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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

Catholic Faith Formation Day for educators

Catholic schools need to be joyful, innovative places to grow and thrive, the director and superintendent of Catholic schools for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles told nearly 235 Catholic school educators and administrators at the Catholic Faith Formation Day Oct. 16 at St. Michael’s College in Colchester.
 
“Innovation does not mean iPads is every kid’s hands. You can be very innovative without technology,” Dr. Kevin Baxter said, explaining innovation is celebrating successes and improving on past performances. “Avoid staleness. We want to be a continually growing organization. We must be continually growing individuals.”
 
More than maintenance is needed, said Baxter, who is responsible for coordinating and implementing the vision for growth for Catholic schools in the archdiocese with a student population of 80,000 from preschool through grade 12. “Change is a requirement for growth.”
 
Innovation can come in such areas as technology integration, curriculum innovation and governance innovation. He encouraged his listeners to be bold and creative and not to be satisfied with always doing things the way they’ve always been done.
 
“In order to be a great school, you have to face the brutal facts of your current reality,” he said. “This is the seed of innovation.”
 
Baxter, a part-time faculty member in the School of Education at Loyola Marymount University, encouraged the creation of a culture in which people can be heard, not worrying about what cannot be controlled (like the economy or the increase in charter schools) and not losing faith.
 
St. Michael School in Brattleboro is poised to meet the emerging needs of 21st-century education and extend its tradition of excellence through a set of innovative changes, noted Principal Elaine Beam. At the heart of its principal initiative will be a  curriculum of classical liberal arts. "The new high school program, emphasizing academic excellence, will feature a classical  curriculum, an integrated program of instruction and  the introduction of seminar-style instruction," she said.

St. Michael's already has added a high school program.

She concurred with Baxter's remark, “We want to be a continually growing organization.” At St. Michael School, she added, "observing the need for innovation, and acting boldly to realize it, incline the school to continual growth."

Basing much of his talk on Pope Francis’ 2013 apostolic exhortation “The Joy of the Gospel” (“Evangelii Gaudium”), Baxter said Catholic schools — like the Church — must operate with joy because “the real mark of a Christian is joy.”
 
Yet he acknowledged that people live and work with barriers to joy: defeatism, “sourpusses” who can sap energy, competition from a technological society, conflict.
 
Baxter encouraged constructively dealing directly with persons with whom there is conflict and forgiving. “Forgiveness is a grace for ourselves,” he added, because holding on to a wrong “burdens us.”
 
To live and work with true joy, he emphasized, “we must have constructive debate and disagree at times but always be able to forgive. … The idea of forgiveness is crucial.”
 
Baxter called upon the school personnel to uplift others and bring them joy.
 
Lisa Lorenz, superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Burlington, interim principal of Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington and principal of St. Therese Digital Academy, welcomed the educators to the conference, told participants at the conference they are called “to be madly in love with God.”
 
“When you are, people feel it,” she said.
 
Also presenting at the event was Ben Walther, a singer, songwriter and worship leader.
 
Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne celebrated Mass for the formation day participants in the Chapel of St. Michael the Archangel.
 
The daylong event, sponsored by the Diocese, was an opportunity for the educators to deepen and focus on their faith.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Published in Diocesan

'Mill Girls' historical performance

A 14-member student cast at St. Michael’s College started work on Labor Day, which felt appropriate, for a new original play with music about the lives of 19th-century girls who worked the mills of New England towns like Lowell, Mass., and Winooski.
 
That rehearsal launched preparations still under way for performances on Nov. 2, 3, 4, 10 and 11 at 7 p.m. in the McCarthy Arts Center Theater. All performances are free and open to the public.
 
Created and directed by St. Michael’s theater professor, Peter Harrigan, the show “Mill Girls” features an ambitious musical score by the well-established Burlington-area talent Tom Cleary, who long has been involved with St. Michael’s Playhouse productions and other local projects. Cleary will lead a small band for performances, including his wife, vocalist and teacher Amber DeLaurentis, St. Michael’s Fine Arts Professor Bill Ellis on guitar and Stan Baker on cello.
 
“Mill Girls” as a concept for this year’s history-charged and socially conscious “Mainstage” production at the college arose as Harrigan, now in his 27th year of teaching, looked for new ways both to challenge himself as a director and teacher and to model different artistic approaches for students, he said.
 
The resulting production has been a semester-long teaching tool across multiple disciplines on the Colchester campus. For example, at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 19, in the McCarthy Recital Hall will be an “Academic Panel” discussing the issues presented by the play; Harrigan tapped a History Department colleague’s earlier research and knowledge as he wrote the play; and the student cast will present an abridged version of the play for Winooski school children based on lesson plans from colleagues in the college’s Education Department.
 
Harrigan said that in creating “Mill Girls,” he took the approach of creating a “collage” from primary sources, as he had observed and admired in earlier productions that he directed, including  “The Laramie Project,” “Mad Forest” and “Execution of Justice.” In each case, the authors used non-theatrical materials – newspaper articles, court transcripts, interviews, journal entries, to name a few – to examine historical incidents and create a script for a play, he said.
 
“When I directed these plays, I found that undergraduate actors were able to make a deeper connection to the emotional lives of the characters and the troubling incidents depicted in the plays, because it all ‘actually happened.’ With a theatrical collage project in mind, I searched for a story from the past that would speak to student performers, and audience members, in the present,” Harrigan said.
 
The fabric of history
 
He didn’t have to look very far since the Champlain Mill and the other industrial structures from the 19th century are still part of the local architectural landscape. But the stories of the original uses of the buildings and the people who labored within them are perhaps less known, he said. “As I began research on the American Woolen Company, I talked to my colleague in the History Department, Professor Susan Ouellette, about resources,” Harrigan said, “and she unveiled a sort of hidden history – the stories of young women who worked in the mills of Winooski – and many other towns, most notably Lowell, Massachusetts: how they contributed to the world but also challenged it – advocating for themselves and others.”
 
He explained how in the early 19th century, as industrialization slowly took hold in America, manufacturers found there were not enough workers to fill their mills and factories. Francis Cabot Lowell of Massachusetts wanted to erase the horror stories associated with mills in England and establish wholesome settings where farmers would allow their daughters to work. He pictured new brick factories built along rivers – to harness the power of the water, surrounded by rooming houses, supervised by the strictest of matrons and widows alongside churches, libraries and lecture halls designed to fill the young women’s leisure hours with appropriate educational and spiritual pursuits. Lowell died prematurely, but a town named for him was built in 1826, giving thousands of young women a new option for advancement in life. “Mill Girls,” through a play with music, tells their stories, in their own words.
 
Lowell was a sort of utopia in its early years, Harrigan said, but as mill-barons’ thirst for profits began to outweigh their concern for the young women’s welfare, a shift occurred. Although they were used to working long hours – sometimes 13 or more per day – the mill girls operating one machine were asked to take on two or three, and later as many as five. This made the work conditions much more challenging and even dangerous. Industrialists later decreased wages and increased the rents in the required, company-owned housing. Using the knowledge they had acquired through classes and lectures and the community bond created in their boarding houses, the young women began to push back, forming some of the earliest labor organizations in the United States. As the movement for the abolition of slavery grew, the mill girls discovered their connection to this great American sin: These underpaid young women in the North were processing the cotton picked by enslaved Africans in the South. The female operatives of Lowell and other New England cities joined with John Greenleaf Whittier and other abolitionists to advocate for justice and freedom for all.
 
 
Through the Oct. 19 “Academic Panel,” Harrigan hopes to maximize the learning potential of this unique production. Professor Susan Ouellette will share some of her extensive research on 19th-century working women in Winooski, Lowell and elsewhere; Miriam Block, director of the Heritage Winooski Mill Museum (and also a student in the college’s Graduate Education program), will talk about the museum and its mission; Harrigan will describe his process of assembling and adapting the play from primary source material; and Professor John Devlin will lead a tour of the partially completed "Mill Girls" set that he designed and talk about how his research is reflected in his scenic design.
 
This event is also sponsored by the St. Michael’s College Humanities Center.
 
Another related event  “Mill Girls at the Mill,” will be Thursday, Nov. 9, when student performers will present an abridged version of the play at the historic Champlain Mill for students from the Winooski Middle and St. Francis Xavier schools. St. Michael’s education majors, led by Professors Valerie Bang-Jensen and Jonathan Silverman, will present lesson plans and activities to explain and enrich the experience.
 
  • 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

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

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.
 

Nonviolence workshop

Laurie Gagne would say that nonviolence is what the love of God looks like in action.
 
“Jesus calls us to stand in His place, to enter the relationship of love which He shares with the Father. The more deeply we enter this relationship, the more we experience the love of God as a passion, which propels us, as Pope Francis says, toward those who need our help,” she said. “Violence contradicts the love of God in us; therefore our actions on behalf of others must always be nonviolent. In individuals like Dorothy Day and Gandhi, we see how nonviolence can be a way of life as well as a real power for social change.”
 
Nonviolence is the “use of power in such a way that promotes the life and dignity of every human being and of all creation,” defined John F. Reuwer, an adjunct professor of nonviolent conflict resolution at St. Michael's College in Colchester. “This is contrasted with violence, which is the use of power as if someone and parts of creation are not worthy of life and dignity.”
 
The Catholic perspective on nonviolence has developed during the more than 2,000- year history of the Church.
 
“The early Church was completely pacifist,” said Gagne, former director of the Edmundite Center for Peace and Justice at St. Michael's College in Colchester and current adjunct professor of peace and justice there. “From gravestone inscriptions we know that until 170 A.D. there were no Christians who were soldiers because the early Church fathers believed that military service contradicted Jesus's command that we love our enemies.”
 
She and Reuwer are scheduled to co-facilitate a workshop, "Nonviolence: Power for Peace and Justice," on Oct. 21 at Holy Family Church in Essex Junction from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with registration, coffee and bagels at 8:30. 
 
St. Augustine introduced the Just War Theory in the fifth century, and for the next 1,500 years, the Church taught that fighting for a just cause, using limited means, in a war declared by a legitimate authority, was the duty of Christians.
 
“Since the papacy of John XXIII, however, we find one pope after another speaking against war,” Gagne continued. Pope “Paul VI famously went before the United Nations and declared, ‘No more war! War never again!’ At the same time, there has been a turn to nonviolence as a way of resolving conflicts.”
 
The 20th century was witness to a robust Catholic peace tradition lead by Dorothy Day, Gordon Zahn and Daniel and Philip Berrigan, among others. “But what was remarkable was the advocacy of nonviolence by the Magisterium,” Gagne said, pointing to Pope John Paul II’s encyclical “Centesimus Annus” and the American bishops’ two peace pastorals. “The World Day of Peace Statement issued by Pope Francis this past January is the strongest endorsement of nonviolence by the Church thus far and indicates that it has become mainstream in Church teaching.”
 
Yet as much as the Church is promoting nonviolence today, it hasn't completely rejected the Just War Theory, and it remains a good standard for evaluating wars that are occurring, Gagne noted. “Catholics should know that according to Just War criteria, there have been almost no just wars in the modern period; modern weapons, for one thing, make the Just War principles of discrimination and proportionality hard to meet.”
 
Thus Catholics, she said, should call for nonviolent means of solving the conflicts which lead to war and support nonviolent movements for social change. They can also support groups like Christian Peacemaker Teams and the Nonviolent Peace Force who stand alongside those trapped in conflict situations.
 
“The phenomenally destructive nature of modern war has caused many people to seek alternatives to this age-old method of conflict resolution,” Gagne said. “I find it exciting that the Catholic Church is taking part in this search. By adopting the principles of nonviolence, we can be true to our pacifist origins while remaining fully engaged with the world and its problems.”
 
According to Reuwer, nonviolence is “poorly understood in our culture” because it is depicted as weak in the face of powerful evil, while violence is depicted as the strong defender of the helpless and innocent.
 
“Belief in this contrast is a major reason why war and violence are so persistent and so few resources allotted to nonviolent means of dealing with evil,” he said.
 
The workshop he and Gagne will lead presents evidence that nonviolence is the stronger force for good. “If this is true, then we can easily embrace Pope Francis's call to embrace nonviolence. Think for a moment if we put the money, creativity, and human sacrifice that we put into war and its preparations into nonviolent conflict engagement. The results, I believe, would be astounding.”
 
The public is invited to attend the workshop, "Nonviolence, Power for Peace and Justice," on Oct. 21.
 
Topics to be covered include history of Church teaching on peace and war and current teaching on nonviolence; relating the concept of nonviolence to participants personal and communal spiritual growth; how the power of nonviolent action can forge a realistic path from the Sermon on the Mount, through the harsh realities of a violent world, to the reign of God among us; how to begin, on a personal and community level, to use nonviolent power to create the relationships and the world participants seek.
 
It was presented at St. Thomas Parish in Underhill Center in May, and parts of it have been presented dozens of times in the last 20 years at various churches, colleges and public forums.
 
“Nonviolence is based on love and has no inherent contradictions, while violence is almost always based on fear and always has contradictions and unintended consequences,” Reuwer said.
 
For more information on the workshop, which will cost $10, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
 
 
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