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Flynn Estate Scholarship Program

For more than 40 years Vermont Catholic Charities Inc. has been supporting the educational and economic needs of children in Chittenden County with funds from the late John J. Flynn bequest.
 
“The Flynn Estate Scholarship Program is available to provide supplemental assistance to families who find themselves unable to meet their tuition commitment at a Catholic school in Chittenden County because of unforeseen circumstances,” noted Mary Beth Pinard, executive director of Vermont Catholic Charities. “The funds are not intended to be planned budget tuition income for the schools.”
 
In February $40,997 was awarded to 16 families (23 students), and in May $19,022 was awarded to 11 families (16 students). Each year $60,000 is available for Vermont Catholic Charities to distribute.
 
Students who have received scholarships this year attend Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington, Mater Christi School in Burlington, St. Francis Xavier School in Winooski, Christ the King School in Burlington and St. Therese Digital Academy.
 
“The Flynn scholarships help families, tremendously, because they serve as a safety net … for families who with all good intentions contracted to pay a specific amount for the year and then an unforeseen hardship occurs and they are falling behind in their financial obligations,” commented Sister of Mercy Laura DellaSanta, Rice principal. “It is a one-time appeal that Rice can make for a particular family. It is not something families themselves apply for, but an appeal made by the school for an identified during-the-year hardship. It is always a pleasure to inform the family; [the scholarship] is received with relief and thankfulness by the family.”
 
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Catholic Schools Care for Creation

In response to Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne's call for a Year of Creation focused on Pope Francis’ encyclical, “Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home," Catholic schools in Vermont immediately sprang to action planning a statewide day of creation education, action and prayer. On April 12, each Catholic school participated in Catholic Schools Care for Creation Day. Initiatives included immediate tasks and long-term projects.
 
Responding to the call to care for creation is part of the Catholic schools’ mission “to instill faith values in students and to create a desire to make a positive difference in the world.” Some schools began the day of service with Mass or another form of prayer. Others read and reflected upon quotes from “Laudato Si’” throughout the day. It was important for students to understand that this day wasn’t just in service to the world, but to their neighbors and to God as well.
 
“Care for creation is a matter of social justice because the ones who are most affected by pollution and climate change are the poor of the world,” Bishop Coyne said. “I hope many Catholics will take advantage of the opportunities being offered throughout the diocese to celebrate this Year of Creation.”
 
Vermont Catholic schools emphatically embraced the opportunity to spend some extra time beholding God’s creation and ensuring that it remains bountiful for generations to come.
 
Read about each school’s Care for Creation Day projects below. For more about the Year of Creation: vermontcatholic.org/yearofcreation.
 
Students at St. Monica-St. Michael School in Barre learned about reusing and recycling materials with an eco-fashion show, where students designed and modeled clothing creations made from materials found in recycle bins. As part of an ongoing project, students planted seeds in recyclable containers that will later be transferred to the school garden. Once in the earth, the seedlings will grow into food that sustains bodies. Students and their families share in the cultivation, growth, harvest and consumption.
 
Students at The School of Sacred Heart St. Francis de Sales in Bennington used old newspapers to create biodegradable flower vases. The potted plants will be gifted to elderly individuals in the area and can be placed directly into the ground.
 
Everyone who attends St. Michael School in Brattleboro was encouraged to use sustainable transportation on April 12. Many walked, biked or carpooled to school. Members of the school community worked together on waste reduction strategies that could be implemented, with specific grades focusing on recycling and compost efficiency. Other grades focused on area beautification with litter pick-up and gardening. Others created an awareness and education bulletin board for visitors and as a reminder for everyone at the school.
 
Each classroom at The Bishop John A. Marshall School in Morrisville has prominent recycle and compost bins with a smaller trash bin alongside them. The school no longer provides single-use plastic straws or water bottles. There are water-bottle filling stations for reusable water bottles. Lunch trays are biodegradable. All of this is part of the school’s ongoing sustainability efforts.
 
Students at Christ the King School in Rutland led a prayer service designed to help people understand how they can contribute to ecological justice. Throughout the year, students will work with Marble Valley Grows to plant a garden and participate in tastings to promote the Farm to School programs. They will also learn about and begin a composting program for the lunch room.
 
Students at Christ the King School in Burlington and Mount St. Joseph Academy in Rutland spent their mornings cleaning up local parks and beautifying creation for area residents to enjoy.
 
Good Shepherd Catholic School in St. Johnsbury recently received a grant that allows them to begin construction on an outdoor nature classroom. After “greening up” the local area on April 12, students and staff gathered in the gym to plant seeds. Later in the spring, flower seedlings will be donated to the local eldercare home and vegetable seedlings to the community garden. Some of each will be reserved to plant in the outdoor nature classroom upon its completion.
 
Students at Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington helped to return the local ecosystem to balance by removing invasive species from a trail on school grounds and cultivating the land for new growth. Money collected from a dress-down day on the April 12 was donated to Pure Water for the World, a Rutland-based non-profit dedicated to sustainable, safe water solutions.
 
At St. Francis Xavier School in Winooski, students learned about the impact of separating food waste and began implementing a compost program in their cafeteria and classrooms.
 
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Reduce, reuse, recycle, compost

Nineteen kindergarten and first-grade students from St. Michael’s School in Brattleboro donned green construction hats as they learned a lesson in the three R’s – not reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmatic – but reducing, reusing and recycling.
 
During an April 12 visit to the Windham Solid Waste Management District in Brattleboro they saw how recycled materials are sorted and bundled for sale and how compost is made.
 
It was part of the school’s observance of the Diocese of Burlington’s Year of Creation, and the children understood the importance of caring for what Pope Francis calls “our common home,” the Earth.
 
“Not reducing, reusing and recycling is bad for the Earth,” said Jackson Ferreira, 7, a first grader.
 
“The Earth is our home, and we should respect it because God gave it to us,” added classmate Kalyn Curtiss, 7.
 
Before taking a tour of the facility, the children and their chaperones listened to a presentation by Kristen Benoit, program coordinator for the management district. “Everyone makes trash, but we can make the trash smaller by making smarter decisions,” she said.
 
Reducing consumption, reusing items, recycling recyclables and composting food waste and other compostables are all smarter decisions.
 
Benoit said every Vermonter produces about four and a half pounds of trash a day; that equals 1,640 soccer balls per year per person. “Our job here is to help make it less,” she commented.
 
Seventy-five percent of all trash is recyclable; recycling 2,000 pounds of paper saves 17 trees, 7,000 gallons of water and 380 barrels of oil, she noted.
 
Paper, for example, can be recycled to make tissue paper, bathroom tissue and egg cartons. Soda cans can be recycled to make more soda cans, and milk jugs can be turned into carpet backing.
 
As for compost, Benoit said 30 percent of household trash is generally food and yard waste – items that could be composted “to make really good dirt for your plants.”
 
Putting food into landfills is not only unnecessary, it creates harmful methane gas.
 
Liz Martin, the kindergarten and first-grade teacher at St. Michael’s School, said during Lent the children made a special “sacrifice” to take better care of the Earth God has given them. “We’re going to try to do that for the entire year, not just Lent,” she added.
 
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Students research water quality

Sarah Eustis and Katie Garret, students at Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington, are doing research to determine the health of two local streams and their impact on Lake Champlain.
 
It is more than research; it’s a way for them to put their faith in action.
 
“God created us as the caretakers of the rest of creation, so it’s our duty to protect the environment and protect other species,” Katie said.
 
The Research on Adaptation to Climate Change program in which they are participating is funded by the National Science Foundation through The Vermont Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, a program designed to fulfill the foundation’s mandate to promote scientific progress nationwide and to get students involved in research.
 
Rice has participated in the program for eight of its nine years.
 
Sarah and Katie began the project in June. It entails collecting water samples from Potash Brook and Bartlett Brook in South Burlington and sending them to St. Michael’s College for analysis regarding levels of phosphorous, suspended sediments and nitrogen. This helps determine the health of Lake Champlain, into which both streams flow.
 
The teens also collected insects from the bottom of the streams, as they are indicators of the quality of the water.
 
“Both streams are urban-impacted so we expect to find bugs that are tolerant of pollution,” said Sharon Boardman, a Rice science teacher who is working with the students on the project.
 
A third component of the students’ project is an experiment: Sarah and Katie made leaf packs – one with faux foliage, one with maple leaves and one with witch hazel leaves – to collect bugs to see if they have feeding preferences. They were analyzing those packs in January in the school lab.
 
The two students are scheduled to make a presentation at a symposium with other Vermont Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research participants in March.
 
“My main motivation is to get kids involved in doing field research…like they would do in college studying biology or ecology,” Boardman said. “Also, this gives them a chance to do original research.”
 
Sarah is considering studying environmental science in college; Katie might pursue a degree in classics.
 
Sarah sees that the project she and Katie have undertaken is contributing to care of the Earth. “We are learning that when the environment is not good we can come up with ways to fix it” like ensuring there is no construction close to the edge of streams to prevent erosion and the addition of sediment to the stream, she said.
 
Both students studied Advance Placement Biology with Boardman as juniors and are enjoying the stream project, which is an independent project and garners them no school credit.
 
The project included a week-long training last summer at St. Michael’s College in Colchester.
 
“It’s important to think of the long-term health of the environment in Vermont,” Katie said. “Polluted streams will end up killing off wildlife.”
 
Boardman wants to instill in her students the attitude of caring for the Earth that Pope Francis espouses in “Laudato Si’,” his encyclical on the topic. “We’re called to be stewards of the Earth, and by studying ecology and understanding how ecosystems work, students become better stewards of their planet.”


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Originally published in the 2017 spring issue of Vermont Catholic Magazine.
 
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Good Shepherd basketball coach's success

Two hundred wins as The Good Shepherd Catholic School boys’ middle school basketball coach: It’s a milestone Daniel Hughes deserved to reach, said Dimitri Fischer, a seventh grader on his team. “He’s giving up his time to help the team,” he elaborated. “It shows Good Shepherd is a small school but we can win.”
 
And under the guidance of Hughes – in his 11th year coaching at the St. Johnsbury Catholic school team – Good Shepherd had logged 203 wins and only 62 losses as of Feb. 27.
 
The coach’s 200th win came Feb. 1 with a win over Concord School, 48-30.
 
Player Colby Garey-Wright had told the coach the night before the milestone game that it would be a special day: Colby’s birthday and the coach’s 200th win. The seventh grader celebrated his birthday sinking 25 points into the winning effort.
 
Before each game Hughes and his players pray the Hail Mary. “We pray…so nobody gets hurt and we play a good game,” Colby said. “It’s special. The whole team does it.”
 
There are 10 members of the seventh- and eighth-grade team this season; they play local middle school teams in the northern Vermont and New Hampshire area as well as St. Francis Xavier School in Winooski.
 
“Before every game we say the Hail Mary enthusiastically as a team,” Hughes said. “We pray to play the best we can. … I don’t think they’d feel comfortable taking the court without saying the Hail Mary first.”
 
Principal Lynn Cartularo called Hughes “a great example of faith.” The school has an all-female faculty and staff, so he is a good male role model. He shows his players the importance of prayer, and “they know God is their guide,” she said.
 
Hughes, a parishioner of Corpus Christi Parish who attends St. John the Evangelist Church in St. Johnsbury, served on the parish council there. He is president/owner of Celtic Marketing Food Brokers, located across the street from the church.
 
He and his wife, Mary, a teacher at Good Shepherd School and the boys’ basketball team scorebook keeper, have three children and one grandchild.
 
Hughes played basketball in junior and senior high school in Peru, N.Y., but at Siena College in Loudonville, N.Y., played rugby while earning a bachelor’s degree in business and marketing. He graduated in 1979.
 
When his son, Brendan, was a sixth grader at Good Shepherd Catholic School, he volunteered his father to help with the basketball team. Hughes laughed when he recalled that as the assistant coach, he and the head coach had one practice together with the team before the coach told Hughes he had to be away on business for six weeks. When he came back, the team had “become my team at that point,” Hughes said.
 
Through the years, he has had several assistant coaches, including Brendan when he was in high school.
 
Many of Hughes’ former players return to support the Good Shepherd team and their former coach. Current and past players signed his 200th-win basketball – about 30 signatures.
 
“I was only going to coach for a year,” Hughes said. “But I got attached to the kids. It’s very rewarding. They all come with different abilities. For some, this is the highlight of their basketball career in seventh and eighth grade. They don’t play in high school. For others, they’ve done very, very well in high school.”
 
Hughes began this season with 193 wins.  But it’s not about winning. “It has always been about the kids,” he said. “We talk a lot about being a team and not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less. They grasp that concept.”
 
Before each game he tells his players to play hard, play smart as a team and have fun. “You gotta have fun,” he said with a smile.
 
And he is clear about priorities: “The first priority is God,” he emphasized. Second is family, third is schoolwork and fourth is basketball. …Video games are not in the top four.”
 
Eighth grader Carter Gingue said not only has he learned about the game of basketball from Hughes but about teamwork and leadership.
 
“The word is out. Good Shepherd is a [basketball] force to be reckoned with,” Cartularo said. Hughes “is a local celebrity in the basketball world, and he’s a blessing for us.”
 
  • Published in Schools

Energy efficiency at Mount St. Joseph Academy

Mount St. Joseph Academy in Rutland is becoming more energy efficient, and that effort has gotten a boost from two bequests.
 
The bequests from alumni total more than $200,000.
 
“MSJ is looking to become more energy efficient. We have zeroed in on improving our heat efficiency by purchasing temperature controls, in particular for our gym,” explained Principal Sarah Fortier.
 
In addition, new doors for the gym that will not allow heat to escape will be purchased and heat loss because of large windows will be addressed.
 
The school will have an energy audit to help determine other areas of concern.
 
Mount St. Joseph Academy has been focused on energy efficiency for the past year.
 
“I am focused on preserving energy because how we treat our environment now will affect the children of the future,” said Fortier, who has been principal since 2014.
 
She mentioned a quote displayed in the school that states, "We did not inherit the Earth from our ancestors. We borrowed it from our children."
 
“I don't think a truer statement could be made. We need to make these changes so that the future is preserved environmentally for the generations to come,” she commented.
 
She said it is time for the school to make environmentally friendly changes. “There is no need to waste fuel for example. Fuel is a natural resource. As Catholics we believe in preserving the environment. Making changes to the building that will help do just that is not only providing a positive example to our students but it is also practicing our Catholic faith,” she said.
 
Through the energy-saving measures, the school has been “substantially cutting down on fuel costs,” Fortier said. “It is about more than saving money. It is about practicing our Catholic ideals. We are called to take care of the Earth. Making changes to the building that help us to do this shows that we care about the future.”
 
 
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A new chapter set to begin in life of former St. Joseph School in Burlington

The next chapter in the life of the former St. Joseph School is unfolding.
 
Champlain Housing Trust -- a non-profit organization that creates and preserves affordable housing -- plans to purchase the Allen Street building for $2 million and ensure its continued use for community programs.
 
The building was once a parochial school attached to St. Joseph Parish.
 
“In the six years that have elapsed since 2010 [when the school closed], the expenses have continued to climb, trying to maintain the old building in good condition, so the decision to offer it up for sale to the Champlain Housing Trust proved mutually agreeable and beneficial to both parties,” said Father Lance Harlow, rector of St. Joseph Co-Cathedral and Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception parishes. “The building will continue to serve families in the North End of the city which has always been its purpose.”
 
Since the school closed, the building has been used for various activities such as a children’s center, an association of Africans, a parent-child center, indoor events and a theater.
 
The parish has used the building for religious education classes and various church functions.
 
There was Catholic education in St. Joseph Parish even before the construction of the school. In 1863, the Daughters of the Heart of Mary (also known as the Ladies of Nazareth) arrived in Burlington and taught students in a woodshed until 1864 when they opened their school and convent on Gough Street, near North Prospect and Archibald Street.
 
In 1869, the sisters built another school, the first Nazareth School on Allen Street, for the younger children. They ran both schools until they merged in 1924 on Allen Street.
 
“The current building was enlarged in 1929 and was called the Ecole Nazareth, presumably in honor of the Ladies of Nazareth,” Father Harlow explained. “In 1961, the name was changed to St. Joseph School simply for administrative purposes.”
 
St. Joseph School operated under the supervision of the Ladies of Nazareth until 1943 then under the charge of the Daughters of the Holy Spirit until 1983.
 
“Decreasing enrollment over the course of several decades, decreased numbers of religious teaching sisters, higher salaries for lay employees and difficulties meeting expenses finally resulted in the closing of the school in 2010,” he continued.
 
 
While the building no longer functioned as a school since its closing, classroom space was leased to various non-profits.
 
“The parish is greatly indebted to the valiant religious sisters, brothers, priests and laity who devoted their lives to the education of the children in downtown Burlington,” Father Harlow said. “And while buildings come and go throughout the course of human history, the heroism of those who made history in those buildings remains to be told from one generation to the next.”
 
The Champlain Housing Trust is leasing the building until June at which point it must pay in full. “The impending sale of the school has brought financial relief for the co-cathedral and will enable it to direct its resources to other projects,” Father Harlow said.
 
  • Published in Parish

Teachers, catechists honored at Year of Mercy celebration

BURLINGTON—More than 100 teachers and catechists attended the Jubilee for Catechists and School Teachers at St. Joseph Co-Cathedral on Sept. 18 to honor, bless and celebrate Catholic educators and their selfless call to teach young people about the love and mercy of God.
 
“I have been very moved by this Year of Mercy in our diocese,” said Sister of Mercy Laura DellaSanta, principal of Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington. She appreciates how the people of the Diocese of Burlington come together for the special monthly events that recognize, affirm and pray for people involved in various ministries. “It unites us and strengthens us.”
 
Among those in attendance at the celebration for educators were Catholic school teachers and administrators, parish religious educators, directors of religious education, home schooling parents and students.
 
Following the celebration at the co-cathedral, attendees enjoyed refreshments and displays shared by various schools and parishes that represented aspects of their curriculum dedicated to passing on the Catholic faith.

For more information about the Jubilee for Catechists & School Teachers click here.
 
  • Published in Diocesan
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