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Dr. Carolyn Woo to speak at diocesan conference

A former head of Catholic Relief Services will be in Vermont to speak at the “Action for Ecological Justice: Celebrating a Year of Creation” conference at St. Michael's College on Sept. 30 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The conference will be the main event of the Diocese of Burlington’s Year of Creation, a yearlong, statewide, intentional focus on embracing the message of Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical letter, “Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home.”
 
Dr. Carolyn Woo, who from 2012-2016 was president and CEO of CRS, the U.S. Catholic Church's official, international humanitarian and development aid agency, will present a personal look at the encyclical she helped Pope Francis present in Rome, at environmental degradation and its effect on the poor and at measures to minimize further environmental harm from carbon emissions and remediate damage already done.
 
With perspectives from scientists, politicians, activists, economists, professionals, academics and people of various faiths, the conference will offer the opportunity for dynamic conversations about the state of creation and how people can work together for a sustainable future.
 
CRS staff “works face to face every day with the effects of climate warming,” Woo said. These include working with farmers whose livelihood is negatively impacted by erratic rainfall, which causes problems like drought on one extreme and soil erosion from deluges of rain on the other.
 
Catholic Relief Services was founded in 1943 by the Catholic bishops of the United States to serve World War II survivors in Europe. Since then, it has expanded to reach more than 100 million people in over 100 countries on five continents.
 
Its mission is to assist impoverished and disadvantaged people overseas, working in the spirit of Catholic social teaching to promote the sacredness of human life and the dignity of the human person. With that mission rooted in the Catholic faith, CRS operations serve people based solely on need, regardless of their race, religion or ethnicity. In the United States, CRS engages Catholics to live their faith in solidarity with the poor and suffering people of the world.
 
Before working for CRS, Woo served from 1997 to 2011 as dean of the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business. During her tenure, the Mendoza College was recognized frequently as the nation’s leading business school in ethics education and research. It received and has retained top ranking from Bloomberg BusinessWeek since 2010 for its undergraduate business program.
 
Prior to the University of Notre Dame, Woo served as associate executive vice president for academic affairs at Purdue University.
 
She was one of five presenters in Rome at the release of Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment in 2015.
 
Her faith journey and work at CRS are recounted in her book, “Working for a Better World,” published in 2015 by Our Sunday Visitor.
 
Representing CRS, Woo was featured in the May/June 2013 issue of Foreign Policy as one of the 500 most powerful people on the planet and one of only 33 in the category of “a force for good.” Her Catholic News Service monthly column took first place in the 2013 Catholic Press Association Awards in the category of Best Regular Column—Spiritual Life.
 
Woo was born and raised in Hong Kong and immigrated to the United States to attend Purdue University where she received her bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees.
 
She is married to Dr. David E. Bartkus; they have two sons. Her parish is the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore.
 
The Vermont event at which she will be the keynote speaker is hosted by the Catholic Church in Vermont. Sponsors for the event include Catholic Relief Services; Oregon Catholic Press; St. Michael's College; the Sisters of Mercy; Catholic Climate Covenant; United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Department of Peace, Justice and Human Development; Courtyard Burlington Harbor Hotel; Keurig Green Mountain Coffee; Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity and Green Mountain Monastery.
 
The conference at St. Michael’s College will be open to people of all faiths.
 
General registration is $35 per person and includes morning pastries, lunch and afternoon breakout sessions. Students can register for free.
 
For more information, call Stephanie Clary at 802-846-5822.

Originally published in the Summer 2017 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.
  • Published in Diocesan

Standing up to 'weisure'

By Carolyn Woo
 
An essay in The New Yorker on workload referenced renowned economist John Maynard Keynes, who, in the 1930s, projected the forthcoming of a three-hour workday due to the rise in living standards and incomes. In 1964, observing unprecedented conveniences in the office, home and on the road, Life magazine presented two reflections titled "Emptiness of Too Much Leisure" and "How to Take Life Easy."
 
Well, the projections got the higher incomes and conveniences right. In fact, they probably undershot the degree of automation as I peruse evaluations of robotic floor cleaners.
 
But something must have gone awry as people in full-time jobs are not working less or enjoying more leisure. Project: Time-Off reports that Americans left 662 million vacation days unused in 2016. Essentially, workers gave up "income" that has been earned.
 
The Internet with its massive connectivity has irreversibly changed the way we work. Benefits attributed to these advances include increased productivity, speed of response, flexibility in when and where we work and the ability to be in many different places at the same time.
 
Yet, whatever freedom and control we are supposed to gain, working less is not part of the parcel. Salon cited findings from different studies noting in one that 65 percent of respondents felt they had to be accessible outside of work; several other reports suggest that smartphones and tablets could add two to five hours of work a day for professionals.
 
One could surmise from the prevalence of sleep disorders that the quality of our rest when we do get it has also been compromised. Forbes reported that less than 50 percent of respondents regularly get a solid night's sleep, and 40 million prescriptions for sleep aid were issued in 2011 to address this problem.
 
The blending of work and personal times is the mode for how we conduct our activities now. Attention to work and personal business is fluid, demarcated by no real boundaries.
 
We check Amazon deals, latest Facebook postings, news alerts and personal messages while at work; the reverse finds us attending to office e-mails, sales results, requests for meetings interspersed with dinner preparation, bath times, morning routines, etc.
 
"Me-time" or the time to slow down and be present to oneself comes in short episodes, punctuated not only by work but also by the worries, conflicts and anxiety that work can trigger. Not only is "me-time" rendered obsolete, "me-space" is similarly colonized with work devices following us in the car, in the mall, in the gym, at kids' sports practice, everywhere in the home, with some people taking their devices to work in bed and others to bathrooms.
 
This blurring of work and leisure is so prevalent that it is given its own term "weisure" by sociologist Dalton Conley. As "weisure" finds its place in our lexicon, what about the words "linger," "savor," "cherish"? When will Beethoven's "Emperor" Concerto have its own 39 minutes of playing time and not just as background for work?
 
In the Third Commandment to keep holy the Sabbath, God mandated a day of rest. Its purpose is not just the cessation of labor but an invitation to imbibe the beauty of God's creation, to mark our freedom from slavery, to be held in God's goodness and unconditional love and to cultivate mindfulness for His presence in our daily existence with its share of joy and toil.
 
Has the speed of the Internet become the modern-day Pharaoh who determines how much and how fast we work? Would today's golden calf the Israelites equated with God look like our mobile devices?
 
How much of "me" does one want to surrender? How worthy is the recipient?

Woo is distinguished president's fellow for global development at Purdue University and served as the CEO and president of Catholic Relief Services from 2012 to 2016. She will be in Vermont to speak at the “Action for Ecological Justice: Celebrating a Year of Creation” conference at St. Michael's College on Sept. 30.
 
  • Published in Nation

Former head of CRS to speak at Vermont conference on "Laudato Si'"

A former head of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) will be in Vermont in September to speak at the “Action for Ecological Justice: Celebrating a Year of Creation” conference at Saint Michael's College on September 30th. The conference will be the main event of the Diocese of Burlington’s Year of Creation, a yearlong, statewide, intentional focus on embracing the message of Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical letter, “Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home.”

Hosted by the Catholic Church in Vermont, sponsors for the event include Catholic Relief Services, Oregon Catholic Press, Saint Michael's College, Sisters of Mercy, Catholic Climate Covenant,  United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Department of Peace, Justice and Human Development, Courtyard Burlington Harbor Hotel, Keurig Green Mountain Coffee, Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity, and Green Mountain Monastery.

General registration is $35 per person and includes morning pastries, lunch and afternoon breakout sessions. Students can register for free.

To register or learn more, visit: vermontcatholic.org/actionforecojustice.
 
Dr. Carolyn Woo, who from 2012-2016 was president and CEO of CRS, the U.S. Catholic Church's official, international humanitarian and development aid agency, will present a personal look at the encyclical she helped Pope Francis present in Rome, at environmental degradation and its effect on the poor and at measures to minimize further environmental harm from carbon emissions and remediate damage already done.
 
With perspectives from scientists, politicians, activists, economists, professionals, academics and people of various faiths, the conference will offer the opportunity for dynamic conversations about the state of creation and how people can work together for a sustainable future.
 
CRS staff “works face to face every day with the effects of climate warming,” Woo said. These include working with farmers whose livelihood is negatively impacted by erratic rainfall, which causes problems like drought on one extreme and soil erosion from deluges of rain on the other.
 
Catholic Relief Services was founded in 1943 by the Catholic bishops of the United States to serve World War II survivors in Europe. Since then, it has expanded to reach more than 100 million people in over 100 countries on five continents.
 
Its mission is to assist impoverished and disadvantaged people overseas, working in the spirit of Catholic social teaching to promote the sacredness of human life and the dignity of the human person. With that mission rooted in the Catholic faith, CRS operations serve people based solely on need, regardless of their race, religion or ethnicity. In the United States, CRS engages Catholics to live their faith in solidarity with the poor and suffering people of the world.
 
The conference at St. Michael’s College will be open to people of all faiths.
 
For more information, call Stephanie Clary at 802-846-5822.

To learn more about the Year of Creation please visit: vermontcatholic.org/yearofcreation.
 

Farmers help one another

If a man is taught to farm, he is sustained for life.
 
If entire generations of children and teenagers are taught the ins and outs of agriculture, they change the world around them, creating a culture of food stability and economic growth.
 
This mentality and curriculum is what Uganda representatives from the Gayaza Girls High School are implementing thanks to a collaboration with Future Farmers of America coordinated by Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. bishops' overseas relief and development agency.
 
"Our aim is to help improve food security in communities," said Bruce White, CRS' project director of the Farmer to Farmer Program for East Africa. "The whole idea of finding a way to educate youth on agriculture and make a business from it is really powerful."
 
It was four days of learning and discussion for all during the Arkansas Future Farmers of America Convention in June where an international delegation from Uganda visited to learn how to establish a structured agricultural education in their country.
 
"My interest is seeing that every child who steps in school grows a passion for agriculture," through knowledge and activities, said Ronald Ddungu, deputy head teacher of academics and innovations at Gayaza.
 
CRS helped make the connection between their staff in Uganda and Future Farmers of America in the spring 2016. George Ntibarikure, agriculture adviser for CRS in Uganda, visited an agriculture education program in North Carolina and was impressed by the knowledge and business-minded work of the students and teachers. Ntibarikure said he was particularly impressed when he discussed agriculture with a student who knew not only the mechanics of the trade, but the business side.
 
While Uganda is predominantly an agricultural country, younger youth did not have any training. White said agriculture is often seen as "a road to poverty," yet this program will show that there is vast economic opportunity.
 
"We're trying to get the youth, those in high school, to grow in that culture" before college, Ntibarikure told the Arkansas Catholic, newspaper of the Diocese of Little Rock.
 
After the visit, CRS helped bring educators from various regions of the national FFA to Uganda in the fall, including Nina Crutchfield, a local program success specialist for 10 years for the national FFA organization and member of St. Albert Church in Heber Springs. National FFA members shared industry insights and the model that teachers in the U.S. use to educate agriculture students. A set of recommendations was passed along and the progress was discussed during the convention.
 
White said bringing the delegation to the U.S. is a direct result of "Catholic pew donation," which allowed this program to begin.
 
The program -- styled after the Future Farmers of America program and dubbed Youth Future Farmers of Africa, Uganda -- has started at the Gayaza Girls High School in Kampala, the oldest and one of the most revered girls school in the country, sitting on more than 90 acres of land. More than 34 other schools have started the clubs in their schools in the surrounding regions, with monetary help from local and global organizations, as well as money raised by students.
 
An annual farm camp experience allows students to put into practice what they've learned, from plowing fields, helping a cow give birth, harvesting and having projects or fun activities for friendly competition. Technical speakers also are invited to share their knowledge about the agriculture industry.
 
The fourth annual farm camp will be held in August, where about 200 youth and 50 teachers are expected to attend.
 
In April, the school hosted a farm carnival for the first time, with proceeds divided between the farm and students, said Brian Kibirige, farm manager at Gayaza.
 
"I'm happy to be in this discussion … and just to see the youth excited," he said.
 
The program not only includes high school students, but grade schoolers, called Young FFA Uganda, and teachers, called Teachers and Educators FFA Uganda.
 
The curriculum will be set up in stages:
-- Year one: vegetables, grown on a farm or greenhouse.
-- Year two: dairy and cattle farming, which will include raising cows, milk management and production of dairy products.
-- Year three: poultry and pigs, focused on animal science.
-- The remaining years will be focused on banana planting, a prominent industry in Uganda.
 
While Gayaza had set up a farmer's club, it is the long-term structure -- the educational side -- that the delegation is interested in establishing.
 
"We need to make the teachers the practitioners," said Ddungu, who is a driving force for the program.
 
Once teachers are dedicated to agricultural curriculum, it'll make the students more involved and having a uniform system that guarantees students that go through the program come out with a certain set of skills and knowledge is the goal, he added.
 
Crutchfield, who taught agriculture education for 14 years, said watching this new organization form is a glimpse of what it must have been like when the Future Farmers of America was being formed more than 80 years ago.
 
"God's providence is in it all. I never dreamed my passion for teaching and youth, being Catholic and my job all would intersect at the same time," she said.
Creating food stability is essential for any nation, which all "goes back to Catholic teaching. … When people aren't hungry, they aren't fighting," she added.
 
  • Published in World

Dr. Carolyn Woo to speak in Vermont

A former head of Catholic Relief Services will be in Vermont in September to speak at a Year of Creation conference, the signature event of the Diocese of Burlington’s yearlong, statewide, intentional focus on embracing the message of Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical letter, “Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home.”
 
Dr. Carolyn Woo, who from 2012-2016 was president and CEO of the U.S. Church's international humanitarian agency based in Baltimore, will present a personal look at the encyclical she helped Pope Francis present in Rome, at environmental degradation and its effect on the poor and at measures to minimize further environmental harm from carbon emissions and remediate damage already done.
 
In a telephone interview from her home in South Bend, Ind., Woo gave examples of how CRS staff “works face to face every day with the effects of climate warming.” These include working with farmers whose livelihood is negatively impacted by erratic rainfall, which causes problems like drought on one extreme and soil erosion from deluges of rain on the other.
 
She spoke of people who rely on fishing as a livelihood put out of work when a lake dries up and devastation to farmers when crops wither and die. Rises in sea level or storms decimate homes and livelihoods.
 
“At CRS, we have been working for years with the consequences of climate change and also the erratic behavior of weather,” Woo said. “We know that reality through experience.”
 
Catholic Relief Services was founded in 1943 by the Catholic bishops of the United States to serve World War II survivors in Europe. Since then, it has expanded to reach more than 100 million people in 101 countries on five continents.
 
Its mission is to assist impoverished and disadvantaged people overseas, working in the spirit of Catholic social teaching to promote the sacredness of human life and the dignity of the human person. Although that mission is rooted in the Catholic faith, CRS operations serve people based solely on need, regardless of their race, religion or ethnicity. In the United States, CRS engages Catholics to live their faith in solidarity with the poor and suffering people of the world.
 
Woo – who grew up in Hong Kong -- encourages dialogue with persons who consider global warming a hoax, and she encourages them to encounter situations that exemplify the severity of the situation caused by global warming. “We have to walk in their shoes to see what drives their thinking,” she said. “They have probably experienced certain types of framing that suggests all the evidence is false.”
 
Various measures to limit the harmful effects of global warming on the poor have had some success, such as preparing coastal communities for storms to reduce the risk of loss of life and property. These include building homes in safer locations, building sturdier homes, preplanning community responses and mobilizing local and government groups.
 
She offered three key messages about the environment:
 
+ The environment is God’s gift to humankind and is meant for everyone.
 
+ There must be responsibility and action on behalf of this gift so that it is cherished and nourished for everyone.
 
+ There must be dialogue with people who don’t believe climate change is happening, that it damages the Earth and human-made actions affect it.
 
For details on the conference at which she will speak, check vermontcatholic.org/yearofcreation. The conference will be open to people of all faiths.


--------------------
Originally published in the 2017 spring issue of Vermont Catholic Magazine.

Catholic Relief Services commits $5 million to Hurricane Matthew response in Haiti

BALTIMORE, Md.--Catholic Relief Services is committing an initial $5 million to help Haiti and other countries in the Caribbean recover from Hurricane Matthew, the powerful storm that has left hundreds dead and devastated communities in this nation still recovering from the earthquake that struck in 2010.
 
“Haiti in particular has once again been struck by a tragedy,” said Sean Callahan, CRS chief operating officer. “This commitment shows that we will continue to stand with its people, offering our hand in friendship to help and support them in this time of dire need.”
 
The funds will be used to continue and expand relief work that began even before Matthew hit on Oct. 4 as CRS staff pre-positioned supplies in areas where the storm was expected to make landfall.
 
Based on the most critical needs -- still being determined as teams are reaching areas cut off by the storm -- CRS’ response will include:
 
+ Emergency shelter materials: tarps, ropes and blankets and construction of temporary shelters using local materials that are cost-effective and easy to assemble.
+ Drinking water, hygiene kits, hand-washing stations to prevent diseases outbreak. The area is still reeling from a cholera outbreak in the months following the earthquake and there is a high-risk for another outbreak.
+ Cash to families to cover their most immediate needs.
+ Living supplies, including kitchen utensils and buckets.
 
CRS teams rode out the storm in towns like Les Cayes, Dame Marie and Jeremie on Haiti’s southwest peninsula that took the hardest hit. Once it passed, they immediately began assessing damage and distributing pre-positioned supplies to help residents recover from the 140-mph winds, storm surges and as much as 40 inches of rain.
 
“We have seen roofs blown off houses, damaged homes and waters flooding the streets, but we still don’t know the full scale of the damage. We will be doing all we can to reach the most affected areas as quickly as possible,” said Chris Bessey, CRS country representative in Haiti.
 
The $5 million represents an initial commitment to the recovery of Haiti, along with the Dominican Republic, Cuba and other countries affected. It will be augmented by more funds, from both public and private sources. Rebuilding destroyed homes and restoring lost agricultural fields are expected to take years.
 
High population density, severe deforestation and decaying infrastructure make Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere, particularly vulnerable to the effects of natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes and floods.
 
It was a hurricane that first brought CRS to Haiti in 1954 when Hazel left widespread damage and more than 1,000 dead. The agency has been at work in the country ever since.
 
For information on How to Help CRS relief efforts from Hurricane Matthew, visit
crs.org.
 
 
 
  • Published in World

Charlotte parish observes 'Freedom Sunday' with program on human trafficking

CHARLOTTE—Human trafficking is an issue even in Vermont.
 
That was the message Sister of Providence Pat McKittrick brought to Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church on Freedom Sunday, Sept. 25.
 
“Kids today think it’s not going to happen to them,” said the coordinator of health ministries/faith in action from Community Health Improvement of the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington.
 
But it does happen locally.
 
Burlington, she said, is a convenient drop-off place for traffickers between Canada and New York or Boston.
 
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime defines human trafficking as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.
 
In sex trafficking, criminals earn children’s trust then force them into participation in escort services, nude dancing, stripping, pornography and prostitution. They meet the children’s basic needs if the children are obedient and sometimes take them across state lines to follow sporting, recreational and cultural events.
 
According to International Justice Mission, an international anti-slavery organization, there are still more than 45 million people who are being bought, sold and used against their will.
 
It sponsored Freedom Sunday, and Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish joined in the observance.
 
Sister McKittrick said that 50-80 percent of persons who are trafficked see a health care provider, but the trafficking goes undetected because they are accompanied by someone posing as a boyfriend or relative who prevents their situation from being exposed. Many victims are afraid to speak up even if left alone with a health care provider.
 
In Vermont, such victims can call 211 from any phone; it is the easily-remembered, confidential number to dial for information about and referrals to health and human services and community organizations.
 
“Awareness is the most important thing,” Sister McKittrick said. “We need to be aware of what is around us.”
 
If someone suspects a person is being trafficked or needs some kind of services, just mentioning 211 in private could help to save a life.
 
“Human trafficking is a form of modern slavery,” she said, encouraging persons to be committed to building community and looking out for others, to have a clear vision of what really is happening in their community and in the world, to build relationships among health care and faith communities to address needs and “to have the courage to do what you have to do.”
 
Oftentimes persons fall victim to human trafficking out of desperation – they need money to feed their children or pay their rent or they are addicted to drugs. Some have been “thrown away” by their families, some are homeless or have learning or physical disabilities.
 
Anyone with a kind of vulnerability is vulnerable to being victimized, she added.
 
In addition, according to Catholic Relief Services, traffickers prey on migrants seeking employment or escape from conflict. When they can find meaningful, dignified work where they live, they are less likely to risk believing traffickers’ promises of better lives elsewhere.
 
Sister McKittrick outlined various types of human trafficking into which both men and women, boys and girls are trapped: sex, labor and organ transplant. The average age of those trafficked is 15 or 16 or younger, she added, noting that some persons who are trafficked are branded because “traffickers want to have their property” marked.
 
The social justice teachings of the Catholic Church call for a response to human trafficking, Sister McKittrick said, noting the teachings about human dignity, respect for human life, solidarity, caring for the vulnerable and sharing one’s resources.
 
Edmundite Father David Cray, pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church and of St. Jude Church in Hinesburg, said it was important to join in the Freedom Sunday observance “to let people know what is happening.”
 
He wanted parishioners to know about the human trafficking situation and what they can do to help.
 
Offering suggestions from Catholic Relief Services, Father Cray encouraged people to speak out about human trafficking to their lawmakers to find ways to help victims and end human trafficking, to support CRS in its anti-trafficking work throughout the world and to pray for those who are held captive by human traffickers.
 
  • Published in Parish
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