Monday, July 4, 2016


Beautiful St. Paul's in Summer!

Summertime, and the livin' is easy
Fish are jumpin' and the cotton is high
Oh, your daddy's rich and your ma is good-lookin'
So hush little baby, Don't you cry

Those thrilling yet sultry lyrics From “Porgy & Bess” By George Gershwin echoed melodically through the halls as I sat typing away in the St. Paul’s/JNRC office one morning last week. My dear friend Rhonda Abouhana, one of the most magnificent sopranos I have ever heard (and a chorister in our marvelous church choir) was practicing this beautiful piece for an upcoming performance, and the glorious tones lured me closer with every passing note. Summertime is one of my favorite musical pieces of all time, not to mention my love of “Porgy & Bess” as a whole since I first learned of it in grade school, so I sat transfixed outside the door, soaking in every second of its harmonic sweetness in my ears.

This summer, my final three months here as a YASC missionary in Rome, have at many times been filled with such sweetness and beauty as that morning musical reprieve, yet also brimming with much of the hard work and continual learning that has characterized this year.

On June 5th, Fr. Austin said goodbye to the St. Paul’s congregation before leaving for a three-month Sabbatical back in the United States. We dearly miss him here, but we’re thrilled for him that he will get a much-needed time of rest, relaxation and rejuvenation back home. In the meantime, we welcome Fr. Glenn Chalmers who recently retired from Holy Apostles Episcopal Church in New York City who will be filling in for him throughout the summer.

Enjoy your Sabbatical Fr. Austin! Welcome Fr. Glenn! 
A funny thing about Summer at St. Paul’s in Rome is that in the summer, since many of our members, being Americans and other expats, have gone home to their relatives in the States while the parish becomes filled with visitors and tourists stopping by on their Roman vacations. Like at most Episcopal churches I know, life slows down markedly during the summer with the major events of our program year suspended until September. Mercifully gone are the extremely long and taxing days of the late winter and Spring that saw me working nonstop from early morning until after midnight virtually seven days a week. After Pentecost with our fantastic finance director Simonetta returned from a 5-month injury leave and some stressful negotiations resolved, we all find ourselves much more comfortable and relaxed in this sunny time of year.

Promo's for our fundraiser beach parties!
At the Refugee Center, while many of our normal programs continue albeit with fewer because the weather is warmer and the breakfast program scarcely needed during the Islamic Ramadan (as most of our guests are Muslims). In late June we marked the week of World Refugee Day with two fundraising events  - both beach parties to provide resources for the JNRC and other related refugee-serving organizations around town. Sadly we were forced to postpone a planned distribution of gift bags to refugees & a planned renovation of the JNRC interfaith worship room due to lack of resources and available staff to coordinate the project. Hopefully they will continue with my succeesor next year! This week we will celebrate Eid, the end of Ramadan, with a marvelous feast also celebrating the powerful bonds of love between our Christian and Muslim communities.

In my next post I’ll write more about the travels and transitions that my fellow St. Paul’s interns and I have undergone these last few weeks. Keep reading, friends!

No comments:

Post a Comment