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Sisters of Mercy jubilarians

The Sisters of Mercy – Northeast Community celebrated jubilees for five sisters in Vermont who, collectively, have provided nearly 350 years of service to the Green Mountain State.
 
A special liturgy at the Mount St. Mary Convent chapel in Burlington honored the jubilarian sisters on Sept. 24. After Mass, a celebratory luncheon took place at the convent for Sisters of Mercy and Mercy Associates.
 
Vermont’s jubilarian have brought the works of Mercy to schools and parishes, hospitals, nursing homes, social service agencies and food pantries throughout the state.
 
Today, they work, volunteer, pray for people in need and advocate for social justice. Their advocacy work includes participating in rallies and vigils, working for change on behalf of women, the climate and immigrants, and seeking an end to racism and violence.
 
The Vermont Sisters of Mercy marking jubilees are:
 
75th jubilarians
Sister Germaine Compagna, 94, is the founder of a hospitality ministry at Mount St. Mary Convent, which serves women who have family members in treatment at the University of Vermont Medical Center. She also serves in prayer ministry.
 
 
Sister Jane Frances Matte, 95, is a former teacher who brought Communion to people at the medical center and a local nursing home. She now serves in prayer ministry.
 
70th jubilarian
Sister Gertrude Myrick worked as an administrator at the former Trinity College in Burlington; she also served in community leadership and as community archivist. She now volunteers and serves in prayer ministry.
 
60th jubilarians
Sister Jean Marie LaFreniere taught at Mater Christi School for 32 years and now serves in prayer ministry.
 
Sister Lucille MacDonald oversees the needs of the Vermont sisters as local coordinator. She ministered in rural Maine for 34 years, serving those who are homeless and struggling by providing emergency shelters, services and housing.
 
 
In memoriam
The Sisters of Mercy in Vermont remembered Sister Claire Boissy, a 60th jubilarian, who died on Aug. 4. She served at the Institute for Spiritual Development and taught at Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington.
  
The religious community extends its gratitude to the jubilarians for their dedicated service as Sisters of Mercy. They are part of a larger jubilarian celebration in the Northeast Community, where 91 sisters with more than 5,900 total years of service are being recognized in a yearlong celebration.
 
About the Sisters of Mercy
 
In Vermont, the Sisters of Mercy sponsor Mater Christi School and Mercy Connections in Burlington and Mercy Farm in Benson. Sisters in the state have long been active in education and social justice.
 
The Sisters of Mercy—an international community of Roman Catholic women—dedicate their lives to God through vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and service.  For more than 180 years, motivated by the Gospel of Jesus and inspired by the spirit of their founder, Catherine McAuley, the Sisters of Mercy have responded to the continually changing needs of the times.
 
Through prayer and service, the sisters address the causes and effects of violence, racism, degradation of Earth and injustice to women and immigrants. The sisters sponsor and serve in more than 200 organizations that work with those in need in the United States, Central and South America, Jamaica, Guam and the Philippines.

Visit the jubilarian website (sistersofmercy.org/northeast/northeast-2017-jubilarians)
to see profiles of these sisters and write a congratulatory message.



 
 

'The port from which one sails'

“Then David said to his son, Solomon, ‘Be firm and steadfast. Go to work without fear or discouragement, for the Lord, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or abandon you before you have completed all the work for the service of the house of the Lord.’”  1 Chr 28:20
 

When my second son began preschool, an experience relished by his five brothers, his reaction was less than enthusiastic. As we approached the brightly painted door that led to his classroom, I felt myself being pulled backward by the pressure of his tiny hand tugging on mine.
 
Looking down I saw the big brown eyes welling up with tears, a look of fear crossing his flushed face. A kindly, gray-haired woman came out and wrapped her arm around his shoulder, ushering him in to join the other children. As he turned to look at me with wide doe-eyes I was sure the lump in my throat would choke me. I waited for the inevitable with baited breath.
 
“MOMEEE!” came the blood-curdling scream. It wasn’t so much the word as the
impassioned, gut-wrenching way in which it was delivered that pierced my heart as I tore myself away, leaving him there in the obviously adequate care of his teacher.
 
New beginnings were not his cup of tea.
 
And so it is for many of us, even as adults. New beginnings, while often exciting and challenging, also signify endings. With each new beginning we are called to give up the security and comfort of old ways to move forward into the unknown. Even routine, boring or painful daily experiences may be difficult to relinquish because they have become an anchor holding us in place.
 
Famed author and Christian apologist C.S. Lewis uses a familiar analogy to explain the need for change: “It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.”
 
During a conversation with a young man who wished to follow Jesus, but only after the young man had returned home to say good-bye to his family, Jesus explains the importance of letting go of the past: “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.”
 
Jesus was not saying, as it may seem, that the past is something to be forgotten or ignored, but rather, that when the time comes for a decision to be made for the future, the past must take its place as the port from which one sails.
 
To continue to look back may prevent us from making what one Bible commentary refers to as an “instant decision of purpose” – the kind we must make when God calls us to something new and, often, something frightening.
 
There are, of course, times when change is not just a matter of decision. It is thrust upon us without warning and without our input. We lose a job, a home or a loved one, and our world comes undone. There is an enormous change that may seem, understandably, insurmountable.
 
For many people, the most difficult change is one from which none of us can escape – aging. With every new ache or pain, illness or medication we are reminded that,
physically, we are not the same person we used to be.
 
How do we deal with changes that threaten our peace of mind and heart? This first step is acknowledging that change is the way of life. We cannot escape it, but we can learn from it.
 
In truth, the most difficult and painful of changes offer the most opportunity for transformation, giving rise to resiliency, flexibility, patience, wisdom and a growing courage.
 
Those of us who become caretakers of an aging, sick or dying loved one, are just one example of this, often discovering a strength we did not know we had.
 
Life is changed and so are we, hopefully for the better.
 
I have found that in moving through the ebb and flow of our lives, we discover that our security is not found in the comfort of the status-quo, but rather in our own strength.
 
For me, courage and strength come from my faith in God.
 
And, by the way, my second son who was terrified of preschool, became a teacher.
 
Mary Regina Morrell is a freelance writer, editor, syndicated columnist, blogger and religion consultant at Wellspring Communications. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Twitter @mreginam6
 

 
 
 

21 pro-life ideas for building a culture of life

“Be Not Afraid” is the theme for Respect Life Month, an annual event observed by the Catholic Church throughout the United States to shine a light on the importance of defending and protecting the dignity of all human life, made in the image and likeness of God.
 
The culture of life will grow as long as we are willing to play our part. While not
everyone is called to full time prolife ministry or advocacy, we are all called to help build the culture of life within our families and communities—to walk with those who are vulnerable or hurting; to speak up on behalf of the innocent; to bear witness to the truth about abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide and other key pro-life issues.
 
Below are ideas for individuals or parishes to do, organized according to the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops’ Four Arms of Pro-Life Ministry. What is God calling you to do? During this Respect Life Month choose one of these activities and be not afraid to show that you are pro-life.
 
For more information on any of these ideas, call the Respect Life Office 658-6110 ext. 1176 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
 
Prayer and worship
1. Pray. Pray for the unborn, the elderly, those who hold public office, for prisoners and their families, for conversion of sinners, for refugees, for those suffering loss from natural disasters, for the culture of life to grow.
2. Organize a virtual pro-life prayer group.
3. Join Nine Days for Life.
4. Take part in 40 Days for Life or Life Chain.
5.  Begin a Cenacle of Life at your parish.
6. Fast from something you like as a sacrifice for a pro-life intention each day in October and encourage others to do so.
 
Public Education
7. Become informed about all life issues: abortion, assisted suicide, euthanasia, hunger and the poor, capital punishment, embryonic stem cell research, etc. Begin here and here.
8. Purchase (or download and print) pro-life pamphlets, booklets, etc. for the parish bookrack in your church.
9. Get permission to distribute USCCB-materials and pro-life articles in pews at your parish.
10. Decorate a bulletin board in the parish hall or religious education area with pro-life messages.
11. Bring pro-life speakers to your parish group or religious education class. Check out the Respect Life Speakers Bureau for ideas.
12. Donate pro-life education materials to school health offices and libraries.
13. Sponsor a pro-life movie night for your parish teens.
Pastoral Care
14. Collect maternity and baby clothes to give to pregnant women in need. Have a “baby shower” to raise funds and donations to assist Birthright or other pregnancy care centers.
15. Encourage anyone who has had an abortion to seek help from Project Rachel.
16. Donate food to your local food shelf.
17. Donate clothing or baked goods to homeless shelters in your community.
18. Become a trained Hospice volunteer.
19. Visit your local nursing home—ask how you can help offer companionship to residents.
 
Public Policy
20. Become informed about pro-life issues and legislation at the state and national level; stay updated by joining the Respect Life Roman Catholic Diocese Facebook Group.
21. Attend the Annual March for Life events in Montpelier and Washington, D.C.
 
  • Published in Diocesan

Worship and social justice

By Steven R. Marchand
 
It has been said that one of most striking characteristics of modernity is the fragmentation of the once-cohesive social fabric that held together political, moral and social communities. Concretely, this view of life results in many either-or ultimatums where a truly Christian view would suggest a both-and response.
 
In Catholicism, we hold many paradoxes together -- such as grace and nature, faith and reason, scripture and tradition, body and soul -- in such a way that each element remains in place in tandem with the other. True Christian teaching keeps us from veering into any kind of extremism.
 
Unfortunately, there crept into the minds of many in the Church in the mid and late 20th century a kind of dualism that pitted the worthy celebration of the liturgy against service to the poor and social activism. If one used resources to beautify the liturgy one was accused of stealing from the poor, and conversely, those laity, priests and religious who sought out the poor and marginalized were accused of abandoning prayer and the worship of God.
 
In reality, however, these two missions of the Church -- worship of God and service in the world -- are two sides of the same coin. It is impossible for the Christian community to worship God at Mass, hear the message of the Gospel and ignore those in need around them.
 
In the Old Testament, the connection between worship and justice is clear. In the Book of Amos we read, “Even though you offer me your burnt offering and cereal offerings, I will not accept them, and the peace offerings of your fatted beasts I will not look upon. Take away from the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. But let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:22-24).
 
In the New Testament, St. Paul warns both who would seek to put worship and justice over the other in 1 Corinthians 10-11. He begins by pointing out that it is hypocritical for the community that celebrates the Mass to do so while the poor go hungry. He follows that by stressing the importance of eliminating abuses at the Lord’s Supper and participating in the Eucharist only worthily.
 
In fact, both the worship of God and service to the disadvantaged are aspects of justice and charity. We all have a duty to pray and worship God according to the mind of the Church, to offer to God only the best of what we have in our churches (like music and sacred art) as a matter of rendering to God what is due.
 
These worthy services are for the edification of the whole Christian people, the rich and poor alike. The virtue of religion helps us to grow in our relationship with God through our attention and participation in the liturgy. Our participation in the Eucharist ties us into the redeeming sacrifice of Christ on the Cross for our salvation.
As the Second Vatican Council reminded us, the Eucharist is the “source and summit” of the power and life of the Church. The King of Kings deserves all the glory we can render Him as He is made present again on our altars.
 
And serving the Lord at the altar should be part of a seamless life of Christian charity. The spiritual treasure we receive at Mass should inspire and inflame our hearts with charity in service to our neighbor. Indeed, the Christian’s motive for social service and justice is that Christ himself is served when we serve those in need.
 
There is no contradiction then between service at the altar of the Cross and the altar of world, for Christ died that we all might have life and have it to the full.
 
As Catholics, we are all obliged to attend Mass with a pure heart and with great praise. At the end of every Mass, we are equally challenged to bring the
Good News and the love that we have first received from Christ into the world.
 
Let us worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness and remember that we serve the same Christ in both our worship and our service.
 
--Steven R. Marchand, a seminarian for the Diocese of Burlington, is scheduled to be ordained to the transitional diaconate by Bishop James F. Checchio, bishop of Metuchen, on Sept. 28 in Rome at the Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican at the Altar of the Chair.
 

Originally published in Vermont Catholic magazine, Fall 2017.
 
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