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Celebrating a Catholic Halloween and Thanksgiving

Fall brings with it several holidays that commonly are celebrated by Christians and non-Christians alike. While the secular focus of Halloween and Thanksgiving festivities can err toward consumerism and gluttony, the Christian roots and perspectives of these celebrations offer much more to celebrants. The word “Halloween” comes from “All Hallows’ Eve” (Oct. 31), which refers to the day before All Saints’ Day (Nov. 1). The noun “hallow,” which means “saint,” derives from the Old English adjective “hallowed” with which Christians should be familiar from its use in The Lord’s Prayer (“hallowed be thy name”). In some parts of the world, attending church services and lighting candles on the graves of the dead remain popular All Hallows’ Eve traditions. Christians have been celebrating thanksgiving meals since the time of Jesus and continue to do so each time they celebrate the Eucharist. (The Greek word “eucharistia” means “thanksgiving.”) Before the American holiday was instituted by Abraham Lincoln to celebrate unity and thanksgiving, the Eucharist was instituted by Jesus Christ to unify the faithful in thanksgiving to God for all creation (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1359-1361). Below are a few ideas to celebrate Halloween and Thanksgiving the Catholic way.
 
Saintly sweets
Having a party? Here are some ideas to make candy dishes inspired by saints. Fill bowls up with each of these candies and label them with the saint to which they correspond. It’s is a great way for kids and adults to learn more about saints while enjoying some delicious sweets too. St. Barbara, patron saint of lightning and fireworks - Pop Rocks St. Bernard, patron saint of mountaineers and skiers - Andes mints St. Corbinian, patron saint of bears - Gummy bears St. Florian, patron saint of fires and firefighters - Red Hots St. Francis, patron saint of animals - Frosted animal crackers St. Isidore, patron saint of farmers -Candy corn St. Nicholas, patron saint of children - Sour Patch Kids St. Perpetua, patron saint of cows -Cow Tails St. Peter, patron saint of fishermen - Swedish Fish St. Rupert, patron saint of salt miners -Salted caramel chocolates
 
Be a saint for Halloween
Teach children about different saints by having them dress up as one. Pick a saint based on the name of your church, child, family member or favorite saint. Research, read and learn more about the saint you’ve selected. Most saints can be depicted using traditional costumes with some added items that symbolize the saint. For instance, a princess costume could be St. Margaret, queen of Scotland or St.
Isabella, queen of Portugal; add and carry a cross to be St. Brigid, a Scottish princess; or St. Helena, mother of Constantine the Great.
 
Giving thanks
Give thanks to God before your Thanksgiving meal with this Thanksgiving Table Prayer. O Gracious God, we give you thanks for your overflowing generosity to us. Thank you for the blessings of the food we eat and especially for this feast today. Thank you for our home and family and friends, especially for the presence of those gathered here. Thank you for our health, our work and our play. Please send help to those who are hungry, alone, sick and suffering war and violence. Open our hearts to your love. We ask your blessing through Christ your son. Amen
--From “Celebrating Faith: Year-round Activities for Catholic Families,” by Mary Cronk Farrell
 
Back from the Dead Cemetery Walk Sunday, Oct. 29, 5 - 8 p.m. at St. John Vianney Parish, South Burlington. This evening is open to the whole family. “Back from the Dead Cemetery Walk” is an engaging and inspiring evangelization drama to help teach the Catholic faith about the “Last Things” including teachings on the Communion of Saints, the angels and the three great virtues: faith, hope and charity. For more information: backfromthedead.org.
 
--Originally published in the Fall 2017 Vermont Catholic magazine.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Published in Diocesan

‘Outcasts’ to be screened

On Thursday, Sept. 28, at 7:30 p.m., there will be a special screening of “Outcasts” by Grassroots Films in the Grand Maple Ballroom of the Davis Center at the University of Vermont. “Outcasts” is a powerful new documentary from Grassroots Films that shows the work of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal as they serve the poor in some of world’s toughest neighborhoods. This moving film depicts the realities of life as experienced by drug addicts, women engaged in prostitution, people dying of AIDS, prisoners and others in desperate situations –- along with the efforts of the Franciscan Friars to share hope in Christ with them. 
 
In addition to the film, there will be time for questions for friars and one of the film’s producers and to learn about ways to get involved in outreach to those in need in the local community.
 
Prior to the screening, there will be a Holy Hour with the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal at the Catholic Center at the university at 6 p.m.
 
The event is co-sponsored by Joseph’s House, the Catholic Center and the Catholic Student Association at the university. Tickets are required for the event and can be picked up at The Catholic Center, Davis Center and the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
 
For more information, call 802-951-4290 or 802-862-8403 or visit outcaststhemovie.com.
 
 

Collection to help Harvey victims

Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, vice-president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has called on the bishops to consider taking a special collection to support victims of Hurricane Harvey and to provide pastoral and rebuilding support to impacted Dioceses.
 
The collection will be taken in the statewide Diocese of Burlington Sept 2-3 or 9-10.
 
Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne has requested that the special collection be taken at all 73 Vermont Catholic parishes. Funds given to the collection will support the humanitarian and recovery efforts of Catholic Charities USA and will provide pastoral and rebuilding support to impacted Dioceses through the conference of Catholic Bishops.
 
“God works through us to serve the greater community, especially in times of great need,” the bishop said. “We are called to be generous to the victims of Hurricane Harvey just as so many responded to our needs in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene.  Our prayers go out to the families that have lost loved ones and to all who have lost homes and businesses.”
 
 
  • Published in Nation

Obituary: Mercy Sister Claire Boissy

Sister Claire Boissy (Sister Mary Bernice), 77, of the Sisters of Mercy Northeast Community, Vermont, died at the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington on Aug. 4.
 
She was born in Winooski on Nov. 5, 1938, the daughter of Isabelle (Devino) and Arthur Boissy. She attended St. Francis Xavier School in Winooski and Mount St. Mary Academy in Burlington. She received her bachelor’s degree in English from Trinity College in Burlington and a master’s in Sacred Scripture from St. Mary's College in Norte Dame, Ind.
 
She entered the Sisters of Mercy on Sept. 8, 1957, and professed her vows on Aug. 16, 1960. She taught at Mater Christi School and Mount St. Mary Academy in Burlington and at Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington. She also taught religious education in several parishes of the Diocese of Burlington.
 
Sister Boissy served on the General Administration for the Regional Community of the Sisters of Mercy, Vermont; she also served on the Initial Formation Team and was director of novices for the regional community.
 
She was involved in national leadership, serving on the governing board for the Federation of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas; chairperson of the Leadership Board -- Religious Formation Conference and chairperson of the New England Region of the Religious Formation Conference.
 
In 1989 Sister Boissy became director of the Institute for Spiritual Development, a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of Mercy. She was also a spiritual director.
 
She is survived by her sister-in-law, Blanche Boissy; many nieces and nephews; and her sisters in religion, the Sisters of Mercy. She was predeceased by her parents, her sister Pauline, and brothers Paul and Clayton Boissy.
 
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Wednesday, Aug. 9, at 11 a.m. in the Mount St. Mary chapel. Visiting hours will be 6 to 8 p.m. with a prayer service at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 8, at Mount St. Mary's. 
 
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