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St. John Bosco Conference for Catechists and Religious Educators

Twenty-three Vermonters representing 15 different parishes traveled by bus to participate in The St. John Bosco Conference for Catechists and Religious Educators that took place July 17-20 at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio.
 
“Working in ministry can be challenging on many levels. When times are challenging, we are called to hope and trust even more deeply,” commented Teresa Hawes, director of religious education at St. Monica Parish in Barre who coordinated the trip for the Vermont group. “This was a time of strong fellowship and renewal, with nourishment for the head, heart and soul. It was amazing to see how our group, many of whom did not know each other at the start, returned home strengthened and transformed.”
 
The conference theme was "Jesus, Our Hope."
 
“The conference left me with at least a dozen practical suggestions on how to improve catechesis in our parishes, which is exactly what you would expect from a conference for catechists and religious educators,” commented Michael J. Hagan, coordinator of religious education and catechesis for the Diocese of Burlington and a conference participant. “However, the conference also provided a deeply spiritual, retreat-like atmosphere – through daily Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, praise and worship music and many opportunities for private prayer – that brought me closer to Christ and left me with a sense of spiritual renewal.”
 
There were 520 conference participants, some from as far away as Nigeria and Australia.
 
Featured speakers were Bishop David L. Ricken of the Diocese of Green Bay, Wisc.; Jim Beckman, a scholar in residence and professor of leadership and evangelization for the Augustine Institute in Denver; Scott Hahn, author or editor of more than 40 books; and Amy Roberts, a member of the catechetics faculty of Franciscan University.
 
Among the Vermonters in attendance at the conference was Kelly Lagasse, director of religious education, catechist and marriage preparation coordinator for All Saints Church in Richford, St. Isidore Church in Montgomery Center and Our Lady of Lourdes Church in East Berkshire. “I was overwhelmed how the leaders on campus were so docile to the Holy Spirit, not holding back in sharing their knowledge, experiences and love with us,” she said. “Throughout the conference as information was taught, there were overwhelming themes and lessons of surrender, vulnerability, relationship, abiding in Him, encounter and communion in an incarnational ministry.”
 
She was reminded that her parish boundaries go beyond the four walls of a church to everyone in the towns and that parents are the first and foremost educators of their children. “I hope to bring this information back to our catechists and pray about how to refocus our education on not just the giving of information, but also the forming of disciples within and outside of our church walls,” she said. “One specific change I would like to make is to implement a family faith program for catechism that is more focused on accompanying our families in the education of their own children in their lifelong pilgrimage to Christ.”
 
This was the 21st year of the Bosco Conference, one of several adult conferences that are offered on the campus of Franciscan University of Steubenville each summer.
 
“Now it’s our job to take what we’ve learned and implement it in our various roles in Vermont,” Hagan said. “We were given handouts at most workshops, many of us took notes, and we were given the opportunity to network with others who could support our efforts. Coming back home to Vermont with these resources makes it possible for us to put our new knowledge into practice.”
 
The Vermont trip was funded in part by Our Sunday Visitor.
 
 
 

Totus Tuus 2017

Troy Norman, a seminarian for the Diocese of Burlington, is spending part of his summer break from his own studies -- teaching.
 
A team leader and teacher in the Totus Tuus program, he is, he said, “helping children give themselves to Jesus through Mary” and sharing his experience of the faith with them as a role model.
 
Two teams of two seminarians and two young women each are conducting five Totus Tuus programs for elementary and middle school students and a separate one for high schoolers.
 
In Bennington, 62 children participated along with about a dozen high schoolers.
 
Totus Tuus was St. John Paul II's apostolic motto. It is a Latin phrase meaning "totally yours" and expressed his personal consecration to Mary.
 
Totus Tuus is a Catholic youth program dedicated to sharing the Gospel and promoting the Catholic faith through catechesis, evangelization, Christian witness and Eucharistic worship. The goal of Totus Tuus is to help young people grow in their understanding of, and strengthen their faith in, Jesus Christ. The program strives to bring faith to life by creating a balance between knowledge of the meaning of the sacraments and an authentic sacramental life.
 
According to Holy Cross Father Robert Wiseman, administrator of Sacred Heart St. Francis de Sales Parish in Bennington and St. John the Baptist Parish in North Bennington, the program provides a consistency in vacation religious education throughout the statewide Diocese.
 
Though some parishes have their own Vacation Bible School programs, Totus Tuus offers the same program with a strong catechetical basis throughout the Diocese with trained staff members.
 
Vermont is the only site in New England where it is currently offered.
 
Father Dwight Baker, director of the Catholic Center at the University of Vermont in Burlington and chaplain for Totus Tuus, said the program is a “great blend of learning and fun.”
 
Classes are geared to each grade level, and each year the theme is different mysteries of the rosary; this year it is the Joyful Mysteries. Participants also learn about salvation history.
 
“The young people [on the team] are on fire for their faith, and the children see they are living an authentic life in their faith,” Father Baker said. “They are people [the children] look up to.”
 
Participants in the Bennington Totus Tuus – one of the largest in the Diocese – came from Bennington, North Bennington, Manchester and Arlington and from North Adams and Williamstown, Mass.
 
Jessica O’Connell, one of the coordinators, sent her son, Ambrose, 5, to Tutus Tuus at the Sacred Heart St. Francis de Sales Parish Center. “It’s an opportunity for him to be with a group of his peers and be exposed to the older leaders who are encouraging him in his faith,” she said.
 
The other coordinator, Tammy Buckley, said she hoped the Totus Tuus experience would have an effect on the wider community too, bringing persons to Jesus through the words and actions of the participants. “It’s really all about love,” she said.
 
Father Wiseman said Totus Tuus also is an opportunity for him to meet parents “and engage is some pastoral ministry.”
 
In addition, he said it is good for parishioners to see youth activities in the parish; he planned to show a video of Totus Tuus during upcoming weekend Masses.
 
Kayla E. King, 14, a volunteer helper from Sacred Heart St. Francis de Sales Parish, said she helped the children “stay focused” on their lessons and have fun. “It’s important so they can grow in their faith,” she said.
 
Totus Tuus is funded in part by The Bishop’s Annual Appeal/the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis.
 

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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