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Frances Perkins

frances perkins
In the fall of 2009, the Episcopal Church named Frances Perkins as a holy woman and welcomed her into the calendar of lesser feasts and fasts. When a saint is named, their date of death is used as the date to mark for their commemoration. Frances died on May 14, 1965, but May 13th was chosen as the day for her commemoration because the 14th was already full on the calendar. May 13, 2010 was the first year that she was commemorated. On May 16, 2010, her summer parish, St. Andrew’s Church in Newcastle, Maine, marked this occasion with a service of Evensong and a lecture by Donn Mitchell, editor of the Anglican Examiner, a web site where he maintains a page for Frances Perkins and her vision for a Gracious Society, as he calls the results of her labors for social justice.The calendar of the Episcopal Church includes feasts of Christ and New Testament saints as major holy days, but also includes lesser feasts and fasts for optional commemoration. Those persons included in this latter category are subject to review by General Convention, and in 2009 Frances Perkins’s name was added as the result of a complete review of the list of such persons.On May 16, 2010, St. Andrew’s held its first celebration of the commemoration of Frances Perkins. Donn Mitchell’s presentation, entitled “Frances Perkins: Heart and Soul of the New Deal,” explored the ways in which the focus of her work was based on her faith and on the teachings of the Anglican tradition and its commitment to social justice. Following Mr. Mitchell’s presentation, there was a question and answer period. Then, at 4:00pm, the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine, Stephen T. Lane, was the officiate and preacher at Evensong. One stanza of a hymn used at the service was written by a St. Andrew’s parishioner and retired priest, Byron Stuhlman, inspired by Frances and her work for her fellow man. An anthem in her honor, composed by Richard Francis and based on Micah 6:8, was commissioned for this service by a parishioner and was sung by the St. Andrew’s choir for the first time at this service.

Text of Bishop Stephen Lane’s sermon given at St. Andrew’s May 16, 2010 may be found here.

For more information about Frances Perkins, please visit FrancesPerkinsCenter.org.