourners at her funeral included many politicians and leaders of a variety of denominations.  It was the largest funeral for a woman in New Zealand.

Aubert loved her neighbors as she loved herself.  The Golden Rule, seemingly simple and inoffensive, has proven to be neither simple nor inoffensive.  That has been unfortunate, reflecting the immorality and amorality of those who have found it offensive.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 26, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAUL VI, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK WILLIAM FABER, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN BRIGHT, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF JOHN BYROM, ANGLICAN THEN QUAKER POET AND HYMN WRITER

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God of love, we remember with thanksgiving Mother Marie-Joseph Aubert,

whose devotion to the needs of others transcended race or religion;

touch us deeply with your love,

enlarge the boundaries of our compassion,

and keep us in the way of Jesus, for your name’s sake.  Amen.

or 

Jesus of Jerusalem, in your compassion, Marie-Joseph visited and fed

the taurekareka, the unwanted, the desperate and the criminal;

give to your whole church, we pray, your caring, pioneering spirit.  Amen.

Deuteronomy 15:7-11

Psalm 107:1-22

James 2:14-18

Mark 6:34-44

–The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia

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Feast of the Martyrs of Melanesia, 1864-2003 (September 27)   Leave a comment

Above:  Map of New Zealand and Melanesia, 1958

Image Scanned and Cropped from Hammond’s World Atlas–Classics Edition (1958)

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INTRODUCTION

The Feast of the Martyrs of Melanesia comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.  This feast overlaps with two other commemorations from various provinces of the Anglican Communion–that of John Coleridge Patteson and His Companions (September 20) and that of the Martyrs of the Melanesian Brotherhood (April 24).

1864-1871

The first Anglican martyrs in Melanesia were Frederick Lorenzo Fisher Young (usually known as Fisher Young) and Edwin Nobbs, who died in 1864.  Young and Nobbs were descendants of H.M.S. Bounty mutineers; Young was a great-great-grandson of Fletcher Christian (1792-1842).  Young, born on January 27, 1846, was a native of Pitcairn Island.  Nobbs was a son of an Anglican priest stationed on Norfolk Island, the headquarters of the Melanesian Mission.  In 1864 Young, Nobbs, and Bishop John Coleridge Patteson were on Santa Cruz Island when natives shot them with arrows.  Young and Nobbs contracted tetanus and lockjaw.  Young died on August 24, after having forgiven his assailants.

I have already written about the martyrdoms of Joseph Atkin, Stephen Taroniara, and Bishop Patteson in 1871.

1904-1926

Others came to wear the crown of martyrdom, also.

  1. Arthur Ako died in his garden in 1904.  In 1898 he and fifteen converts from Fiji founded a Christian village at Kwara’ae, Fiu.  Within two years, with the addition of non-Fijian Christians, the village’s population had increased to about 100.  Hostile neighbors harassed the villagers.  The village remained after Ako’s murder and became the center of the spread of the faith in the area.
  2. James Ivo, a teacher from Nggela, died (by shooting) at Ngorefou in 1906.
  3. James Sili, falsely accused of sorcery, was standing on the veranda of the mission-house when someone fatally shot him in 1910.
  4. Charles Christopher Godden, born in Violet Town, Victoria, Australia, in 1876, was a poet, as well as the first Australian missionary to die in Melanesia.  He, ordained to the Anglican diaconate in 1899 and the priesthood the following year, was briefly the Curate of St. Michael’s Church, Surry Hills.  He volunteered for missionary work.  On September 3, 1900, Godden left for Norfolk Island, headquarters of the Melanesian Mission.  He arrived in Omba, New Hebrides (now Vanuatu) in April 1901.  There Godden supervised the construction of a church building and some schools.  On December 12, 1905, while on leave in Sydney, Australia, he married Eva Dearin (d. 1964).  They returned to Omba the following April.  On October 16, 1906, an angry, vengeful Melanesian man, released from an Australian prison after serving his sentence for attempted murder, killed Godden, who had never done anything to him, but was of European ancestry.  Our saint’s murderer was angry at people of European ancestry, due to his incarceration.  Eva gave birth to a daughter, Ruth, in July 1907.
  5. Ben Teilo, from Matema, was the first native Reef Islander ordained to the Anglican priesthood, in 1919.  He met his martyrdom via an axe attack in 1926.

2003

1998-2003 was a time of crisis in the Solomon Islands.  Two rival militias, the Isatubu Freedom Movement and the Malaitan Eagle Force, fought over competition between ethnic groups for land and jobs.  Government instability ensued, the economy suffered, and natural disasters made bad manners worse.  Military forces from Australia and New Zealand helped to stabilize the situation and end the crisis by the end of 2003, three years after the signing of the peace treaty.

Nathaniel Sado was a novice in the Melanesian Brotherhood.  He, in charge of the piggery, liked the pigs very much and fed them sweet potatoes he had picked from his garden then cooked.  Sado and animals got along well; he was one of the few novices the donkey liked.  Our saint, a native of the volcanic island of Savo, enjoyed taking expatriates to the hot springs there.  Sado, who was naïve, had befriended Harold Keke, notorious leader of the Isatubu Freedom Movement, and a man responsible for the murder of two priests, one of them a Member of Parliament in 2002.  Sado thought he really knew Keke; he was terribly mistaken.  Sado, accused of being a government spy, sang hymns as guerrillas beat him death at Easter (April 20) 2003.

Six Melanesian Brothers went to ask for Sado’s corpse.  They paid with their lives on or about April 23, 2003.

  1. Robin Lindsay was the Assistant Head Brother.  He, a longterm member of the Melanesian Brotherhood, was, according to the Father Richard Carter, a chaplain to the Brotherhood, “the encourager,” and a man who had a gift for helping people build on their strengths.
  2. Francis Tofi worked for peace in the strife-torn Solomon Islands.  He organized an effort, in conjugation with police, to sink all the ammunition, explosives, and high-powered weapons they could find into the sea, beyond reach.  Tofi, an expert in peaceful conflict resolution and an advocate for disarmament, fearlessly spoke out against Keke.  Tofi had received an offer from the World Council of Churches to accept a place at the Bossey Institute in Geneva and to assist with a course on conflict resolution.  He, according to his own words, had no fear of dying for the sake of peace and in the service of God.
  3. Alfred Hilly, stationed for two years at a the Chester Resthouse in Honiara, was the epitome of hospitality, teaching an abandoned child to read, tending to visiting children, and reading blood slides at the local malaria clinic.
  4. Ini Partabatu was an actor and a courageous opponent of injustice.  He acted in dramas about development and health issues.  Partabatu also condemned brutal police tactics that disrespected the rights of the accused.
  5. Patteson Gatu, admitted to the Melanesian Brotherhood in October 2002, was usually quick to smile.  His sense of humor, combined with his faith, made him an agent of grace.
  6. Tony Sirihi, having lost his father at an early age, found a family in the Melanesian Brotherhood.  He grew into a bold Brother, a courageous man, and a good friend who participated in the process of disarmament.

In March 2005 Harold Keke and two former guerrillas received life sentences for the murder of Father Augustine Geve, M.P., in 2002.

CONCLUSION

These are sobering stories that remind one of the command of Jesus to take up one’s cross and follow him.  Some follow Christ all the way to their own Golgotha.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 13, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PETER OF CHELCIC, BOHEMIAN HUSSITE REFORMER; AND GREGORY THE PATRIARCH, FOUNDER OF THE MORAVIAN CHURCH

THE FEAST OF GODFREY THRING, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JANE CREWDSON, ENGLISH QUAKER POET AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF NARAYAN SESHADRI OF JALNI, INDIAN PRESBYTERIAN EVANGELIST AND “APOSTLE TO THE MANGS”

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Creator God, whose majesty is in the storms as well as in the calm,

we thank you for those of every race who gave their lives in Melanesia for the sake of Christ;

may we your church always proclaim your gospel, live your commandments,

and overcome the powers of darkness; through Jesus Christ our Redeemer.  Amen.

or

God, you call us, your missionaries, to carry our lives in our hands;

we praise you for many servants in Melanesia whose lives

were taken by those for whom they would gladly have given them.  Amen.

Isaiah 26:1-4

Psalm 97 or 149

Colossians 1:9-14

John 12:20-26

–The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia

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Feast of Anna Ellison Butler Alexander (September 24)   Leave a comment

Above:  Deaconess Anna Ellison Butler Alexander

Image in the Public Domain

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ANNA ELLISON BUTLER ALEXANDER (1865?-SEPTEMBER 24, 1947)

African-American Episcopal Deaconess in Georgia, and Educator

Deaconess Anna Ellison Butler Alexander comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Episcopal Church.

The history of this feast exemplifies how many commemorations rise to the denominational level in The Episcopal Church.

The feast rose from the diocesan level.  In 1998 Henry Irving Louttit, Jr., the Bishop of Georgia, declared Deaconess Anna Alexander a saint of Georgia, with the feast day of September 24.  The feast rose to the national level at the General Convention of 2015, which added the commemoration to A Great Cloud of Witnesses (2016), the expanded version of the official calendar of saints contained in Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2006 (2007).  The General Convention of 2018 approved the greatly expanded official calendar of saints, Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018 (as of the writing of this post, available as a PDF, pending the final, published version next year), with the deaconess included.

As with many other Southern African-Americans of the time, the date–the year, even–of Anna’s birth remained uncertain, due to the lack of written records.  Records of the Diocese of Georgia listed her year of birth as 1878.  In 1947 her death certificate listed 1881 as her year of birth.  Anna’s birth actually occurred shortly after the end of the Civil War.  Most recent sources have given 1865 as her year of birth.

Above:  Coastal Georgia, 1951

Scanned from Hammond’s Complete World Atlas (1951)

Our saint was the youngest of eleven children of former slaves James and Daphne Alexander (married in 1841), of the Pierce Butler Plantation on St. Simon’s Island, Georgia.  Daphne was a child of plantation rape; her biological father was Roswell King, Jr.  James, or “Aleck,” was a skilled carpenter and builder, as well as Butler’s personal assistant.  The Alexanders instilled the value of education into their children, and modeled it.  James, for example, taught himself to read and write.  The couple, when slaves, violated the law against educating slaves; they taught their children.

Above:  Glynn and McIntosh Counties, Georgia, 1951

Scanned from Hammond’s Complete World Atlas (1951)

Anna, raised in The Episcopal Church, found the public education available to her in Glynn County, Georgia, substandard.  (The inadequate education of African Americans in the Postbellum South was often a matter of policy.)  It was fortunate, then, that the Alexanders provided informal education for their children.  Our saint, seeking to help others less fortunate than herself, became a teacher at the parochial school (attached to St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church, Darien, Georgia) her sister, Mary Alexander Mann, had founded.  (Mary’s husband, Ferdinand M. Mann, was the Vicar of St. Cyprian’s Church from 1892 to 1914.)  Many also taught at the parochial school, as did another sister, Dora.  The school was, for a time, a vital to the education of African Americans in Darien.

Anna’s base of operations for most of her life was the poor, rural community of Pennick, in Glynn County.  In 1894 she prompted the founding of a mission, Church of the Good Shepherd.  She spent 1894-1897 studying at St. Paul’s Normal School (later College), Lawrenceville, Virginia.  Episcopal priest James Solomon Russell (1857-1935) had founded the school in 1888.  (St. Paul’s College closed in 2013).  Our saint, back in Pennick, rebuilt the congregation and, in 1901, founded the parochial school, which grew from one room to two rooms, with an apartment for the deaconess.

The Diocese of Georgia, founded in 1823, divided in 1907; the Diocese of Atlanta formed to the northwest of the rump Diocese of Georgia.  Bishop Cleland Kinloch Nelson, based in Atlanta when he was the Bishop of Georgia (1892-1907), remained in the capital city and became the first Bishop of Atlanta (1907-1917).  Nelson was a relatively liberal white Georgian of the time.  He disapproved of Jim Crow, but knew he could not change the system alone, so he at least tried to keep his diocese integrated.  Nelson also encouraged African-American missions.  The bishop was not all-powerful, however; he could not override the collective will of the majority of lay people.  So, in 1907, after the as the Diocese of Atlanta was forming, the Diocese of Georgia was segregating.  Nevertheless, one of Nelson’s final acts as the Bishop of Georgia was to consecrate Anna Alexander as a deaconess–the only African-American deaconess in the denomination.  He did this on Friday, May 13, 1907, at the second annual meeting of the Council of Colored Churchmen.

The rump Diocese of Georgia was officially segregated for four decades.  During most of that time policy was to discourage African-American missions.  In 1907-1946 there were no African-American delegates to the annual diocesan conventions.  The Council of Colored Churchmen, formed in 1906, barely had any representation on diocesan committees.  Bishop Frederick Focke Reese (in office 1908-1936), a racist who delivered paternalistic addresses to African-American clergymen, neglected African-American congregations and schools financially.  Therefore, much financial assistance had to come from other sources, official (such as the denomination) and individual.  Anna was an effective fund raiser in this context.  The deaconess provided an education to many African-American youth and shepherded them into further education–some at colleges and others at technical schools.  She also worked as a cook at Camp Reese, the diocesan, whites-only summer camp on St. Simon’s Island, for a number of years.  The racially segregated Diocese of Georgia named a cabin after her in 1938.  The deaconess, while working as a cook for white campers at Camp Reese, brought groups of African-American youth to St. Simon’s Island and provided a sort of summer camp for them.

Bishop Middleton Stuart Barnwell (in office 1936-1954), unlike Bishop Reese, took an interest in African-American missions.  He spent diocesan funds to replace or repair buildings.  And, in 1947, he welcomed African Americans to the first racially integrated diocesan convention in four decades.

During the Great Depression Good Shepherd, Pennick, was a distribution center for federal and private aid in Glynn County.  Anna, who ministered to her neighbors without regard to race, was in charge of distribution.  She wrote:

I am to see everyone gets what they need….some folk don’t need help now and I know who they are.  The old people and the children, they need the most….When I tell some people they can’t get help just now…that others come first, they get mad, a little, but I don’t pay no mind and soon they forget to be mad.

The deaconess earned respect in her community and vicinity; many white men removed their hats in deference when she walked past them.

Anna died on September 24, 1947.  She was either in her late seventies or early eighties.  She remained mostly forgotten for many years.  The Episcopal Church in Georgia, 1733-1957 (1960), by Henry Thompson Malone, never mentioned the deaconess’s name.  Even the otherwise excellent Black Episcopalians in Georgia:  Strife, Struggle and Salvation (1980), by Charles Lwanga Hoskins, frequently misidentified her as Dora.  (Father Hoskins was a wonderful man, a charming priest, and a fine homilist.  When I was a member of Trinity Episcopal Church, Statesboro, Georgia, he was a supply priest, filling in when the Rector was away.  Memories of some of his sermons have never ceased to edify me spiritually.  Hoskins did, however, often mistake Anna for her sister, Dora, in his book, still an invaluable source for this post.)  In recent years, however, Anna’s legacy has become more prominent, fortunately.  It has become sufficiently prominent that, in January 2018, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, an African American, visited Good Shepherd, Pennick.

May that legacy become more prominent.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 4, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PAUL JONES, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF UTAH, AND PEACE ACTIVIST; AND HIS COLLEAGUE, JOHN NEVIN SAYRE, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND PEACE ACTIVIST

THE FEAST OF E. F. SCHUMACHER, GERMAN-BRITISH ECONOMIST AND SOCIAL CRITIC

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH AND MARY GOMER, U.S. UNITED BRETHREN MISSIONARIES IN SIERRA LEONE

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM MCKANE, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

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O God, you called Anna Alexander as a deaconess in your Church

and sent her as teacher and evangelist to the people of Georgia:

Grant us the humility to go wherever you send

and the wisdom to teach the word of Christ to whomever we meet,

that all may come to the enlightenment which you intend for your people;

through Jesus Christ, our Teacher and Savior.  Amen.

A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016)

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O God, who called Anna Alexander as a deaconess in your Church:

Grant us the humility to go wherever you send

and the wisdom to teach the word of Christ to whomever we meet,

that all may come to the enlightenment you intend for your people;

through Jesus Christ, our Teacher and Savior.  Amen.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 20-25

Psalm 78

Matthew 11:25-30

Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018

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