Vesper Service ignites zeal for
renewed collaboration among houses of worship
Hope and enthusiasm for a new era of ecumenical and interfaith cooperation were evident as leaders of various religions joined Catholics Jan. 28 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Burlington for evening prayer with Bishop Christopher J. Coyne.
“I hope our two churches can find ways to work together to reinvigorate both churches in Vermont,” said Rev. David Veale of St. Luke Episcopal Church in St. Albans. “Vermont and all of New England has become pretty much secular territory. I hope we can find ways to get the word about Jesus out there through our message and service.”
Veale was among numerous ecumenical and interfaith leaders who filled the cathedral the night before Bishop Coyne was installed as tenth Bishop of Burlington and witnessed him knock at the door three times; it was opened by Msgr. John McDermott, Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Burlington, and Msgr. Peter Routhier, rector of the cathedral.
The bishop kissed a crucifix and relic before sprinkling himself and those around him with holy water.
In his homily, Bishop Coyne said that while there are things that divide members of the different faith traditions, there are also many areas of unity, most especially love for the Lord Jesus Christ. “To my colleagues in the interfaith community, the shared belief we have in the Divine One and the common mission of care for the poor, sick, and needy in our midst unites us in charity and honors the One that we serve,” he said. “I pledge myself to work with you on those things about which we agree and speak the Catholic Church’s faith to those matters about which we disagree.”
Describing himself as a preacher and teacher of the Catholic faith, the bishop said his desire is to teach what the Church teaches, to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ and inform the consciences of his fellow Catholics about what Catholics believe and why. “While I always seek to foster the common good of all, I recognize that I do so as one within a diverse and multi-faceted culture of which the Catholic Church is only one faith among many.”
After the service, Rabbi James Glazier of Temple Sinai in South Burlington, said it was a “wonderful experience” to pray together. “It’s something I’ve hoped for for a long time. It’s nice to be acknowledged; it’s more than nice, it’s wonderful.”
The rabbi said he prays that the bishop will be embraced by his community and that he knows that community is not just Catholics. “I hope for his success and that a day of better interfaith relations be established,” he added.
Mercy Sister Lindora Cabral of Burlington appreciated Bishop Coyne’s emphasis on the common good. “His emphasis on working together…and on peace was wonderful,” she said, adding her hope that he will “be out among the people” to address issues of peace and nonviolence.
Speaking in his homily about The Golden Rule of doing to others what one would want done to oneself, the bishop said an act rooted in communal charity and aimed at the common good urges one to look even further, to the roots of and possible solutions to poverty.
“It is best summed up in the familiar adage, ‘Give someone a fish and you feed them for a day. Teach them to fish and you feed them for a lifetime,’” he said. “My hope and prayer is that we can all work within a unity of charity that probes the deeper questions of how to further both the individual and the common good while seeking only that that good be returned in kind.”
During a reception after the prayer service, Carole Avey of Marlborough, Mass., the bishop’s first cousin once removed, described him as smart, personable and faith-filled. “He’s an exceptional man.”
Story by Cori Fugere Urban, Vermont Catholic staff writer