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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.

Barre DRE says beatification of founder of Our Lady of Life Institute a 'joyful confirmation'

BARRE--For Teresa Hawes, the upcoming beatification of Venerable Father Marie-Eugene of the Child Jesus is an opportunity to spread his teachings about the importance of an intimate relationship with God and the role of the Blessed Mother.
“It’s a joyful confirmation that his teaching is a sure path to union with God,” she said.
Discalced Carmelite friar and founder of the secular institute Notre Dame de Vie in Venasque, France, he will be beatified Saturday, Nov. 19, during an international Mass celebrated by Cardinal Angelo Amato in the Parc des Expositions in Avignon, France.
Pope Benedict XVI declared Father Marie-Eugene of the Child Jesus venerable in 2011, and the upcoming beatification brings him one step closer to canonization.
Hawes, director of religious education at St. Monica Church in Barre, is one of 14 members of the institute attached to the house in St.-Paul-d'Abbotsford, Quebec. She is the only consecrated member of the institute in Vermont; there is one Vermont associate.
Notre Dame de Vie is an institute of the consecrated life for women, men, diocesan priests and incardinated priests.
Hawes met members of the institute in the mid 1970s while studying in France and participating in retreats with them. “I felt drawn to the contemplative prayer,” she said.
She took perpetual vows in 1986.
Consecrated men and women of the institute strive to be a humble sign of the Church’s presence in the midst of the world, evangelizing and serving the Church.
“Our charism is living Carmelite silent prayer in the world and teaching that prayer to others,” she explained. “We are hoping the beatification will make [Father Marie-Eugene of the Child Jesus] better known and encourage people to find out more” about his life and about the institute. “He believed all the baptized need to live out an intimate relationship with God is silent prayer…. Everything we need to be contemplative is in our baptismal grace.”
Father Marie-Eugene of the Child Jesus was born Henri Grialou in 1894 into a simple and deeply Catholic family in a mining village of southwest France. From early childhood he wanted to be a priest.
He completed his seminary studies after World War I and was ordained in 1922. He entered Carmel and took the name Father Marie-Eugene of the Child Jesus.
Called to share his charism with many, he founded the Institute of Notre Dame de Vie with Marie Pila in 1932 in Venasque, France.
He died in 1967 at Notre-Dame de Vie in Venasque.
The miracle connected to his beatification was the sudden and definitive cure of an infant in the 1980’s.
A former French and religion teacher at St. Francis Xavier School in Winooski, Hawes facilitates prayer groups, retreats and workshops on prayer.
She noted that Father Marie-Eugene of the Child Jesus was a humble and enlightening witness to the inner paths to God and attentive to the needs of the times and the Church. He said, “There are people seeking God everywhere. Ah! How I would like to go and speak to them all about God’s infinite love!”
The beatification, she said, “makes this even more possible.”
  • Published in Diocesan
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