Log in
    

Edmundite Father Michael Carter ordained

It was a joyful day of smiles, handshakes, hugs and congratulations as newly ordained Edmundite Father Michael Carter entered this new phase of his life in a spirit of hope, expectation and trust in God.
 
Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne ordained him to the priesthood Sept. 16 at the Chapel of St. Michael the Archangel on the campus of St. Michael’s College in Colchester.
 
In remarks at the morning Mass, the bishop reflected on joy, noting that Pope Francis encourages all to be people of joy. “Joy is not a mater of fleeting moments of happiness…but knowing we are in God’s hands even when we are struggling,” he said, noting that the joy of Christians empowers them to do great things. “The joy of the priesthood is knowing we are configured to Christ” while serving others.
 
As a priest, Father Carter’s personal focus will be continuing to build connections with a wide array of people, believers and non-believers, Catholics and non-Catholics. “One of the great mysteries of God is God's ability to work into people's hearts even if they are rigidly opposed to spirituality and religion. I hope I can be a conduit of that journey,” he said. “In keeping with the charism of the Society of St. Edmund, my emphasis is always on those who find themselves marginalized from the Church and from God. It is in the margins that the creative power of God is most fundamentally displayed.”
 
The Society of St. Edmund – celebrating its 175th anniversary – founded St. Michael’s College.
 
In his homily at the ordination Mass, Bishop Coyne explained that though God made His entire people a royal priesthood in Christ, Jesus chose certain disciples to carry out publically, in His name and on behalf of humankind, a priestly office in the Church.
 
“Impart to everyone the Word of God which you have received with joy,” he told Father Carter. “Meditating on the law of the Lord, see that you believe what you read, that you teach what you believe and that you practice what you teach.”
 
He asked that the holiness of the new priest’s life be a “delightful fragrance” to the faithful so that by word and example he may build up the Church.
 
During the Mass, Father Carter publically resolved to care for the Lord’s flock, to worthily and wisely preach the Gospel and teach the Catholic faith and to celebrate the sacraments faithfully and reverently for the glory of God and the sanctification of the Christian people. He also resolved to implore God’s mercy upon the people entrusted to his care and to be united more closely every day to Christ and to consecrate himself to God for the salvation of all.
 
During the Litany of Supplication Father Carter lay prostrate in front of the altar, then, after the Laying on of Hands, Prayer of Ordination and Prayer of Consecration at the ordination, Edmundite Father David Cray, pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Charlotte and St. Jude Church in Hinesburg, assisted Father Carter in his investiture with the stole and chasuble.
 
Father Carter knelt before the bishop who anointed his hands with holy Chrism. He later placed a paten and chalice in the newly ordained priest’s hands. “Know what you are doing and imitate the mystery you celebrate: Model your life on the mystery of the Lord’s cross,” he said.
 
Born in Burlington, the son of Richard M. Carter and Kathleen M. Carter attended Christ the King School through eighth grade then Burlington High School. A member of the St. Michael's College Class of 2012, he earned a bachelor’s degree in religious studies with a minor in political science. He received a master of divinity degree from Boston College in 2016 and worked in the clinical pastoral education program at the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington.
 
He chose the Edmundite priesthood because during his college years he was inspired by the sense of camaraderie and brotherhood the members of the Society of St. Edmund embodied and by the way certain members modeled for him a spirit of justice and activism that he had not encountered before. “Not to in any way downplay the tireless and faithful efforts of priests working in the parishes of the Diocese of Burlington, but for myself as an individual I never discerned that parish ministry was my primary vocation, therefore an order that had parish connection without being specifically a parochial order was intriguing to me,” he said.
 
Father Carter is currently an assistant to Edmundite Father Charles Ranges in the Essex Catholic community, teaches at St. Michael's College and assists in Edmundite Campus Ministry.
 
“Our [Edmundite] foundational ethos is a spirit of education and evangelization, particularly to those who may not otherwise hear of the love of God,” Father Carter said in an interview before his ordination. “Working in education at St. Michael's College, sometimes among a population that has never encountered the love of God, provides ample opportunity for that blessing. Needless to say, my home state of Vermont is mission territory writ large.”
 
Asked about his gifts that he brings to the priesthood, Father Carter said, “I think one is an ability (or at least a desire) to be able to connect with people on a level that makes them comfortable. That means having no preconceived notions, no judgments of any kind and no agenda when speaking with people other than to let them know that they are heard, that they are respected and that they are loved, by both myself and by God. Everything else in ministerial life stems from that.”
 
A sense of humor is also important. “I pride myself on a sense of humor. I take my work and mission seriously, but my own quirks and weaknesses allow me to laugh at myself,” he said. “A ministry without laughter is a ministry doomed to failure.”
 
To men considering the priesthood, Father Carter suggests they see the fun, humor and joy in this life as much as the difficulties and sacrifice: “There are elements of both present, but they should balance each other out.”
 
Also, he calls them to recognize that God loves each person as an individual. “Don't try to be someone or something that you are not. God makes particular demands on God's priests, but one of those demands is not to cease being a distinct and unique individual. It takes all kinds, and there is room in the priesthood for all kinds,” he said.
 
The last ordination for the Society of St. Edmund was in 2014 when Father Lino Oropeza was ordained at St. Michael's College.
 
Father Carter asked that anyone that is concerned about the state of the Church to think seriously about the men in their lives that they think may have a vocation or might make a good priest and mention it to them. “Be it for the Diocese, the Society of St. Edmund or elsewhere, actual talking and contact with people and setting an example is what makes vocations appear real,” he said. “Prayers are wonderful and beautiful, but prayer without action is robbing yourself of the most effective way that God works in the world.”
 
 
 
  • Published in Diocesan

Understanding our young former Catholics: Part I

The numbers are bleak. Roughly half of Catholic teenagers lose their Catholic identity by their late 20’s, and of those who still self-identify as “Catholic,” very few have any connection with the Church. While this is something I think most of us have realized or experienced for quite a while, it is rather stark to see the statistics in plain black and white. It is worrisome -- worrisome for the Church and worrisome for them. 
 
In my travels throughout Vermont over the past two and half years, when I ask people “What are some of the concerns you have?” the top two are almost always, “What is going to happen to our small parishes?” and “What can we do to keep young people and families in the Church?” Both of these are serious topics that will obviously be discussed in the upcoming preparations for and convening of next year’s Diocesan Synod. In keeping with this, during the next few months I will offer some information and statistics that will help educate us about some of the substantial issues involved with these areas of concern.

I recently received a report from Notre Dame University that summarizes an extensive survey of young people who have left the Catholic Church.* The report seeks to understand first the reasons for their leaving the Church, second who these young people are now, and, finally, some implications for forming committed Catholic youth. It does so through the use of six significant findings, the first one of which I will mention here:

They are still believers. Young adults who are former Catholics still (mostly) believe in and interact with (some version of) God. Only 19 percent no longer believe in God. While the practice of prayer is less common, “57 percent of former Catholic emerging adults still pray at least sometimes.”

Implications and opportunity: “Leaving the Catholic Church rarely means becoming an atheist. Many former Catholics still believe in God or some other divine force. ...  This is not fundamentally different from emerging adults who are raised in other faiths. It demonstrates a widespread trend in this generation of moving away from organized religion but retaining a belief in and connection with the divine. These youths (and emerging adults) may be open to discussions about the nature of God that are more sophisticated and inviting than some may imagine.”

So they are “spiritual,” but not “religious.” Perhaps there is an opportunity to convince them that both are good choices: spiritual and religious.

 
*Manglos-Weber, Nicolette and Christian Smith, “Understanding Former Young Catholics: Findings from a National Study of American Emerging Adults,” Notre Dame University, 2017. 

--------------------
This article was originally published in the Aug. 26 through Sept. 1 issue of The Inland See bulletin.
 
  • Published in Diocesan

Pastoral plan

Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne is convening a Diocesan Synod to establish a pastoral plan for the immediate future of the Catholic Church in Vermont.
 
Work was done on the last pastoral plan for the statewide Diocese from 2003 through 2006. It was promulgated by then-Burlington Bishop Salvatore R. Matano “as a way of trying to address the reduction of the number of priests available to minister to the people of Vermont,” explained Msgr. John McDermott, vicar general for the Diocese of Burlington.
 
In addition, it attempted to address the demographic changes that had occurred and are occurring in Vermont, among them aging population, reduction in births and population shifts.
 
“An element of the synodal process will be to examine the present and future ministerial needs in Vermont,” Msgr. McDermott said. “It may be that the Diocese will need to make more pastoral changes to parishes in order to best serve the people of God.  At this time, there is no way of projecting what these changes might be. We will have to see how the synod process proceeds.”
 
Dioceses throughout the United States are engaged in pastoral planning processes to deal with similar issues as those facing the Diocese of Burlington.
 
For example, in the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings, Mont., the three major priorities that surfaced at the Leadership Summit for pastoral planning were parish life and liturgy, evangelization and discipleship and vocations to the priesthood. In the Diocese of Green Bay, Wisc., areas of pastoral concern were identified as evangelization; youth, young adult  and family; leadership; education; Eucharist; and the dignity of human life.
 
In the Diocese of Cheyenne, Wyo., pastoral concerns include liturgy and sacraments, catechesis, New Evangelization/youth, family life and vocations and stewardship. The pastoral plan concerns for the Archdiocese of Atlanta fall into four broad categories: Knowing Our Faith, Living Our Faith, Sharing Our Faith and Evolution of Our Parishes.
 
As the Diocese of Burlington prepares its pastoral plan, Msgr. McDermott said, “Our hope is to engage parishioners in the conversation to determine how best to strengthen Church life in Vermont.”

--------------
This story was original published in the Fall 2017 issue of Vermont Catholic Magazine.
 
  • Published in Diocesan

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

Statement of Bishop Christopher J. Coyne regarding the racial violence in Charlottesville, Va.

I stand with my brother Catholic bishops of the United States in decrying the blatant demonstration of racism that occurred in Charlottesville, Va., this past weekend, "condemning the violence and hatred that have now led to one death and multiple injuries. ... We offer our prayers for the family and loved ones of the person who was killed and for all those who have been injured. We join our voices to all those calling for calm.”

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, in his remarks on this tragedy, clearly states my own feelings as well: "Racism is a poison of the soul. It’s the ugly, original sin of our country, an illness that has never fully healed.” You and I as citizens of this great country, and as Catholics, must be constantly vigilant against racist attitudes, words and behaviors within our community. But, this is also especially true of ourselves. To quote Archbishop Chaput once more: "If we want a different kind of country in the future, we need to start today with a conversion in our own hearts and an insistence on the same in others."
 
 
  • Published in Diocesan

Thoughts on Vacations, Virtue and 'Playfulness'

I will soon be heading off for a summer vacation. Those of you who follow me on Facebook have seen my posts over the years from Pine Point, Maine, complete with photos of sun and rain, surf and turf, and long walks at the water’s edge. I’m fortunate enough to be able to spend time with a large number of family and friends, to relax and recharge. I always make sure I use all of my vacation days. After all, that’s what they’re there for. And believe it or not, I even think I am being a bit virtuous in this.
 
“What?” you might say, “Taking a vacation is virtuous? Surely, the bishop jests.” Not at all. I am sitting-on-a-beach-chair-reading-a-good-book-drinking-a-frosty-beer serious and I offer the encouragement of the saints themselves for your consideration.
 
St. Augustine in his treatise “On music” wrote, “I pray thee, spare thyself at times: for it becomes a wise man sometimes to relax the high pressure of his attention to work." 
 
St. Thomas Aquinas draws upon the writing of Aristotle and even promotes relaxation as virtuous, “Just as man needs bodily rest for the body's refreshment, because he cannot always be at work - since his power is finite and equal to a certain fixed amount of labor - so too is it with his soul, whose power is also finite and equal to a fixed amount of work.” The remedy St. Thomas offers is the virtue of eutrapelia, the virtue of “playfulness” or “fun,” intended to refresh the person in both body and soul.  Now, Thomas does place some guidelines on this: the “play” must not be immoral or “wicked,” it must be in moderation, and it is intended toward a good end, namely to renew and refresh. But, it really is intended to be fun and playful as well.
 
So, here is my encouragement: Even if you can’t get away to the coast of Maine or the lakeshore or any place at all for a vacation right now, make sure you try and grab some downtime to relax and refresh body and soul and practice the virtue of eutrapelia, so as to be refreshed to go out and take care of all the other duties of life and faith. A good balance between work and play is good for the soul. 
 

Bishops comment on opioid crisis

By Matt Hadro
 
(CNA/EWTN News)--Amidst a growing epidemic of drug overdose and opioid addiction, Catholic bishops have been speaking out on the need for prayer and solidarity with those suffering from addiction.
 
“The closer you get to the Catholic Church, the closer you get to the wounds of Christ,” Bishop Edward Burns of Dallas said during a June 14 press conference at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ recent meeting in Indianapolis.
 
“And it’s important for us to recognize that we accompany many people who are wounded,” he added. “It’s the very essence of the Church to reach out to those who are wounded.”
 
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have declared that opioid abuse is an “epidemic” in the United States. Every day, 91 Americans die of an opioid-related overdose. The drugs include those used in prescription painkillers like oxycodone, codeine, and morphine, but also heroin and synthetic opioids like fentanyl, which is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine.
 
Overdoses have also become the leading cause of death for Americans under age 50. Opioids are involved in over 60 percent of overdoses nationwide, the CDC noted, and opioid-related overdoses quadrupled between 1999 and 2015.
 
Many Americans have reported first using prescription drugs before they used heroin, and rates of “past month” and “past year” heroin use, as well as heroin addiction, went up among 18-25 year-olds from 2002-2013, the CDC found, as heroin has become more widely available and purer.
 
Heroin-related deaths have more than tripled between 2010 and 2015, driven in part by an increase in synthetic opioids like fentanyl being added to heroin and cocaine to increase the potency of the drugs, the CDC reported.
 
At the U.S. bishops’ annual spring meeting in Indianapolis, held June 14-15, several bishops addressed the rising opioid crisis and discussed what the Church is doing to help those addicted to opioids, and their families. “The problem is becoming just so massive,” said Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference.
 
In Vermont, parishes are trying to reach out to victims on the local level but are making sure to reach the families of victims as well, Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne explained at the June 14 press conference.
 
“Oftentimes we are kind of limited in what we can do on a state level,” he acknowledged. “But at our parishes and in our agencies in our parishes we can continue to reach out to addicted families,” he noted, stressing, “not just those who are in recovery, but also their families.”
 
This also involves finding foster parents for children of addicted parents, particularly those whose parents have overdosed and those who suffer from Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome.
 
Ultimately, Catholics must “recognize that it’s not just the addicts; it’s the whole family that suffers,” he continued.
 
Catholic Charities in the Galveston-Houston Archdiocese is “already on to this question,” Cardinal DiNardo noted, and is providing “the kinds of charity and help and counseling for them and their families that Catholic Charities by its professional expertise brings.”
 
On June 29, Bishop Edward Malesic of Greensburg, Penn., published a pastoral letter on the opioid crisis. In his diocese in Western Pennsylvania, more than 300 opioid-related deaths had ravaged the communities in the previous year.
 
In his “Pastoral Letter on the Drug Abuse Crisis from Death and Despair to Life and Hope,” Bishop Malesic affirmed that in response to the crisis, “we can either sink down into despair or rise up in hope.”
 
“This is a plague that has come into the homes and families of every city, town, and even the rural areas of our diocese,” he acknowledged. Yet Catholics must choose hope, he added.
 
“Hope is the certain belief that God will provide what we need to overcome the struggles we are now facing. If we are not guided by hope, we will give up before the battle is won. We must have hope!” he insisted.
 
And Catholics must give hope to those mired in the despair of addiction, he said. “We accompany them with courageous faith. We offer them the comforting presence and power of Jesus Christ, risen from the dead. Jesus will provide.”
 
Bishop Malesic exhorted priests, religious, and deacons to “reach out” in Christ’s name to those suffering from drug addiction, and “let them know that they are not alone.”
 
“With the power of prayer, we can lift up our needs and the needs of those who are addicted to a loving God who is concerned for all of us,” he said. “We know that prayer, this heartfelt and intimate communication with God, can make a dramatic difference in the life of someone coping with an addiction crisis.”
 
The bishop also announced initiatives the diocese was taking to respond to the crisis, including educational initiatives at the parish level and developing family recovery groups.
 
Last March, Massachusetts bishops also issued a statement in response to the state’s rising drug-overdose crisis, after the rate of overdose deaths had reached record levels there.
 
“We encourage our sisters and brothers who are suffering addiction or the addiction of loved ones to turn to their faith community for support, counsel and compassion, and we pray that those most affected will receive the physical, emotional and spiritual help that they need,” the commonwealth’s bishops stated.
 
  • Published in Nation

Father Sanderson's ordination

Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne ordained the Vermont Catholic community’s newest priest at a special Mass June 17 at St. Joseph Co-Cathedral in Burlington.

The newly ordained Father Joseph J. Sanderson has been assigned to serve as parochial vicar at Christ the King-St. Anthony Parish in Burlington.
           
“The call to be a Christian is a call to a life of self-emptying sacrifice, which is deepened even further in the priestly ministry when through ordination one is configured even more deeply into the person of Christ as the great High Priest,” Bishop Coyne said during the ordination Mass.
 
Born in Middlebury in 1990, Father Sanderson is the eldest of the three children of Jennifer and John Sanderson. He grew up in Orwell and attended Fair Haven Union High School, Our Lady of Providence Seminary, Providence College and St. John's Seminary in Boston.
 
“I chose to be a priest for the Diocese of Burlington because Vermont has always been and will always be my home,” Father Sanderson said. “It will be a great honor, privilege and joy for me to serve the people of this great State of Vermont, to labor for souls in this little corner of our Lord's vineyard.”
 
Read more in an upcoming issue of The Inland See.
 
 
Subscribe to this RSS feed
Bishop's Fund Annual Appeal