Saturday, December 24, 2011

Newsletter from the Oratory



2653 Ohio Avenue
Saint Louis, Missouri 63118
December 21, 2011


Dear Faithful and Friends of St. Francis de Sales Oratory,


One member of the audience described the Oratory’s first Gaudete Benefit Gala as a “magical evening.” Others used “fantastic,” “moving” and “extraordinary” to describe the memorable experience which exceeded their expectations.


From the jazzy welcome which greeted the first arrivals at the cocktail social, to the resounding “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” that closed the evening, this “magical evening” was a delightful interlacing of skillfully performed music and a delicious banquet. The overture, “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” captivated the audience just before the first course, Winter Beef Soup, was served. Thereafter, choral and instrumental pieces by classical masters as well as contemporary composers were enchantingly interwoven with the elegant dinner, served in a joyful atmosphere.

Who can forget the Chocolate Oblivion Flourless Torte paired with timeless Christmas carols, sung with energy and expression by the Oratory’s choristers?

Once again, I would like to thank Mr. Nick Botkins, Mrs. Catherine Unseth, Mrs. Mary Hayworth, and Mr. Mike Kenney for their vision and execution of this beautiful gala, which showcased the Oratory’s choirs and orchestra. We will need support to renovate the music suite in the “1888 Building” and to refurbish the organ, and this fundraiser was a very good beginning. I would like to thank all of you who came to this sold-out event, and the many guests who came to hear our choirs for the first time. Last but not least, I would like to thank all the singers and musicians for sharing the gifts which you offer every Sunday in support of the Sacred Liturgy, and which were displayed so dazzlingly at this Gala. Thank you!
Thanks to Mr. Phil Roussin, we are able to share with you two selections performed at the Gala: the Ave Maria by Nicholas Wilton, and the traditional carol, Gloucestershire Wassail.


We are in the final weeks of our 5-week survey of the Oratory’s attendees. The wonderful changes we have seen at St. Francis de Sales in the past six years have been supported largely by the dedicated and increased attendance. A higher rate of participation in this survey will ensure a better understanding of the demographic changes which are taking place. We kindly ask everyone to participate this year, whether you did last year, or are a newcomer this year. Last year’s survey returns cannot be re-used; therefore it is necessary that everyone fills out a new one for this year. For your convenience, the survey is designed to take only a few minutes, and it can be filled out anonymously in paper form, or online at Your generous participation will help us gather information which will help the Oratory serve the faithful in the greater St. Louis area. Thank you very much for your help!


In November, we received the final report of a study which monitored the movement of the Saint Francis de Sales steeple tower. This study was conducted over a 15-month period, considerably longer than the previous report of 2005 which spanned 5 months. The results of this recent study are interesting in that they show a cyclical displacement, likely due to seasonal effects, rather than a continuous unidirectional separation of the tower from the nave. Thus, the net displacement measured was smaller than what the previous projection would lead us to believe. The study concludes: “The continual movement was not significant enough to be readily measurable over this time period,” and that “it is not a primary concern at this time.”

The report’s recommendations are two-fold: a. more long-term monitoring of the tower is needed, and b. that the damage already occurred should be addressed as soon as possible.

We are very grateful for this study which gives us a better understanding of the steeple tower situation, so that this important element in the restoration of St. Francis de Sales can be addressed in a prudent manner.

In the mean time, per recommendation of the report, we will attend to other much-needed repairs of the church, such as the stained glass windows, displaced masonry, broken brick work, and tuck-pointing. With the generosity of the faithful and friends of the Oratory, some of these repairs have already begun or been completed in the last few years. Gratefully, and encouraged by the latest information, we look forward to the next phase of collaboration with all our supporters to continue the restoration of St. Francis de Sales.


Canon Brieuc de La Brosse who was ordained priest by His Eminence, Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, in Florence on July 7, celebrated Solemn High Mass at Saint Francis de Sales Oratory, preached the sermon and gave a first blessing to hundreds of faithful. Canon de La Brosse arrived in St. Louis last Saturday and was able to attend the Gaudete Benefit Gala the night before this wonderful and grace-filled Sunday. Thank you, Canon de La Brosse, for your visit and God Speed for your apostolic work in the Institute’s apostolates in Ireland! 


Solemn High Mass with Glorious Music and Veneration of the Relic of the Holy Crèche.
The first Mass of Christmas will be celebrated at midnight on December 25, and will include the veneration of the relic of the holy Crèche. Please join us, and invite your friends, neighbors and family to a memorable, traditional celebration of the birth of the Savior. Beginning at 11:30 PM, traditional Christmas carols will be sung by the Choirs of Saint Francis de Sales Oratory, including the Girls' Choir, the Oratory Choir of Men and Boys, and the Polyphonic Choir. The music repertoire accompanying the glorious Sacred Liturgy will include the Lux Arumque by Eric Whitacre, and Missa Brevis for Strings and Brass KV. 194 by Mozart.

In the last Newsletter we announced a new Scrip program for the Oratory. By shopping with Scrip at the retailers you already frequent, a percentage of the money you spend is contributed to the Oratory. It is a year-round, ongoing fundraiser which may also be a shopping convenience at this time of the year. Everyone is cordially invited to check out the program, and to participate if you wish. The Oratory has some scrip in the form of gift cards on hand and available for immediate purchase from the following retailers.
Lowe’s - Shop-n-Save - Starbuck's - St. Louis Bread Company
JCPenny -Walmart - Sam's Club - Target - Land's End -LLBean
IHOP - Burger King - Walgreen's - Bob Evans - JoAnn Fabric
Little Ceaser's - Gymboree - Domino's -Chipolte  -Dillard's

To purchase or for questions about the program, please contact Mrs. Gretchen Clinton or the Oratory office at 314-771-3100.


His Eminence, Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, will visit the Oratory for the second time since his elevation to the cardinalate: On January 31, 2012 (Tuesday), at 5:00PM His Eminence will be the celebrant of a Solemn Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament with Benediction. Immediately afterward, His Eminence will receive all faithful who wish to greet him in the hall during a festive reception. Please come greet the Cardinal and bring friends and family. The visit of Cardinal Burke is an opportunity for us to show our filial gratitude for his friendship and support of the work of the Institute worldwide and especially for his fatherly care for the good of Saint Francis de Sales Oratory.


This last Mystery Photo in 2011 shows again a detail of the rich sacred art work we are blessed to see every day at Saint Francis de Sales Oratory. Look around and remember: Where did you receive the greatest gift the Church offers to us every day? Go to the TraditionForTomorrow blog and drop your answer in the combox under the latest entry.

With my most sincere wishes for you and your families and friends on the occasion of the feast of the Nativity of Our Lord and a Happy New Year 2012 I ask you for your prayers for the Institute and our community at Saint Francis de Sales Oratory,

Canon Michael K. Wiener
Rector, St. Francis de Sales Oratory

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