St. Giles Episcopal Community to Celebrate 25th Anniversary at Saint Mary's

When St. Giles Episcopal Church of Moraga, a self-described "church without walls of our own," was searching for a place to worship during the early 1980s, Rector Lois Pinneo Hoy approached the Christian Brothers at Saint Mary's College.

Hoy had given several talks to Saint Mary's religious studies classes and asked the College if her congregation could hold Sunday Eucharist services in the Chapel.

Then–Brother President Mel Anderson supported the idea and secured approval from Catholic Bishop of Oakland John Cummins and Episcopal Bishop of California William Swing in fall 1982.

"Since the Roman Catholic Mass and Episcopal Eucharist services are very similar, there was little need to make adjustments," Brother Mel said.

On Oct. 21, St. Giles, whose usual Sunday services are at 9 a.m., will mark its 25th anniversary at Saint Mary's with a vespers service in the Chapel at 4 p.m. All are welcome to this evening of worship.

Rev. Duane Sisson, rector of St. Giles since 2001, says the Episcopal and Catholic communities work together on Chapel upkeep and decoration and have held joint liturgies.

"The College has been quite open and interested in developing a relationship with St. Giles," Sisson said. "There's a sense that together we have a desire to listen to other traditions."

"We've collaborated on the Ash Wednesday services and other special liturgies," said Father Sal Ragusa, Saint Mary's campus minister. "This is a great testimony to the fact that much more unites us than divides us."

This cultivation of cross-denominational ties is not limited to Catholics and Episcopalians in Lafayette, Moraga and Orinda.

Rev. Sisson and members of the Saint Mary's community have participated in a range of inclusive religious activities, including non-denominational services that rotate between Baha'i, Catholic, Episcopal, Jewish, Lutheran, Methodist and Presbyterian places of worship.

"Interfaith discussion in this area is quite keen and has been for some years," Sisson said.

The St. Giles anniversary service falls on the same day as the Lasallian "Day of Prayer of Peace," and the St. Giles congregation will add its prayers to the appeal to end international conflicts.

"There's nothing like coming together to know each other and develop respect for each other's traditions," Sisson said.

-- John Grennan
Office of College Communications