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The Edmundite Show

Father Lino Oropeza is a fan of technology. He worked in information technology in his native Venezuela before becoming a priest of the Society of St. Edmund, based at St. Michael’s College in Colchester, so it seems natural that he would come up with an idea to combine technology and education about the Catholic faith. “People are not coming to church, so this was an idea to bring the church to them,” he said. “The charism of the Society of St. Edmund is to evangelize people. Everything we do is geared toward that. This is one piece of that.”
 
“This” is The Edmundite Show, a weekly half-hour program on YouTube presented by Father Oropeza and fellow Edmundite, Father Michael Carter.
 
The show, produced in Father Oropeza’s office in Alliot Hall, is not scripted; the order’s two youngest priests just let the conversation develop.
 
Father Oropeza, 36, and Father Carter, 27, presented the first Edmundite Show for All Saints Day in November. Since then, topics have focused on vocations, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, St. Edmund, Thanksgiving and the Solemnity of Christ the King, Advent and the Immaculate Conception.
 
Because he already had the computer he uses for the show, all Father Oropeza needed were two microphones and a soundboard. His religious order invested less than $200 for the equipment.
 
Technology is his hobby, so the Mobilization of Volunteer Efforts international coordinator at St. Michael’s likes to keep up with the latest developments. YouTubers and their programming made him think of a program about the Catholic faith, so he asked Father Carter to work with him on the project and “talk about Church stuff.”
 
Through The Edmundite Show, they hope to educate about the faith, promote vocations and help viewers get to know the Society of St. Edmund, the 175-year-old religious order founded in France that began St. Michael’s College.
 
The program streams live at 4 p.m. on Wednesdays on the Society of St. Edmund’s YouTube channel. While it is live streaming, there is a chat feature so the priests can accept comments and questions; Father Oropeza monitors the chat on a computer during the recording of the program.
 
“It’s not a fully polished product yet,” Father Carter said of the show Dec. 6.
 
Though the show is not directed to any one demographic, Father Oropeza said students at the college are curious about religion and God, and when they have the opportunity to talk to him, they ask deep questions; “but at the same time, they are not coming to the sacraments.”
 
The idea of The Edmundite Show, then, is to catechize, which they do in a light-hearted way. “In a way, that’s the nature of the medium,” said the bearded Father Carter, an avid Facebook user. “We want to present energy that is fun and sometimes silly — that’s more me than Lino” who is clean-shaven.
 
Father Carter began one show wearing a light-up turkey headband.
 
Humor is a tool he uses when he teaches religion at the college or preaches at the three churches of the Essex Catholic Community that he serves as parochial vicar. “When you use the element of humor, it brings people’s guard down and you can segue into something more serious.”
 
The priests, both graduates of St. Michael’s College, seek to bring the depth of their beliefs out in a way that is understandable and appealing.
 
Father Oropeza had hoped for five viewers for the first show, so he was surprised to have 30. But that number has grown as high as 1,034 with people watching not only in the United States but in such other countries as Venezuela, Bolivia, Mexico, Spain and Sweden.
 
Father Carter, a graduate of Burlington High School, participated in that school’s theater program because he considers himself a shy person and thought it would help him with public speaking, which it did.
 
“I’m definitely not shy,” Father Oropeza interjected. “I’m introverted — though some people would not believe that of me. I have no fear standing in front of people and talking to people. But at the end of the day I need time to be by myself and regroup.”
 
Shy or not, it’s evident both priests enjoy The Edmundite Show.
 
Father Oropeza hopes more people will subscribe to the show (at 36 at the time of this report) and that there will be more interaction with viewers during live streaming. He’s also considering adding another live stream on a different day of the week to interview various guests.
 
The fruit of their efforts, Father Carter said, will be facilitating even one person having a more open perspective about the Catholic Church, the priesthood or vocations. “I’d be pleased with that … or to make one person more curious about the Church than they were before.”
 
Father Oropeza said he knows of one man who binge-watched The Edmundite Show and liked it because he learned about the Catholic faith.
 
“Now we need [the Edmundite Show] community to grow,” he said.
 
Watch the show and subscribe for free.
 
 
 
  • Published in Schools

Christmas shopping for little Catholics

Are you looking for the perfect gift for a young child in your family this year? Spread the Gospel and give them a gift they’ll love.

You may have heard it before, but it is worth repeating: If you have been baptized, it is your duty to spread the Gospel, and your family is a great place to begin. Your children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces and godchildren are all going to be expecting gifts this year, so let’s give them something that will make them smile and will feed their soul.

My Pick:

My first suggestion is a new book: "King of the Shattered Glass" by Susan Joy Bellavance. It’s a tale about a young kitchen maid and her courageous encounter with the King. The story is compelling, the pictures are beautiful, and the conversation created between parents and children is priceless. This book will lead children and their parents to consider God’s mercy in a whole new way. Don’t be surprised if you have tears in your eyes by the end. The author also has free-downloadable worksheets, coloring pages and discussion guides on her website – especially useful for a catechist who would like to use this book in the classroom.

Children’s Bible Story Book:

My second suggestion is to pick up a children’s book of Bible stories for your little one. I still have good memories of my own growing up. I remember how foolish that man was for building his whole house on sand – and how joyful the woman was when she found just one lost coin in her house. Growing up with these stories is a great way to be introduced to the Bible and makes for a great conversation starter between children and their parents. Ignatius Press offers "A Child's Treasury of Bible Stories."

For slightly older children, try "The Picture Bible" by Iva Hoth, which reads like a comic book. In the words of Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen: “This picture Bible for all ages is an excellent introduction to those who do not know the Bible and an excellent review for those who do.”

Bible Playsets:

Maybe the child you have in mind doesn’t want a book – you’re still in luck. Sometimes children need more than pages in their hands. Bring the stories of the Bible alive with the gift of a Bible story playset. Allow your children to set up their own Noah’s ark with the BibleToys Noah's Ark 18 Piece Playset or put the apostles on their boat with the Galilee Boat 15 Piece Playlet by BibleToys. If you’re handy, you can always make and paint your own wooden figurines.
 
All books and toys can be found on-line at Amazon* and other on-line retailers

*If you're shopping on Amazon, consider using AmazonSmile to donate a portion of your purchase price to Vermont Catholic Charities Inc. or another favorite charitable organization.


Michael Hagan is the coordinator of religious education and catechesis for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington.

 
  • Published in Diocesan

Coordinator of religious education and catechesis

Michael J. Hagan became coordinator of religious education and catechesis for the Diocese of Burlington in June, and he will be working to strengthen religious education within the Church by working with directors of religious education in Vermont parishes.
 
“Catechesis is important because our faith is not something that anyone can immediately -- or once-and-for-all – grasp,” he said. “Being a Christian is a lifelong process of unfolding the mystery of our faith, which is exactly what catechesis (the teaching of our faith) helps us to do. This journey is just as important, if not more so, for adults as it is for children.”
 
He plans to introduce more catechetical programs that include the whole family, both children and parents. “How that applies specifically, however, will depend on each parish and its particular strengths,” he said, adding that he will continue to offer catechists educational opportunities throughout Vermont.
 
One of his goals is to better understand how Vermont parishes function and then use that knowledge to be a strong support to assist and encourage them in their individual religious education goals. “The only way to truly achieve this is to pick up the phone, get in the car and build relationships with DREs around the state,” he said.
 
Hagan, 26, was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia. He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Grove City College and a master’s in theology from Villanova University.
 
He worked as a theology teacher and campus minister at a Catholic high school in Toledo, Ohio.
 
“In my experience as a high school teacher, I quickly discovered that books alone don't cut it. Outside of the classroom, students naturally consume information digitally, whether it be YouTube videos, online articles or apps on their phones,” he said. “Just as Jesus used familiar objects to make His parables relatable, we need to make technology a part of our religious education curriculum. This will help our students to be engaged in our material. Books are certainly important, but it is best to weave in the latest technology when possible.”
 
Hagan is married and now a resident of South Burlington and a parishioner at Christ the King/St. Anthony Parish in Burlington.
 

New director of worship to assist parishes with liturgical catechesis, formation

The Diocese of Burlington has hired a director of worship to assist parishes with liturgical catechesis and formation and to ensure Masses are celebrated with reverence, care and attention.
 
Joshua J. Perry also will coordinate the planning and celebration of diocesan liturgies such as the Rite of Election, Chrism Mass, priestly and diaconate ordinations and priest’s funerals and serve as a resource for confirmation celebrations.
 
Born and raised in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, he earned a bachelor’s degree in Catholic Studies from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., in 2003 and a master’s in Liturgical Studies from St. John’s University and School of Theology in Collegeville, Minn., in 2009.
 
He worked as the coordinator of liturgical celebrations at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis as well as director of worship for a 1,500-family suburban parish (St. Therese Parish in Deephaven, Minn.). Most recently, he was the liturgist at Villanova University.
 
“Effective liturgy engages us and invites us to full, active and conscious participation through ritual, posture, gesture, words, singing and silence,” he said. “It is full of signs and symbols; effective liturgy is the full use of those signs and symbols so that our senses are engaged – sight, smell, touch, taste, hearing – and not just our minds.”
 
Reporting directly to Phil Lawson, director of evangelization and catechesis for the Diocese of Burlington, Perry’s main area of responsibility is liturgical catechesis and formation, offering parishes throughout the diocese assistance in their own efforts in these areas, especially working with liturgical ministers -- lectors, altar servers, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, musicians and clergy.
 
“But the Church also recognizes the importance of the worshipping assembly – those who are ‘in the pews’ and called to fully, actively and consciously participate in their own way in the liturgy,” he said. “These catechetical efforts are for them as well so that they may more deeply engage in the liturgy. Because of the importance of liturgical catechesis and formation, this office is a part of the larger Office of Evangelization and Catechesis.”
 
Another of his responsibilities is to ensure that liturgies are celebrated with reverence, care and attention – “to let our liturgy be the best we can offer given our particular situations and resources,” he continued. “Diligent celebration allows us to better reflect on the power of liturgy, and this reflection, in turn, encourages us to more diligent celebration.”
 
Perry hopes to foster and encourage devotion to Our Lord in the Eucharist through Exposition and Adoration and to Our Lady.
 
Also, the way parishes celebrate other important moments in people’s lives is also important: baptisms, weddings and funerals. He hopes to encourage positive liturgical celebrations of those times too.
 
“Occasional Morning Prayer or Evening Prayer celebrated communally can be a wonderful addition to Lenten or Advent observances,” he said. “The Church has official blessings for any number of occasions -- there’s a big book of blessings aptly called ‘Book of Blessings,’ and I would like to encourage parishes break open that resource.”
 
Perry hopes in the coming months to provide regional workshops and evenings of reflection so that those involved in liturgy or those who simply want to go deeper in liturgy have time and space to reflect on their liturgical experience.
 
In his first year on the job, he hopes to visit all the parishes/worship sites for Sunday Mass and meet with people from different parts of the diocese to get their sense of the liturgy.
 
He lives in Fairfax with his 10-year-old Akita dog, Ada.
 
 
 
  • Published in Diocesan
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