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Clergy
Rector

The Reverend Zachary Thompson

Zack began as Rector of St. James’ Church in May of 2023. Prior to joining the staff at St. James’, Zack served as the Episcopal Chaplain to Emory University, and as an Associate Rector, and Rector, in parishes in the Diocese of Atlanta. As Rector, Zack works with the Vestry, lay leadership, and staff to focus everything we do as a parish on our core mission of forming disciples of Jesus who will actively share God’s love with each other, our city, and the world. Originally from Princeton, New Jersey, Zack earned his M.Div. at Emory University and a Master of Sacred Theology at Sewanee: The University of the South, where he defended a thesis on the theological vision of Rowan Williams. Zack is married to Amy, and they have two sons, Rowan and Ezra.

212-774-4250

zthompson@stjames.org

Associate Rector

The Reverend Matthew Oprendek

Matt began his ministry as Associate Rector on Palm Sunday 2024.  He oversees our liturgies, our Christian formation, and our new-comers’ ministries (or worship/wisdom/welcome). Before arriving here, Matt was the priest-in-charge at St. James Church, Fordham in the Bronx.  He previously served on the Bishop’s staff in the Diocese of Long Island as the liturgy coordinator, and as a curate at Christ Church, Exeter NH.  His M.Div. and Certificate of Spiritual Direction are from General Theological Seminary in NYC. Prior to the ordained ministry, Matt practiced civil litigation as an attorney in Houston with a J.D. from the University of Texas in Austin. Matt is also a classically trained pianist with a Bachelor of Music from Baylor University.  Matt is married to Eric;  their English Cocker Spaniel is named Ella aka Ms. Bouvier.

212-774-4256

moprendek@stjames.org

Associate Rector

The Reverend Marisa Sifontes

Marisa serves as the Associate Rector of St. James, with a focus on Mission, Parish Life, and Pastoral Care. Prior to this, she served as Associate Rector of a parish in Roanoke, Virginia and Diocesan Missioner for Becoming Beloved Community in the Diocese of Southwestern Virginia. She received her M.Div. from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University.

She has a passion for Mission. Her faith leans heavily on the words of our Baptismal Covenant, particularly our call to seek and serve Christ in all persons, respecting the dignity of every human being. 

While born and raised in Buffalo, New York, Marisa has lived in Virginia, Georgia, and North Carolina most recently. Moving to New York has brought her back North for the first time in many years. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a law degree from the University of Michigan. She actively practiced law for twenty years before being ordained.

Marisa has two college-aged sons, Cole and Max, unwittingly practices tsundoku, and is almost always planning her next trip.

212-774-4255

msifontes@stjames.org

Lay Staff
Associate for Parish Life

Grace Beacham

Donations, Thrift Sales, Parish Events, Altar Guild

It seems that everyone at St. James’ knows Grace Beacham, our resident Southern Belle and Jill of all trades. Grace has been a part of St. James’ 1990, as a parishioner, staff-person, or both! Grace’s deep faith, real love of people, and attention to detail help make St. James’ retreats, workshops, newcomer events, and parish-wide functions places where parishioners can come to better know each other and Jesus. Grace and her volunteers are also responsible for the thrift and antique sales that raise money for St. James’ Grants Program to support social service agencies throughout the city. Grace loves her job for the many parishioners and visitors she gets to work with all year. Her other great love is, of course, New York City.

212-774-4231

gbeacham@stjames.org

Associate for Youth, Young Adults, and Mission

Calvin Bushman

Originally from North Jersey, Calvin completed his undergraduate degree in Biblical and Theological Studies at Nyack College before completing his Master of Divinity at Boston University School of Theology.  Calvin has previously been involved with several youth ministries, and recently completed a one-year residency as a hospital chaplain at Mount Sinai Hospital prior to coming to St. James’.  Calvin is beyond excited to be a part of the St. James’ community, and looks forward to the fun of exploring faith and formation with youth and young adults.

Outside of church, Calvin loves going to the movies and considers it a spiritual practice to go once a week.  Currently, Calvin lives in East Harlem with his partner, Sophie and their dog, Moses.

cbushman@stjames.org

212-774-4242

Director of Communications

Marisa Curcio

Marisa has been a soprano in the Compostela Choir since September 2021, and joined the staff as Director of Communications in February 2022. Originally from near Saratoga Springs, NY, she relocated to Princeton, NJ for school at Westminster Choir College, earning a B.M. in Music Education and a B.M. in Sacred Music. Previously, she worked at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia as their Associate for Communications, where she facilitated a website build, oversaw the implementation of new live-streaming equipment, and helped the parish feel connected in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic by making worship services available weekly. In addition to her work in communications, she is a professional choral singer and teacher, singing all over NY, NJ, and PA (sometimes all three in one day!).

mcurcio@stjames.org

212-774-4279

Sexton & Verger

Saadik Desane

Saadik began working at St. James’ in 2015. Born and raise in Queens,  he is the father of one son, Robert Saadik DeSane. His responsibilities include maintenance and verger duties and he always available whenever we need him.

Creative Producer Audio & Video

Andrew Filippone Jr.

Andrew is a filmmaker and two-time New York EMMY Award winner.

Hospitality Manager

Josefina Franco

Bio

Administrative Assistant to the Rector

Rosa Gentile

Weddings, Funerals, Baptisms

Rosa Gentile has been the administrative assistant to Rectors Brenda Husson and Zachary Thompson since February 2001. But that wasn’t how Rosa first came to know St. James’. That was in the distant August of 2000 when she arrived as temporary assistant to then Associate Rectors, Craig Townsend and Susannah Smith. Working with Craig and Susannah and getting to know the parish, its people and the caring staff, all contributed to her appreciation of the synergy and the good deeds that are manifested when people work together as one caring and loving body.  As administrative assistant to the Rector, Rosa assists parishioners in many aspects of parish matters and is typically the first person to receive requests for baptisms, weddings and funerals. Those new to the parish or life-long parishioners are sure to find a caring ear and an answer to their administrative and sometimes pastoral queries when they call her office.

rgentile@stjames.org

212-774-4251

Director of Children's and Family Ministries

Vicki Hall

Vicki has been shepherding children and families into the St. James’ community since 1997. A Band Director in her previous life, Vicki received her MA in Christian Education from the Presbyterian School of Christian Education (now Union Presbyterian Seminary) in Virginia. At St. James’, she oversees all of our family and children’s programming – helping little ones become engaged in worship, understand what it means to be Christian, and love their neighbors. Our kids are integral to all aspects of our life in the church, from music to mission and everywhere in between. When she isn’t at St. James’, Vicki loves her morning exercise time and her great big family.

212-774-4232

Vhall@stjames.org

Sexton & Verger

Stephen Hurst

Bio

Accounting Manager

Cathy McAleer

Cathy joined the staff of St. James’ in June 2014 with 15 years’ experience in public and corporate accounting. Her work experience began in brokerage after college before spending many years working for a hedge fund manager. She was later employed as Accounting Manager at both a medical communications firm and government contract agency.  A longtime resident of East Brunswick, NJ, she and her husband Kevin raised two sons Kevin and Daniel. Empty nesters, they moved to NYC where they now enjoy spending their free time exploring and embracing  the city and spending quality time with their growing family.

cmcaleer@stjames.org

212-774-4238

Part-Time Assistant

Eva McCoy

Eva has been a member of St James’ Church for the past 5 years. She assists Vicki with Children and Family Ministries (CFM) and now assists Marisa in production of printed materials. She has served in the youth choir, is currently a chalice bearer, and has been part of the Tuesday meal program and various Mission outreach programs. She will be starting at Hunter College this fall and is proud to be a part of St. James’ lay staff. Eva is excited for this journey and continued growth at St. James’!

Director of Music and Organist

Kenneth Miller

Ken began his tenure as Director of Music and Organist in July of 2024. At St. James’, he helps plan liturgies, plays the organ for worship, and conducts choirs. He previously served as Associate Professor of Church Music in the School of Theology of the University of the South in Sewanee, TN, and as Associate Organist at the Episcopal cathedrals of Atlanta, GA and Columbia, SC. He holds a BA in sacred music and organ performance from Lenoir-Rhyne College and an MM, MMA, and DMA in Organ Performance from the Yale School of Music.

212-774-4233

kmiller@stjames.org

Sexton & Verger

Emil Ramirez

Emil has worked at St. James’ Church since the summer of 2006. Prior to working here, he worked part-time at Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church. He and his longtime girlfriend, Jennifer, were married in March 2013. He enjoys working at St. James’ and helping keep God’s house clean and maintained.

Receptionist

Mercedes Rosario

Born and raised in Manhattan, I began at St. James’ as a temp receptionist in February 2006, and three months later was hired as full time staff. I have met many interesting people at St. James’. I love that things are never the same here at the receptionist desk, and it helps that I am a people person. (My family likes to call me “a social butterfly!”) I have a wonderful husband, Miguel Rosario, who I have shared my life with for the last 29 years. God has blessed us with six wonderful children—Miguel, Christina, Megan, Manuel, Mia, Matthew—and four grandchildren—Miguel the 4th, Madison, Benjamin, and Luis. My family loves going to the mountains in Glens Falls, NY, where we camp all summer long, and the little ones love fishing, canoeing and just exploring nature in all its wonders. Mike and I have volunteered for many years in amateur boxing. He began as a boxer at the age of 6, has won numerous titles, and today is an international referee and judge. I began as fan and became a computer scoring technician, both nationally and internationally. Today I am happy to say that I spend the better part of my day in a place I love with the people I have come to love as my family, the staff at St. James’.

mrosario@stjames.org

212-774-4200

Director of Administration & Finance

Jerry Sgambati