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Celebrating Priesthood

As we celebrate the Jubilee for Priests and Seminarians this month as part of the diocese's year-long celebration of the Year of Mercy, I am reminded of my own priestly ordination that occurred 23 years ago on May 8, 1993. I was the first priest of this diocese to be ordained by His Excellency, Bishop Kenneth A. Angell. The ordination took place in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and I keep one special photo of the event in my living room. The photo captures the moment during the rite of ordination when the ordinand makes the promise of obedience to his bishop. It is one of two sacred promises. The other sacred promise is celibacy. During the rite of ordination, the bishop asks the ordinand: "Do you promise respect and obedience to me and to my successors?" To which the ordinand responds: "I do."

In the photo, I am kneeling before Bishop Angell with my hands held in his. On that day I did promise respect and obedience to him–and to his successors; that is, Bishop Matano and Bishop Coyne. I remember the moment clearly. I also remember it every year when the entire presbyterate assembles with the bishop at the annual Chrism Mass during Holy Week at which we renew our priestly promises.

That promise of obedience opens a door of special graces for the priest. As he physically places his hands into those of his bishop, he surrenders his priestly ministry to the bishop's discernment for the greater good of the diocese. While there is always place for discussion and collaboration with his bishop, ultimately the priest believes that through his promise of obedience, God will manifest his will through the bishop. That belief is not just an abstract theological notion; it is ratified through the lives of countless saints over the course of two thousand years. Not once has a priest-saint ever said, "Do your own thing" or "Your career comes first." But rather, every priest has sought grace through obedience–and it has always borne fruit in his ministry.

While most parishioners view their priest as belonging to "their parish," he really belongs to the entire diocese. (I am speaking here of diocesan priests. Priests belonging to a religious order fall into a broader category defined by the scope of their apostolate). A diocesan priest must live in that poverty of obedience by which he realizes that he belongs to no single parish, but rather that he belongs to all parishes. His pastorates are temporary depending upon the needs of the particular parish and those of the whole diocese. Jesus made that lifestyle clear in the Gospel in the following scene where, humanly speaking, He should have stayed in one town and made a very successful career for himself. But such was not God's will:

"Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed. Simon and those who were with him pursued him and on finding him said, 'Everyone is looking for you.' He told them, 'Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come. So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee' (Mk 1:35-38).

The Holy Spirit opens and closes doors throughout the priest's life leading him to "nearby villages"–even when things seem to be going well for him in a particular parish. The Holy Spirit knows the souls who will benefit from the priest's new ministry, and the priest desiring nothing more than to do God's will, goes where he is sent empowered by the graces brought about by his promise of obedience.

And so, on the day of his ordination, the young priest kneeling before his bishop enters into a new reality of grace. So young and without any priestly experience, he makes those sacred promises certain of the correctness of the Church's wisdom. And then years later, seasoned by age and experience, he not only remembers those sacred promises, but he has an even greater certainty of their correctness, fruitfulness and protection. Those two words, "I do," freely given on the day of his ordination, allow him to teach, to preach and to heal, not for his own personal success or comfort, but for the common good of all of you who constitute the people of God in Vermont. When you see the young ordinands on June 18 kneeling before Bishop Coyne and placing their hands into his, promising obedience to him and to his successors, remember that those sacred promises will open the doors of special graces for them to have very fruitful priestly ministries.

Father Lance W. Harlow, pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary in Williston and Our Lady of the Rosary in Richmond, is the diocesan chair of the Ad Hoc Committee for the Year of Faith. (See official on page 3.)

OFFICIALS

The Most Reverend Christopher J. Coyne, Bishop of Burlington, hereby makes the following appointments:

RECTOR

The Reverend Lance W. Harlow is appointed rector of The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph Co-Cathedral Parishes, Burlington, Vermont (effective July 6, 2016).

PASTOR

The Reverend Michael E. Augustinowitz is appointed pastor of Our Lady of the Snows Parish, Woodstock, and Our Lady of the Mountain Mission, Killington, Vermont (effective July 6, 2016).

The Reverend Justin J. Baker is hereby appointed as pastor of St. Michael Parish, Brattleboro, Vermont (effective August 1, 2016).

The Reverend Monsignor Bernard W. Bourgeois is hereby appointed as pastor of Christ the King Parish, Rutland, Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Rutland and St. Patrick Parish, Wallingford, Vermont (effective August 1, 2016).

The Reverend Charles R. Danielson is appointed pastor of St. Anthony Parish, White River Junction, and St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Windsor, Vermont (effective July 6, 2016).

The Reverend James C. Dodson is hereby appointed as pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish, Northfield, and St. Edward Parish, Williamstown, Vermont (effective August 1, 2016).

The Reverend Daniel J. Jordan is appointed pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Williston, and Holy Rosary Parish, Richmond, Vermont (effective July 6, 2016).

The Reverend Thomas L. Mosher is appointed pastor of Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish, Ludlow, and Holy Name of Mary Parish, Proctorsville, Vermont (effective July 6, 2016).

The Reverend Monsignor Peter A. Routhier, is appointed pastor of St. Augustine Parish, Montpelier, and North American Martyrs Parish, Marshfield, Vermont (effective July 6, 2016).

ADMINISTRATOR

The Reverend Romanus Igweonu is appointed administrator of St. Dominic Parish, Proctor, while remaining Administrator of St. Bridget Parish and St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish, West Rutland (effective July 6, 2016).

The Reverend Christopher Micale is appointed administrator of St. Thomas Parish, Underhill Center, and St. Mary of the Assumption Parish, Cambridge, Vermont (effective July 6, 2016).

The Reverend Lourduraja Simeone, H.G.N. is appointed administrator of St. Raphael Parish in Poultney and St. Anne Parish in Middletown Springs, Vermont (effective July 6, 2016).

PAROCHIAL VICAR

The Reverend Curtis A. Miller is appointed parochial vicar of Corpus Christi Parish, St. Johnsbury, Vermont (effective July 1, 2016).

The Reverend Matthew J. Rensch is appointed temporary parochial vicar of St. Monica Parish, Barre, Vermont (effective July 1, 2016).

The Reverend Hermogenes Sargado, S.D.V. is appointed Parochial Vicar of Our Lady of Seven Dolor Parish, Fair Haven, St. John the Baptist Parish, Castleton, St. Paul Parish, Orwell, and St. Frances Cabrini Mission, West Pawlet, Vermont (effective June 1, 2016).

JUDICIAL VICAR

The Reverend Luke P. Austin, J.D., J.C.L. is hereby appointed as Judicial Vicar of the Diocese of Burlington, while remaining pastor of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary – St. Louis Parish, Swanton, Vermont (effective July 6, 2016).

CHAPLAIN and DIRECTOR

The Reverend Dwight H. Baker is hereby appointed as chaplain and Director of The Catholic Center at the University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont (effective August 1, 2016).

IN-RESIDENCE

The Reverend Jon Schnobrich, director of vocations for the Diocese of Burlington, will take up residence at Christ the King Rectory, Burlington, Vermont (effective August 1, 2016).

FURTHER STUDIES

The Reverend Benedict Kiely is hereby granted a leave to pursue further studies (effective July 6, 2016).

Joan of Arc, FEAST DAY MAY 30

Both the world and the Church have changed so much in the past 600 hundred years that many parts of the story of Joan of Arc sound very foreign to us today. Yet, despite the obvious differences in culture, there are two things regarding this saint that remain constant–the first is her willingness to respond to God, and the second is her commitment to persevere in that response no matter what the cost.

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