Bishop MakesVisit To St. James and St. Andrews Churches
By Dan Hust
CALLICOON January 9, 2007 After 40 years of visiting, the Right Reverend Mark Sisk wasn’t exaggerating when he told the congregation of St. James Episcopal Church, “It is wonderful to be out here!”
The Callicoon parish welcomed him with equal enthusiasm Sunday morning, some even recalling when Sisk the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New York installed the church’s pastor, Joan LaLiberte.
“Canonically, the bishop is to visit each church in the diocese regularly,” explained Rev. LaLiberte, who later that day welcomed Sisk again at her other church St. Andrew’s in South Fallsburg.
Indeed, church doctrine teaches that the bishop must visit with all of his congregants, as he is the actual pastor of the parishes within his diocese.
“I serve under the bishop, but he is the rector,” said LaLiberte.
That keeps Sisk and the two other bishops of the Diocese of NY busy they’re usually traveling to one of more than 200 churches within Manhattan, Staten Island, the Bronx, and the counties of Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester.
“We are a very large diocese,” remarked Canon for Pastoral Care Andrew Dietsche, who was traveling with the bishop (along with Dietsche’s wife Margaret and Sisk’s wife Karen). “We have 14 languages spoken in the diocese on Sunday morning!”
Sisk remembers when the resort industry dominated the area… and what happened after.
But times are changing.
“Clearly, Sullivan County is going through a time of great transitions,” he said during a parishioner-prepared lunch at the Callicoon church. “I’m impressed by the evident signs of life, health and resurgence.”
Sisk said he was also impressed by the congregation, which is closely hewing to the three “fundamental elements of any church” he referenced during his sermon: worship, nurture and witness.
He also praised the diversity of the congregation, which includes people of various ages, races, backgrounds and sexual orientations.
“That’s what makes me love the church so much, because it’s made up of real human beings,” he observed.
“It’s a very diverse congregation,” the Newsweek/Washington Post panelist added after the service. “In a way, I get the sense that that’s Sullivan County.”
For more information on the Episcopal Diocese of New York, log on to www.dioceseny.org. St. James has its own Website at www.stjamescallicoon.com, or call the church at 887-4742. For St. Andrew’s in South Fallsburg, the number is 436-7539.