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Society of St. Edmund's 175th anniversary

As the Society of St. Edmund celebrates the 175th anniversary of its founding in France, its members continue to serve God with zeal.
 
“That zeal was in our DNA right from the beginning,” said Father Stephen Hornat, superior general of the order based at St. Michael’s College in Colchester.  “Our founders were holy men with passion for the faith and the priesthood. … I see that same zeal playing out” in current Edmundite missions of education, social justice, spiritual renewal and pastoral ministry.
 
The Society of St. Edmund began in a rural region of France to revitalize the faith of people who had become increasingly alienated from the Catholic Church. The founder, Father Jean-Baptiste Muard, began the society at St. Mary’s Abbey in Pontigny, the final resting place of St. Edmund of Canterbury.
 
The arm of St. Edmund, once enshrined at St. Michael’s College then at Nativity of the Blessed Mary Church in Swanton (once staffed by the Edmundites), is now at the order’s Enders Island retreat center in Connecticut.
 
At the end of the 19th century as politics became increasingly hostile toward religious orders, the Society of St. Edmund decided to establish a new ministry in Canada, ministering to the French-speaking Catholics in Quebec.
 
Later asked to serve the French-speaking Catholics of northern Vermont, the Edmundites established several parishes and St. Michael’s College in Vermont.
 
The order also provided priests to minister in Venezuela for many years; the last Edmundite to serve there returned to the United States in July after 51 years.
 
The order currently has 25 members – priests and brothers -- most living in Vermont.
 
Edmundites serve in parish ministry in Selma, Ala., and in retreat house administration in Mystic, Conn. In Vermont they serve at St. Michael’s College – an educational institution the order founded – and in churches in Essex Junction, Essex Center, Putney, Townshend, Stratton, Hinesburg, Charlotte and Winooski. They also run St. Anne’s Shrine in Isle LaMotte.
 
Their ministries are diverse, but all seek to make God known and loved in deep and meaningful ways.
 
Looking to the future, Father Hornat noted that after the order’s foundation, members lived together at a monastery and went out to do their ministry, so he would like to return to the spirit of that foundation by strengthening community life. “Nicolle Hall [the order’s residence and headquarters at St. Michael’s College] is going to be the new Pontigny,” he said, where members will focus on community and prayer life and have an increased presence on campus. “When we can be strong as a religious community, we can make an impact in evangelization. We need to be that witness. We need to find our strength and our sustenance in community life and prayer.”
 
Zeal, he added, “is a contagious quality we have in the community.”
 
Among the future events to celebrate the 175 anniversary of the founding of the Society of St. Edmund is an St. Edmund’s Lecture and Reception Nov. 15 at St. Michael’s College; a Nov. 16 Mass at the college’s Chapel of St. Michael the Archangel; a heritage trip to France in May 2018; a July 3, 2018, Mass and picnic at Holy Family Church in Essex Junction marking the beginning of the Edmundite community; and the Aug. 15, 2018, closing of the anniversary year at the shrine.
 
For more information, call the Edmundite Generalate at 802-654-3400.
 
  • Published in Diocesan

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

Brother Carter to be ordained Edmundite priest

Edmundite Brother Michael R. Carter will be ordained to the priesthood on Saturday, Sept. 16, at the Chapel of St. Michael the Archangel on the campus of St. Michael’s College in Colchester.
 
Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne will ordain him during the 11 a.m. Mass.
 
Born in Burlington, the son of Richard M. Carter and Kathleen M. Carter of Burlington attended Christ the King School there 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.
 
His current assignment as a transitional deacon is as an assistant to his Edmundite brother, Father Charles Ranges, pastor in Essex Junction and Essex Center. Brother Carter also teaches at St. Michael's College and assists in Edmundite Campus Ministry. He will continue in these roles after his ordination.
 
“I would also ask any and every person that is concerned about the state of the Church to seriously think about the men in their lives that they think may have a vocation (or might make a good priest) and mention it to them,” he said. “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. Prayers are wonderful and beautiful, but prayer without action is robbing yourself of the most effective way that God works in the world.”
 
The Society of St. Edmund invites the faithful of the Diocese of Burlington and beyond to attend Brother Carter’s ordination.
 
The last ordination for the Society of St. Edmund was in 2014, when Father Lino Oropeza was ordained at St. Michael's College.

 
 
  • Published in Diocesan

Society of St. Edmund opens anniversary celebration

The Gospel story about the apostles in a boat on a stormy Sea of Galilee is essentially the story of a French religious order’s early decades after its founding 175 years ago – or, for that matter, of those founders’ spiritual heirs at a Vermont Catholic college in 2017, suggested the homilist for a historically significant Holy Day celebration at St. Anne’s Shrine in Isle LaMotte Aug. 15.
 
“Men of great faith invited by Jesus to come across turbulent waters” is how Edmundite Father Stephen Hornat, the Society of St. Edmund’s superior general, put it during the well-attended, late-morning Feast of the Assumption Mass at the shrine.
 
The liturgy officially began a year of events to note the 175th anniversary of the Edmundites’ 1843 founding at a humble and ruined former Cistercian Abbey in Pontigny, France, by Fathers Jean Baptiste Muard and Pierre Boyer, French diocesan priests who, as Fathr Hornat described, dedicated their lives to evangelism, the caretaking of holy shrines and, most significantly on this Marian Feast, to the intercessory protection and aid of Mary, the Mother of Jesus.
 
A parishioner at Winooski’s St. Stephen Church had asked him why not have the Mass at the Edmundite-founded St. Michael’s College rather than the Edmundite-administered shrine, Father Hornat said in his homily. “When I thought about it, the longest running ministry that Edmundites had during our 175-year history, wasn’t education, wasn’t retreat work, wasn’t administering parishes, but rather, caretakers of shrines (including Mont St. Michel in France and St. Anne’s in Vermont).”
 
Yet all those vital pieces of the Edmundites’ history and present mission were represented at the Mass. Most of the St. Michael’s College-based Edmundite community concelebrated, numbering a dozen or more priests and brothers, including those who administer nearby parishes. Present also were many current and former administrators of St. Michael’s College and other faculty, staff and alumni.
 
Father Hornat’s homily shed light on the order’s name and mission from its history: How St. Edmund is buried over the main altar at Pontigny Abbey where Fathers Muard and Boyer first gathered; that originally, the Edmundites were called the Oblates of the Sacred Heart; that Pontigny Abbey happened to be named in honor of St. Mary of the Assumption, “by coincidence or divine intervention,” making the day’s feast most significant to the group; or that the group didn’t become officially recognized as a Church religious order (rather than just a diocesan group) until 1876, and they didn’t become “Fathers of St. Edmund” until 1907.
 
Another guest for the day was a scholar of the history and legacy of St. Edmund who also is Anglican chaplain of St. Edmund Hall, Oxford – Rev. Will Donaldson, who at a reception and light lunch following Mass said he is traveling to sites related to the 12th/13th-century namesake of the place where he is chaplain.
 
As to his interest in Edmund given his present position, he said, “I was thinking I need to find out about him … and the more I look, the more I like it … I want to find out everything I can about him; so I’m over here in Vermont really to chat to people, meet the Edmundites, and particularly ask the question, ‘What is it about the life of St. Edmund that continues to inspire you today?’”
 
He said he and his wife are touring North America as part of research for what he expects to be about a 10,000-word short book on Edmund in three sections: first, a brief historical survey of Edmund’s life and ministry; second, a look at his character through the lens of the Beatitudes, “because I think he hits the Beatitudes on every point – the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the pure in heart, those who are persecuted, these kinds of things are his characteristics;” – and third, a look at how St. Edmund continues to influence Christian communities today, including in Vermont.
 
Other events relating to the Edmundite 175th anniversary in the coming year will include:
 
Nov. 15: St. Edmund’s Lecture and Reception at St. Michael's College.
Nov. 16: Mass at the Chapel of St. Michael the Archangel, St. Michael's College (Feast of St. Edmund).
May 13-21, 2018: Heritage Trip to France, led by Edmundite Father Marcel Rainville.
July 3, 2018: Celebration marking Fathers Muard and Bravard moving into the Cistercian Abbey in Pontigny. Mass and picnic at Holy Family Church, Essex Junction.
Aug. 15, 2018: Closing of the Anniversary Year; Mass and reception at St. Anne’s Shrine in Isle LaMotte.
 

Obituary: Edmundite Father Paul Pinard

Edmundite Father Paul Pinard, 85, died on June 12.
 
The son of Lucien and Bibianne (Blais) Pinard, he was born on Feb. 25, 1932, in Montpelier. He was a professed member of the Society of St. Edmund for 65 years and an Edmundite priest for more than 58 years.
 
Besides his brothers in religion, Father Pinard is survived by three brothers and a sister: Francis Pinard of Barre; Richard Pinard and his wife, Paula, of Winooski; Raymond Pinard and his wife, Vivian, of Galveston, Texas; and Marguerite Marie Worthing of Omaha, Neb.
 
Father Pinard was predeceased by his parents; his sister Jeanne d'Arc Verrett and her husband, Albert, of Plainville, Conn.; his sister, Madeleine Benoit, and her husband, Leonard, of Barre; his sister-in-law, Doreen Pinard; and brother-in-law, Daniel Worthing.
 
Father Pinard completed his undergraduate degree at St. Michael's College in Colchester in 1955 and, after completing his theological studies with the Society of St. Edmund, he was ordained a priest on May 22, 1959, by Burlington Bishop Robert F. Joyce. He continued his education at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., from 1959-1960 and at Fordham University in the Bronx, N.Y., from 1972-1973, graduating with a master’s degree in religious education.
 
Father Pinard served as assistant pastor at St. Elizabeth Mission in Selma, Ala., from 1960-1961, where he was also assistant director of the Don Bosco Boys Club. He served two parishes in Quebec: St. Anastase in Greenfield Park from 1961-1964 and Holy Cross in Rosemere from 1969-1972 and again from 1989-1991.
 
He worked as director of St. Anne's Shrine in Isle LaMotte, from 1964-1968 and as administrator of St. Amadeus Parish in Alburgh from 1967-1969. Father Pinard served on the Board of Trustees of St. Michael's College from 1984-1988 and was the procurator of the Edmundite Generalate in Burlington from 1991-1995. From 1995-2004, he acted as procurator and treasurer of St. Edmund's Retreat in Mystic, Conn.
 
He retired in 2004 to the Edmundite residence in Englewood, Fla., moving in 2013 to the Edmundite residence in Selma. He returned to Vermont in 2016, residing with the Edmundite community at St. Michael's College.
 
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at the Chapel of St. Michael the Archangel on the campus of St. Michael's College on Tuesday, June 20, at 10 a.m. Calling hours are from 8:30 to 10 a.m. at the chapel. Interment will take place at Merrill Cemetery, across the street from the college, immediately following the Mass. A reception will follow in the Edmundite dining room in Alliot Hall on the campus of St. Michael's College.  
 

Bishop to ordain 2 deacons

Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne will ordain one man to the permanent diaconate and one to the transitional diaconate at a special Mass Feb. 11 at 11 a.m. at St. Michael’s College in Colchester.
 
Phil Lawson, director of evangelization and catechesis for the Diocese of Burlington, will be ordained a permanent deacon, and Edmundite Brother Michael Carter will be ordained to the transitional diaconate. The latter works as an Edmundite Campus Minister and teaches in the Religious Studies Department at St. Michael’s College.
 
Brother Carter said he is excited that men are being ordained to the permanent diaconate in the Diocese of Burlington. “Revitalization of this ancient ministry can only be a positive thing for the Church,” he said.
 
The last ordination of permanent deacons here was several years ago.
 
Lawson trained in the Diocese of LaCrosse, Wis., and the Diocese of Green Bay, Wis.; he has been in formation -- both formal and informal -- for about six years.
 
He approaches his ordination with “a mixture of trepidation, wonder, excitement, amazement and peace.”
 
He will be assisting at his home parish, St. Luke in Fairfax and continue to help at the Joseph House ministry in Burlington.
 
Lawson said it will be a privilege to be ordained with Brother Carter and to share in such a joyous day for both the Edmundites and the Diocese of Burlington.
 
Brother Carter’s future assignments will be according to the will of the Edmundite community; after the ordination he will continue his work at the college, at least until the end of this semester. He is scheduled to be ordained a priest on Sept. 16 at St. Michael's College.
 
The faithful of the Diocese of Burlington are invited to the ordination Mass.
 
 
  • Published in Diocesan

Obituary: Edmundite Father Michael P. Cronogue

BURLINGTON—Edmundite Father Michael P. Cronogue, 68, died Oct. 13.
 
The son of George and Mary Cronogue, he was born on Nov. 8, 1947, in West Hartford, Conn. He was a professed member of the Society of St. Edmund for 43 years and an Edmundite priest for 39 years.
 
Father Cronogue received a bachelor of science degree in engineering from Northeastern University in 1970. He completed his master’s degree in theology at the University of St. Michael’s College in Toronto in 1976. In 2009 he was awarded a doctor of education from the University of Vermont.
 
Burlington Bishop John A. Marshall ordained Father Cronogue on May 7, 1977, at the Chapel of St. Michael the Archangel at St. Michael’s College in Colchester.
 
Following ordination to the priesthood, Father Cronogue served as parochial vicar at Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish in Selma, Ala., from 1977-80, and the next 30 years of his priesthood at St. Michael’s College as campus minister and director of the Center of Peace and Justice.
 
In 1990, he founded the Mobilization of Volunteer Efforts.
 
His commitment to the students at St. Michael’s College is acknowledged by numerous awards including the yearbook dedication from the Class of 2000; the Cesar Chavez Peace and Justice Award in recognition of his tireless championing of service, ethics and rights at St. Michael’s College; and most recently the Rev. Gerald Dupont Award presented by the Student Association of St. Michael’s College.
 
Father Cronogue served the Edmundite Community in several leadership positions from 1991-2014 as local superior of the Society of St. Edmund at St. Michael’s College, general councilor of the Edmundite Community and as superior general from 2006-2014. He also served as director of formation and vocation director of the Edmundite Community and as a member of the St. Michael’s College Board of Trustees.
 
Along with his Edmundite community, Father Cronogue is survived by his brother, Mark, of New York City; and his brother, Ronald, of North Carolina and his wife, Tina and sons, Graham and Ian from Washington, D.C.
 
Viewing will be on Thursday, Oct. 20, from 10 a.m.-12:45 p.m. in the Chapel of St. Michael the Archangel at St. Michael’s College followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 1 p.m.
 
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to M.O.V.E. at St. Michael’s College, P.O. Box 256, 1 Winooski Park, Colchester, VT 05439.


--------------------
Read about Fr. Cronogue’s service at the Burlington Ronald McDonald House in "Serving Up Mercy" from the August 2016 issue of Vermont Catholic Magazine

 
  • Published in Diocesan

Religious congregations address changing needs of those they serve

Education. Healthcare. Childcare.

Members of some religious congregations came to the Diocese of Burlington in the 19th century to tend to the needs of the times.

Prison ministry. Parish work. Care of the Earth. Spiritual direction.

These are some of the areas in which, having discerned the changing needs of Vermont Catholics and non-Catholics alike, religious sisters and brothers and members of secular institutes are ministering today in the Green Mountain State.

And they too are experiencing changes – decreasing membership, property sales, new living situations and mergers, to name a few.

"All religious congregations are engaged in some form or another" in the challenges of adapting to the needs of the times, said Sister Irene Duchesneau, a Religious Hospitaller of St. Joseph. "Partnerships, collaborative endeavors and especially an active foundation are what we see going forward in our diocese. These realities are not losses but a compelling call to pursue our mission and heritage with the gifts of a committed laity."

Those who live a consecrated life – members of religious orders and secular institutes – do God's work and help to build the Kingdom of God in Vermont, working in collaboration with the priests, parishioners and other people of the diocese.

Though membership in religious orders has dwindled in Vermont, their presence is no less valuable and important to the people to whom they minister. Some communities – like the Society of St. Edmund – continue to be about the Lord's work with fewer members. But some once-Vermont-based orders – like the Sisters of Mercy and Sisters of St. Joseph – have joined together with sister communities.

The Sisters of St. Joseph that were once part of the Rutland-based congregation, now number only 15 within the larger Springfield, Mass.-based order.

Other congregations are represented in the state by one or two members, some are new to the diocese, and others have left Vermont. Some have invited laypersons to join them in mission as associates and agrégées.

But the impact of those living consecrated life continues to be felt throughout the statewide diocese from Isle LaMotte to Bennington, Derby Line to Brattleboro and Rutland to White River Junction.

Those that remain in the Diocese of Burlington minister in meaningful ways whether "actively" involved in parish, school or civic community life or retired and engaged in a ministry of prayer.

In many cases, those in consecrated life pass on their congregation's charisms through their ministries. For example, the Sisters of Mercy – now part of The Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas – ensure board members of their ministries and partners in ministry understand and carry on the spirit of the community. The Sisters of St. Joseph – once heavily engaged in education – help school staff members to understand their ministry to youth.

At one time members of religious communities focused on the ministries of their own community; there is more and more collaboration among them now.

For example, members of women's religious communities have assisted the Edmundite Fathers and Brothers in their Southern Missions. That cooperation has been "essential," said Edmundite Brother Thomas Berube.

Some, like the Sisters of Providence in Winooski, have opened their convent to members of other orders. Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph and Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa live at the convent, creating a multi-order community there.

"It helps each community to live to their utmost," said Sister of Providence Carmen Proulx.

Brother Berube acknowledges that the Church is not as dependent on members of consecrated life as it once was because non-members have joined their ministerial efforts. "It has to be the baptized that are going to move the Church forward," he said. "Religious communities can be there to support and help and educate them to do that … . This is the age of the laity, and I think that is wonderful … . We're all in this … together with our gifts and our blessings and our drawbacks."

In many ways, religious congregations have been the first to address needs and then move into other areas once non-members can take over. That's what the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa have done in Africa, said Sister Arlene Gates: "We are the initiators, and we know the lasting work has to be done by Africans."

Even as they plan for the continuation of their ministries, members of consecrated life are – as they have done historically – looking at needs and seeking ways to address them. These areas include helping persons who suffer from drug addition, women who have been trafficked and new immigrants.

Sister of Mercy Jeannine Mercure emphasized the need to "make systemic changes in society," while noting that the sisters' work in education continues "but in a completely different way."

Through the order's Mercy Connections, immigrants receive tutoring and help in gaining citizenship, women are assisted in establishing small businesses and women who were incarcerated are helped to be reintegrated with family and society.

The sisters' mission at Mercy Farm in Benson includes helping people learn about gardening and sustainable use of the land and offering "women deprived of quiet" an opportunity to be connected to creation.

Care of the environment is a "critical concern" for the Sisters of Mercy, Sister Mercure said, as well as for other congregations.

In addition, the Society of St. Edmund continues its long history of ecumenical and interfaith endeavors and embraces the immigrant population with "charity and acceptance," Brother Berube said.

Through it all, the Eucharist is central, said Sister of St. Joseph Mary Harvey: "Daily Mass is integral to our lives."

And so is prayer.

But not only are members of consecrated life engaged in praying for others, they often offer opportunities to others for prayer. Silent prayer, prayer groups and retreats are part of Our Lady of Life, a secular institute to which Teresa Hawes belongs. "We are on that journey (to sainthood) together," she said.

"If we don't have a foundation in prayer – a real awareness of the presence of the Holy Spirit in everything we do – there is a danger for us becoming just social workers," Brother Berube said, emphasizing the importance of all social workers.

The diocese has, over the years, welcomed contemplative and cloistered religious orders as well as those involved in ministries like education and healthcare.

"While our monastic community is not an apostolic community with a direct ministry outside the monastery, from our monastic life we offer hospitality to many people who are searching for God and life in the Church and the world today," noted Benedictine Brother Richard Iaquinto, prior of Weston Priory. "We offer a haven of prayer and support to those religious and lay persons who are working formally or informally in ministry and the apostolates here in Vermont and beyond."

Benedictine Sister Laurence A.M. Couture, prioress of Monastery of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Westfield, quoted the testimony of the abbesses and prioresses of the Benedictine Congregation of Solesmes on papal enclosure. In part: "At first sight, one could believe that the enclosure of the nuns does not allow them to reach the 'existential and geographical peripheries' (Evangelii Gaudium, n. 20) to which Pope Francis is sending forth all the Church in mission following Jesus. In reality the nun sees in it one of the most incisive and efficacious means to reach the most inaccessible peripheries, those where no one can penetrate: the heart of man often shut up in sin."

During the Year of Mercy, members of consecrated life pondered just what mercy means to them.

"Mercy is incarnating in action charity," Brother Berube said.

"It is living out the tenderness and justice of love, of Jesus," commented Sister Yvette Rainville, a Daughter of the Holy Spirit.

Sister of Notre Dame Karen Pozniak said mercy is a "sense of being there for others, having a compassionate heart that is willing to help others."

Those living consecrated have been and still are doing just that.
 
  • Published in Diocesan
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