Crosstown Blog


Final Affairs Fair | Helpful Links and Resources

Designation of health-care surrogate:
Statutory form on living wills:
Five Wishes instructions and access to forms ($5 for individual form completed online, discounts for multiple printed forms)
Empathy Health (Suncoast Hospice) website on advance directives (these forms are free):
Anatomical Board of the State of Florida (information and form for donation of body to science):
Statutory designation of health care surrogate:
Statutory designation of health care surrogate for a minor:

Further Reading on End-of-Life Issues


Being Mortal: Medicine and What Happens in the End, by Atul Gawande
Named a Best Book of the Year by The Washington Post, The New York Times Book Review, NPR, and Chicago Tribune, now in paperback with a new reading group guide.

Medicine has triumphed in modern times, transforming the dangers of childbirth, injury, and disease from harrowing to manageable. But when it comes to the inescapable realities of aging and death, what medicine can do often runs counter to what it should.
Through eye-opening research and gripping stories of his own patients and family, Gawande reveals the suffering this dynamic has produced. Nursing homes, devoted above all to safety, battle with residents over the food they are allowed to eat and the choices they are allowed to make. Doctors, uncomfortable discussing patients' anxieties about death, fall back on false hopes and treatments that are actually shortening lives instead of improving them.

In his bestselling books, Atul Gawande, a practicing surgeon, has fearlessly revealed the struggles of his profession. Now he examines its ultimate limitations and failures — in his own practices as well as others’ — as life draws to a close. Riveting, honest, and humane, Being Mortal shows how the ultimate goal is not a good death but a good life, all the way to the very end.


Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast
#1 New York Times Bestseller. 2014 National Book Award Finalist, winner of the inaugural 2014 Kirkus Prize in nonfiction, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, winner of the 2014 Books for a Better Life Award, winner of the 2015 Reuben Award from National Cartoonists Society

New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast brings her signature wit to the topic of aging parents. Spanning the last several years of their lives and told through four-color cartoons, family photos, documents, and a narrative as rife with laughs as it is with tears, Chast's memoir is both comfort and comic relief for anyone experiencing the life-altering loss of elderly parents. 

The particulars are Chast-ian in their idiosyncrasies: an anxious father who had relied heavily on his wife for stability as he slipped into dementia … and a mother, a former assistant principal,  whose overbearing personality had sidelined Roz for decades. The themes, however, are universal: adult children accepting a parental role; aging and unstable parents leaving a family home for an institution; dealing with uncomfortable physical intimacies; and hiring strangers to provide the most personal care. 

An amazing portrait of two lives at their end and an only child coping as best she can, Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant? shows the full range of Roz Chast's talent as cartoonist and storyteller. This book is available in the Cathedral library.


When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
#1 New York Times bestseller; Pulitzer Prize finalist; Finalist for the PEN Center USA Literary Award in Creative Nonfiction and the Books for a Better Life Award in Inspirational Memoir; Named one of the best books of the year by The New York Times Book Review • People • NPR • The Washington Post • Slate • Harper’s Bazaar • Time Out New York • Publishers Weekly • BookPage

At the age of 36, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated.

When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student — “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” — into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality.

What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present? What does it mean to have a child, to nurture a new life as another fades away? These are some of the questions Kalanithi wrestles with in this profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir.

Paul Kalanithi died in March 2015, while working on this book, yet his words live on as a guide and a gift to us all. “I began to realize that coming face to face with my own mortality, in a sense, had changed nothing and everything,” he wrote. “Seven words from Samuel Beckett began to repeat in my head: ‘I can’t go on. I’ll go on.’ ” When Breath Becomes Air is an unforgettable, life-affirming reflection on the challenge of facing death and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a brilliant writer who became both.


On Death and Dying, by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

This classic book explores the now-famous idea of the five stages of dealing with death: denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. With sample interviews and conversations, Dr. Kugler-Ross gives the reader a better understanding of how imminent death affects the patient, the professionals who serve the patient, and the patient’s family, brining hope, solace and peace of mind to all involved. This book is available in the Cathedral library.


Knocking On Heaven’s Door by Katy Butler

Award-winning journalist Katy Butler was living thousands of miles from her aging parents when the call came: Her beloved 79-year-old father had suffered a crippling stroke. Katy and her mother joined the more than 28-million Americans who are shepherding loved ones through their final declines.

Doctors outfitted her father with a pacemaker, which kept his heart going while doing nothing to prevent a slide into dementia, near-blindness, and misery. When he said, “I’m living too long,” mother and daughter faced wrenching moral questions. Where is the line between saving a life and prolonging a dying? When do you say to a doctor, “Let my loved one go?”

When doctors refused to disable the pacemaker, condemning her father to a lingering death, Butler set out to understand why. Her quest had barely begun when her mother, faced with her own grave illness, rebelled against her doctors, refused open-heart surgery, and met death the old-fashioned way: head-on.

Part memoir, part medical history, and part spiritual guide, Knocking on Heaven’s Door is a map through the labyrinth of a broken medical system. Technological medicine, obsessed with maximum longevity, is creating more suffering than it prevents. Butler chronicles the rise of Slow Medicine, a movement bent on reclaiming the “Good Deaths” our ancestors prized. In families, hospitals, and the public sphere, this visionary memoir is inspiring the difficult conversations we must have to light the path to a better way of death.

Once her nurse, now her mentor


Twenty-three years ago, parishioner Betsy Adams nursed a premature baby named Victoria in the neonatal intensive care unit at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. Now that baby is a nurse resident, working under Betsy’s supervision on a clinical rotation. You can read the full story here.

Sam Tallman’s Retirement Farewell

We are so thankful for everything Sam has done for the Cathedral! We wish him and Mike all the best in their new chapter.

A note from Sam: “My retirement celebration sent us on an emotional roller coaster, and I’m still amazed I held it together. For Mike and me, it took two days before we were ready to read all the cards. All your thoughts and best wishes opened the depth of what these seven years have meant, and I am so thankful there will be ministry in new ways still ahead, along with time for home and newfound interests. Thank you all so much and will see you in the late fall.”

Join us as we explore what it means to become the beloved community

Over the next few months, in a series of Crosstown articles, the Becoming the Beloved Community Team hopes to share with you more of what we have discovered in exploring this exciting, yet challenging, call from God to the church — the call to the journey of Becoming Beloved Community. For more information contact Betsy Adams ( To read the full article, visit

Joyful Easter Season Continues Through Ascension Day and Pentecost

The jelly beans are gone and the Easter bonnets are back in their boxes, but the Great 50 Days of Easter continue.

The season of Easter lasts from Easter Sunday -- April 21 -- until Pentecost, on June 9. During this celebratory season you'll see lots of signs and symbols around the church and in our worship that say we are continuing to rejoice in the resurrection of our Lord.

The subdued music of Lent is replaced by joyous song, and the modest greenery has given way to colorful floral arrangements. The altar hangings and the clergy vestments are a festive white, and the crosses have emerged from their veils. Our readings, from the Acts of the Apostles, tell about the post-Easter appearances of Jesus.

We bring back the "Alleluias" in worship, and we omit the Confession during Easter season as we celebrate our new lives in Christ. At the start of the 10:15 a.m. service, right after the Collect for Purity, we sing the Pascha Nostrum ("Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us").

One big sign of Easter season is that the paschal candle stands at the altar, lighted during services to symbolize the risen Christ, the pillar of fire that led the Israelites out of bondage, and the fire of the Holy Spirit.

For the rest of the year, this candle stands beside the baptismal font near the entrance to the sanctuary. We bring the font and the candle forward to the marble area when we celebrate baptism. At a funeral the paschal candle stands beside the casket or remains, a symbol of the presence of Christ at these key moments.

In the days to come we will observe two major feast days.

The first, 40 days after Easter, is Ascension Day, on May 30, when Jesus ascended into heaven to be with his Father. This day is set in scripture: Acts 1:1-5, 10-11. 

On Ascension Day we recognize that Jesus is no longer here, bodily, on earth, limited to one place or one time. Now we recognize him as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, seated in glory at the right hand of the Father, and accessible everywhere, all the time, to everyone.

Ten days later, on June 9, we observe Pentecost ("50th Day"), regarded as the birthday of the church. We'll have more details next month about Pentecost, but do mark your calendar for that day. Plan to wear red, the festive color, and dress casually, because after the 10:15 a.m. service we'll move into Harvard Hall for our annual picnic. Fried chicken and all the fixin's -- but more about that next month.

This Ascension window, in the far northeast corner of the Cathedral, shows the hands of God welcoming Jesus into heaven. The disciples and Mary the Mother of Jesus (lower right, with pink headscarf) watch as he ascends.

This Ascension window, in the far northeast corner of the Cathedral, shows the hands of God welcoming Jesus into heaven. The disciples and Mary the Mother of Jesus (lower right, with pink headscarf) watch as he ascends.

Bishop Smith inserted the five clove-shaped pins representing the nails that wounded Jesus. Grains of incense are embedded in the pins, signifying the wounds in his hands, feet and side. The Greek letters for Alpha and Omega indicate that Christ is the beginning and the end. The fish are symbols for Christ. Decals indicate the year. The candle is 51 percent beeswax, symbolizing the purity of Christ.

Bishop Smith inserted the five clove-shaped pins representing the nails that wounded Jesus. Grains of incense are embedded in the pins, signifying the wounds in his hands, feet and side. The Greek letters for Alpha and Omega indicate that Christ is the beginning and the end. The fish are symbols for Christ. Decals indicate the year. The candle is 51 percent beeswax, symbolizing the purity of Christ.

A New Year in Stewardship: Think About Legacy Giving

Later this spring we will offer information sessions about planned legacy giving. The Cathedral is one of five parishes in the Diocese of Southwest Florida that are participating in a pilot study by the Episcopal Church Foundation to find effective ways of creating a “culture of stewardship.” You’ll be hearing more from us about this. Our pledge drive lasts for two months in the fall, but stewardship of time, talent and treasure is something we work at every day of the year. Below is a chart that suggests ways you can offer your time, talent, and treasure in 2019. New year’s resolutions, anyone?
Have questions or would like more information? Contact Ray McColgan, Stewardship Chair.

Stewardship Chart-page-001.jpg


A conversation with the Rev. Paige Hanks


Our transitional deacon, the Rev. Paige Hanks, will be ordained priest at 11 am Saturday, January 5. All are invited to attend this service and welcome her into the next stage of her life and service in the church.

Paige was ordained deacon in June in the Diocese of Dallas and most recently lived in North Carolina. She moved to St. Petersburg in late fall because of her husband David's job with Johnson Controls. To help us get to know each other, we asked Paige to tell us about herself. (A shorter version of this Q&A appears in the January issue of our Crosstown newsletter.)


The path to becoming a priest is shaped not only by a sense of call but by how we recognize the image of God in those around us and reflect it back into the world. The Rev. Paige Hanks shares with us what she has learned and experienced along her journey.

Women Arriving at the Tomb by He Qi

Women Arriving at the Tomb by He Qi

Who is your favorite character in the Bible, and tell us why.

PAIGE: Mary Magdalene is my favorite character, although there are so many completely human folks that God draws in and equips for leadership! Her presence in each of the four Gospels and as a witness to Christ’s death and resurrection serve as a reminder to me that a faithful presence with Christ will be a witness to others. I sometimes imagine that Mary and I could have been friends had we been contemporaries, as I love to be inspired by folks who are willing to be brave and speak out the truth.

Tell us your favorite hymn, and why.

PAIGE: This may be the hardest question to answer, because hymnody is my prayer language. When I don’t have words, or when my feelings are swirling around and I can’t make sense of what’s happening, I default to singing hymns and songs of praise mostly by myself (you’re welcome!). Hymns help me to center myself in a particular moment in time and help me forget about all the extras that are intruding while I am trying to be focused. I particularly love hymns that have sacramental language around the body and blood of Christ, as I am deeply transformed and humbled at God’s altar when I consider receiving the gifts of our Savior. If you forced me to choose, I would have to say “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence.” There is something magical about the words and tune for me that transport me to another space where I can almost feel myself surrender to the power and love of Christ.

Tell us about a time when you found yourself talking to someone you didn't know about God (gulp! an evangelism moment!).

PAIGE: First of all, we have to OWN the word evangelism and be not afraid to claim it! Talking about God to others is a sacred opportunity, and I can’t think of one time (outside the church setting) where I have found myself planning to go out and tell someone about God. Yet I have had countless opportunities to do so, some of which I have taken, and some of which I let slip right on by.

One of my favorites was at the dentist's office when I showed up for a routine cleaning. I had planned to go home from work to change out of my collar (to be more comfortable in that dentist’s chair). But the day got really busy at church and I didn’t have a chance. I walked in wearing my clerical shirt and had a great conversation about God with the new receptionist. He had never met a member of the clergy, and although we didn’t talk long -- because it was time for my appointment -- we had such a warm conversation between two people who were just trying to understand one another. I didn’t push the conversation toward God, but was excited to answer the questions being asked by someone who didn’t know much about God. It had been a busy day without much time for reflection, and this conversation gave me lots to consider as I lay in the dentist chair for the next hour. It really made me think about whether he would have asked those same questions if I were wearing my regular clothes. And how I can make the space and time, no matter what I am wearing, to be reflecting the image of God to all people I meet, because that is the best tool for evangelism! Make a friend, be a friend, bring a friend to Christ!

You had a long first vocation in elementary education as a teacher and principal. What did you learn there that applies to your new vocation as a priest?

I hope to be able to reach out to each person in a way that recognizes their Imago Dei and reflects back to them that they are loved and valued for exactly who they are as I listen to their story and respond in love.

PAIGE: One of my personality traits is to be a talker. I am always good for a story or a great conversation. One of my areas of challenge is that while you are talking, you really can’t also be listening. Being a teacher of kids and adults is perhaps surprisingly less about talking and more about listening. Really hearing what people say teaches you what people need: what they need from you as their leader, and what they need for themselves to continue to grow and learn. I hope that working hard to be a better listener helps me provide more effective pastoral care, as well as helps me to recognize the unique worth and individual needs that each person I encounter has at that particular time in their life.

The relationship of our Trinitarian God, Christ, and Holy Spirit models for us all the way that we are to live in community with one another, rather than as solitary individuals. I hope to be able to reach out to each person in a way that recognizes their Imago Dei (image of God) and reflects back to them that they are loved and valued for exactly who they are as I listen to their story and respond in love.

Who were your role models along the way?

Paige and her sisters, Lexi and Mary Beth

Paige and her sisters, Lexi and Mary Beth

PAIGE: So many people have been role models in this crazy life of mine! I am especially drawn to strong women who face adversity with dignity and courage. I would be remiss if I didn’t first mention my own mom, who was my leader in life right up until her death in 2012. She was a rock in our family and never let my sisters and me think there was a thing in the world we couldn’t do if we worked toward it. She taught us to be strong in our faith and to stand for what was right even if everyone else was going in another direction entirely. She was quite young when I was born by today’s standard, and after being a stay-at-home parent she went back to school to be a teacher and eventually a college professor, recognized by her peers and attaining some of the most prestigious accolades in her field of geographic education. But at the end of the day, she was my sounding board, my biggest critic and the president of my fan club. There are hundreds of people who feel the same way about her, and she wasn’t even their mother.

My sisters are also courageous and strong like Mom and I look up to them as role models in different ways as they navigate the challenges of life as successful professionals and women of great faith. When the three of us girls get together, we are quite a force and have tackled many hard challenges together. I am grateful for Mom, Lexi, and Mary Beth, as well as the many other women and men we have been blessed to have as mentors and bonus moms and dads throughout our lives.

How can we encourage young people -- especially girls and women -- to consider whether they feel a call to ordained ministry?

Paige’s parents

Paige’s parents

PAIGE: This is something for which I have great passion. I did not formally discern a call to ordained ministry until I was well into my 40s. As I reflect on my life in the church, I cannot help but imagine whether that would have been different had I belonged to church in a denomination where women were allowed to serve as priests when I was young. Although I am a lifelong Episcopalian, my first worship experience with a female priest was not until I was a parent in my late 20s. My father was a long-serving acolyte warden in our church, and I was allowed to serve as an acolyte only when we just ran out of all available boys. While Dad came a LONG way in his understanding of women and their roles in church and was super supportive of my discernment process, that kind of thinking perhaps stunted my awareness of God’s calling in my life.

We should be intentional about discussing vocation as Christians, both ordained and as laity active in the world. The last church position I held centered on vocational discernment, and I was very intentional about giving voice to people of all backgrounds. It was completely acceptable for me as a woman to consider becoming an elementary teacher when I was in college, because that is a normative experience we all have in our schooling backgrounds. What if it became normative to have women preaching and teaching throughout God’s church? What a great model for young girls and adult women to see someone doing what they might imagine God calling them to do!