Log in
    

The bishops of Burlington

Each of the 10 bishops of the Diocese of Burlington has brought unique gifts to his episcopate. Here is a look at each.
 
1. Bishop deGoesbriand, the “founding bishop”
Bishop Louis deGoesbriand was the first bishop of the Diocese of Burlington, which was founded in 1853. When he died in 1899, he left behind a Church that had grown both in number of Catholics number of churches and Catholic schools; by 1891 there were eight academies and 16 parochial schools in the Diocese with seven congregations of women religious to staff them. Five priests had awaited his arrival, and the number of Vermont priests grew to 52 in 1892 thanks to his efforts to foster vocations in Vermont and recruit priests from France, Canada and Ireland. The number of churches increased from 10 to 78 during his episcopacy, and the number of Catholics grew from less than 20,000 to more than 46,000 – most Irish or French-speaking Canadians. “There is no nook, no corner, no hamlet, no village, no town, no city of this Diocese which has not been repeatedly blessed by his presence and his labors,” said a bishop during Bishop DeGoesbriand’s funeral.
 
2. Bishop John S. Michaud, the “builder bishop”
The first native-born priest ordained for the Diocese of Burlington, Bishop John S. Michaud, began his building initiatives in Newport, his first assignment after his 1873 ordination to the priesthood. St. Mary Star of the Sea Church was the first of many construction projects he would oversee in his life. In 1879 Bishop deGoesbriand summoned him back to Burlington to oversee the building of St. Joseph’s Providence Orphan Asylum. Later, he oversaw the building of St. Francis de Sales Church in Bennington before being named coadjutor bishop of the Diocese. His building efforts continued with Fanny Allen Hospital in Colchester and a hospital in St. Johnsbury. It was Bishop Michaud who advocated a bill passed by the Vermont Legislature to make the Diocese of Burlington a legal corporation. By the end of his tenure, there were 100 churches and missions serving 75,000 Catholics.
 
3. Bishop Joseph J. Rice, the “education bishop”
Through the turbulent years that included World War I, a Spanish influenza epidemic, anti Catholicism and The Great Depression, the third bishop of Burlington, Bishop Joseph J. Rice, oversaw the expansion of Catholic education as well as the opening of the deGoesbriand Hospital in Burlington, increased social services and the building of new churches in rural areas of the statewide Diocese. Several Catholic high schools opened during his episcopacy including Cathedral High School in Burlington. In 1925 the Sisters of Mercy opened Trinity College in Burlington. And during the war, the bishop educated his flock about the need for peace. “We are now face to face with the stern realities of war,” he said in a pastoral letter. “Let us now implore the God of mercy and goodness that the scourge of way may cease and that its dreadful but salutary lessons may teach mankind.”
 
4. Bishop Matthew F. Brady, the “short-term bishop”
The fourth bishop of Burlington was the first to be transferred out of the Diocese. Before Bishop Matthew F. Brady became bishop of the neighboring Diocese of Manchester, N.H., he used his six years in Vermont to reorganize Vermont Catholic Charities, organized a Diocesan Schools Office and organized the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine. He had been a Navy chaplain during World War I, and after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941, he offered his prayers and support for the “boys” overseas fighting World War II. He lent his support to the labor union movement. “Let it be clearly understood that the position of the Catholic Church…is unquestionably and unalterably on the side of the laboring man until such time as he does injustice to employers,” he once wrote. He died in Vermont during a congress of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine as the bishop of Manchester in 1959.
 
5. Bishop Edward F. Ryan, “champion of rural churches”
Among the accomplishments of the fifth bishop of Burlington, Bishop Edward F. Ryan, were the reorganizing of societies, establishment of a Vermont edition of the Our Sunday Visitor national Catholic newspaper, encouragement of the development of Catholic youth organizations, bringing religious congregations to Vermont and building more rural churches. A champion of the rural Church, he convened at Camp Holy Cross in Colchester the first Catholic Rural Life Institute in the eastern United States. “The future of the Church in Vermont, as well as in other states, lies not in the urban population but in the rural areas,” he said. At the time, the Diocese invested $300,000 in 14 mission churches and chapels in Vermont. In less than eight years he oversaw the building of 23 churches in rural areas. He also invited religious orders and priests from his native Massachusetts to Vermont to help staff rural parishes.
 
6. Bishop Robert F. Joyce, “Vatican II bishop”
Proctor native and sixth bishop of Burlington Bishop Robert F. Joyce participated in the Second Vatican Council -- convened by Pope John XXIII in 1962 -- and presided over the changes in the Church that resulted from it. Bishop Joyce attended every session of the council. Through his correspondence with his chancellor, Msgr. Louis Gelineau, he kept abreast of what was happening at home and continued to issue orders about the running of the diocese. When the council ended in 1965, he began implementing changes like the celebration of Mass in the vernacular. He celebrated the first television Mass, and Vermont became the third Diocese in the country to give the green light for the celebration of Saturday Vigil Masses. An advocate of interfaith dialogue, Bishop Joyce promoted the reception of the Diocese as an affiliate member of the Vermont Ecumenical Council and Bible Society. “All of the things which the Vatican Council recommended I have tried to establish,” he said. “I call myself a liberal in that measure. I am, however, strongly against changing anything the Church does not recommend.” During his tenure, Bishop Joyce also faced issues relating to the Vietnam War, declining enrollment in parish schools and legalized abortion.
 
7. Bishop John A. Marshall, “the quintessential teacher-bishop”
When Bishop John A. Marshall – once a Catholic high school headmaster in his native Massachusetts --  became seventh bishop of Burlington in 1972, the Church was still feeling the effects of the Second Vatican Council, and it was up to him to see that directives from Rome were implemented and Catholic lay roles and ministries were clarified. In addition, he addressed cultural changes that affected the Church and the Green Mountain State. He taught and spoke out repeatedly and vehemently against abortion, he opposed the Equal Rights Amendment, he championed traditional family values, and he endorsed ecumenical efforts. Other topics he addressed included capital punishment, sexuality, homosexuality, gay rights legislation and the availability of condoms to inmates in Vermont correctional centers. Vermont Catholics were concerned about a myriad of justice issues during the Marshall years: poverty, hunger, homelessness, refugee resettlement, the nuclear arms race and U.S. policy in Central American to name a few. “Only … trust that God loves us can cast out fear and make us strong enough to set aside defensiveness in order to work for peace, to set aside self interest to work for justice, to set aside anger to work for mercy,” he once said. Austere by nature, he taught simplicity of life by his example. He oversaw the sale of the grand brick bishop’s residence, and he moved his quarters to a small, simple apartment in the remodeled Bishop Brady Center, the diocesan headquarters located in a former orphanage in Burlington.
 
8. Bishop Kenneth A. Angell, the “respect life bishop”
Perhaps nothing defines Bishop Kenneth A. Angell’s respect-life attitude as well as his forgiveness of the terrorists whose actions on Sept. 11, 2001, took the lives of his brother and sister-on-law. He celebrated a Mass the next day for all the victims and said he forgave the perpetrators because as a Christian he was told to forgive so he did. Though not unique in his respect-life stand, the eighth bishop of Burlington was often called upon to speak up for the vulnerable. He stood firmly against mandated abortion coverage in health care, began a Diocesan respect life phone tree to procure lobbying of state and national leaders and dedicated himself to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ efforts to “Confront a Culture of Violence.” At his request, the Vermont Knights of Columbus circulated a petition to aid the U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines. He opposed the death penalty and launched a fax campaign to protest the execution of a Vermont native on death row. Another concern he faced was the growing shortage of priests in Vermont; he was instrumental in establishing a House of (vocation) Discernment at the Catholic Center at the University of Vermont and stressed the role of the laity in the life of the Church. In 1996 he oversaw the establishment of a Diocesan Sexual Misconduct Policy, and he dealt with the clergy abuse scandal.
 
9. Bishop Salvatore R. Matano, “bishop of authenticity”
The ninth bishop of Burlington, Bishop Salvatore R. Matano, faced unprecedented challenges as he dealt with the fallout of the priest sex abuse scandal, declining Mass attendance, fewer children in Catholic schools and an ever-increasing clergy shortage. But as he dealt with these issues, he remained steadfast in his devotion to authentic Church teaching. A strong and effective communicator, his priorities were to foster increased participation in the sacraments -- especially the Eucharist -- and to firmly uphold the teachings of the Church. He promulgated Guidelines for the Administration of the Sacraments in the Diocese of Burlington to guide both clergy and laity in the necessary preparations for and proper reception of the seven sacraments and oversaw the implementation of initiatives from Rome such as the Year of Faith and the implementation of a new translation of the Roman Missal. He invited outside priests to serve the Church in Vermont, advocated for the right to life of all persons and worked to uphold the dignity of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. He oversaw programs to protect children and vulnerable adults and the closing and merger of parishes as well as the settlement of lawsuits dealing with allegations of clergy sexual abuse.
 
10. Bishop Christopher J. Coyne, “the blogging bishop”
A former auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, Bishop Christopher J. Coyne already had become known as “the blogging bishop” when he arrived as the 10th bishop of Burlington. Adept at using all forms of social media to educate, inform and inspire, he has strengthened the communications efforts of the Diocese while also increasing staff to work in the areas of evangelization, catechesis, worship and youth and young adult ministry. He instituted the Diocese’s Year of Creation, an intentional, heightened focus on ecological justice featuring various events, initiatives and resources to better educate Vermont Catholics and others and encourage the embracing of Pope Francis’ message in his 2015 encyclical, “Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home.” Bishop Coyne has convened the first Diocesan synod since the 1960s to establish a pastoral plan for the immediate future of the Catholic Church in Vermont and to establish particular laws and policies to do so. Only two and half years into his leadership role, Bishop Coyne is laying the foundation for a stronger, more engaged Church in Vermont.
 
--Originally published in the Fall 2017 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.
 
  • Published in Diocesan

Promoting parish vocation ministry

Rhonda Gruenewald, a vocation promoter and author of “Hundredfold: A Guide to Parish Vocation Ministry,” will be in Vermont to present a day-long workshop open to all who want to share in this mission to promote vocations in their parishes, but specifically aimed at directors of religious education, catechists and parents. 
 
The workshop will take place at St. Anthony Parish Hall in White River Junction on Saturday, Nov. 4, from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with the option of attending the vigil Mass at 4. 
 
“Following the lead of our local shepherd, Bishop [Christopher] Coyne, and in union with the universal shepherd, Pope Francis -- who called for a Synod this fall to focus on ‘Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment’ -- the Vocation Office is seeking to more intentionally engage young people in Vermont,” explained Father Jon Schnobrich, vocations director for the Diocese of Burlington.
 
Gruenewald, of Houston, also will speak to the priests of the Diocese of Burlington at the annual priest gathering in September. 
 
“Her book proposes a way to build a culture of vocations in a Diocese, beginning at the parish level,” Father Schnobrich said. “Because of the increasing demands on priests, Rhonda's vision seeks to engage the laity in the mission of promoting vocations in a way that relieves a pastor/priest from the tasks of organizing, planning and administrating different vocation events and activities in the parish.”
 
The aim of her book is to inspire laypersons beginning or reviving a vocation ministry or committee and provide tested activities to bring about a culture of vocations in their parish.
 
To find out more about this ministry, go to vocationministry.com.
 
There is no cost to attend the White River Junction workshop, but those who want to attend are asked to RSVP by Oct. 28 to Mallorie Gerwitz in the Vocation Office (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 802-658-6110 ext. 1334).
 
  • Published in Diocesan

Masses for peace, justice in wake of Las Vegas shootings

In the wake of the largest mass shooting in modern American history, Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne has asked Vermont priests to celebrate Masses on the weekend of Oct. 7 “for the preservation of peace and justice.”   
 
On the night of Oct. 1, from a 32nd-floor Las Vegas casino hotel room, Stephen Paddock shot on and off for about 10 minutes at 22,000 concertgoers below at a country music festival; more than 50 died and more than 500 were wounded.
 
Among those killed was Sandy Casey, a graduate of the College of St. Joseph in Rutland.
 
Paddock’s motive is still unknown; authorities believe he killed himself before they arrived at his hotel room.
 
“In light of the terrible tragedy in Las Vegas, I ask that the ‘Mass for the Preservation of Peace and Justice’ (in the Roman Missal) be celebrated at Sunday Mass this weekend,” Bishop Coyne said in an Oct. 3 email notice to all pastors and administrators.
 
While the priests could compose their own Prayers of the Faithful, the bishop suggested these two intercessions:
 
+ “Let us pray for the victims of the mass shooting in Las Vegas. Grant eternal rest to those who have died, healing to those who were wounded and comfort and peace to all their families and friends.”
 
+ “Let us pray for our country, that we may seek to live in peace and harmony with each other in thought, word and deed.”
 

 
 
 

Action for Ecological Justice conference

A former president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States, brought a message of hope to the Diocese of Burlington, telling more than 200 people at a conference on ecological justice that though “we are in the midst of a crisis,” it is important to focus on what can be done to take better care of the Earth.
 
“Our actions do matter, and there are things we can do to make a difference,” said Dr. Carolyn Woo, the keynote speaker at Action for Ecological Justice: Celebrating a Year of Creation, Sept. 30 at St. Michael’s College in Colchester. The Year of Creation is a yearlong, statewide, intentional focus on embracing the message of Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical letter, “Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home.”
 
“Hope is where you believe that action can make a difference,” Woo said.
 
The Catholic Church in Vermont presented the conference, the signature event of the Year of Creation called for by Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne.
 
Among the responses to climate change, which disproportionately affects the world’s poor, Woo suggested responses such as land and crop adaptations, watershed management, alternative farming techniques, alternative crops, water service and community capacity building.
 
She also suggested socially responsible investing with companies that have good ratings for healthy living, clean water, renewable energy, zero waste and disease eradication. “You don’t have to sacrifice [financial] returns,” she added.
 
Woo said there is momentum in the area of clean energy, noting that 21 states score in the top 10 in at least three of the 12 Union of Concerned Scientists metrics that include energy savings, power plant pollution reduction, clean energy jobs and electric vehicle adoption.
 
Vermont is number two in that overall scoring, second only to California.
 
Woo encouraged the creation of “green jobs” in areas such as wind and solar power and sustainable issues, and she asked her listeners to encourage young people to pursue careers in this industry.
 
To reduce carbon emissions in the environment, she suggested the use of wind turbines, plant-rich diets, solar farms, natural family planning, reduced food waste and refrigerant management.
 
Care of the Earth, she emphasized, “transcends politics.”
 
"The state of creation affects everyone. We must work together to create a more sustainable future for all," said Stephanie Clary, manager of mission outreach and communication for the Diocese of Burlington and coordinator of the conference.

Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne opened the conference with a moment of silence for victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. 
 
The daylong conference included various workshops including one titled, “Engaging the Parish: How Do I Invite Others to Join Me,” facilitated by Chris West who directs the Partnership, Training and Engagement Unit of Catholic Relief Services and David Mullin, executive director of Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity in Northwestern Vermont.
 
They emphasized the importance of using inviting language when encouraging others to join in parish ministries, rather than telling people they “should” get involved.
 
Identify, invite, and encourage -- three steps West said bring more people into ministries.
 
Mullin said that if people are “interested in moving a cause forward, expose your passion for it” to attract others to it.
 
In his breakout session, “Can Economics Save the World?” St. Michael’s College Associate Professor of Economics Patrick Walsh asked participants, “Why are we hurting the environment?”
 
Answers included: to accommodate a growing population, because people are disconnected from nature, market forces, cultural and lifestyle expectations, ignorance and greed.
 
A way to explain people’s behavior is to know what incentives they face, he explained.
 
For example, shoppers might shy away from one item that is too expensive, considering “the price told me not to” buy it. But they might purchase a sale item because “the price made me do it.”
 
Incentives for reducing carbon emissions include carbon taxes and limited government permits for carbon emitters. “If it’s costly to ‘go green,’ it’s going to be an uphill struggle,” Walsh said.

Allison Croce, a sophomore at St. Michael's College from Abingdon, Md., said her Catholic faith and her passion for the environment were the reasons she attended the daylong conference. "We all share the Earth, so we should all conserve [resources] and promote justice for all," said the environmental studies major.
 
Musician and songwriter Bob Hurd concluded the day with a variety of songs related to justice, caring for the Earth, the sanctity of life and peace, some based on “Laudato Si’.”
 
He connected Jesus’ living, dying and rising to healing and the glorification of all creation. “Every celebration of the Eucharist acknowledges creation,” he said.
 
Carolyn Meub, executive director of the Rutland-based Pure Water for the World, said attending the conference “really motivated me to look at my own actions because I believe my actions are making a moral statement” – like composting and doing business with ethical companies.
 
Rose-Marie Santarcangelo of Sacred Heart St. Francis de Sales Church in Bennington drove nearly the length of Vermont to attend the conference because of its subject matter. “More people need to be involved…to save this planet,” she said.
 
Lisa Gibbons, a member of St. Francis Xavier Church in Winooski, said the conference offered her a “great opportunity” to bring together two important parts of her life: her Catholic faith and care for the Earth.

"This Diocese is a light to help us understand what a Diocese can do in a holistic way to respond to climate change," Woo told Vermont Catholic. She praised the work being done in parishes and schools to educate, reduce, reuse and recycle and acknowledged the Diocese's efforts to collaborate with other faith groups and government organizations. "This is an inspiring example," she said.

Clary said the conference a success, commenting, "It's encouraging that so many people hold care for creation as an important part of their lives --whether Catholic or not. Hopefully today is just one of many collaborative efforts to work together in caring for our common home."
 
For more information about the Action for Ecological Justice conference, see the Year of Creation website.

 

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

Understanding our young former Catholics: Part I

The numbers are bleak. Roughly half of Catholic teenagers lose their Catholic identity by their late 20’s, and of those who still self-identify as “Catholic,” very few have any connection with the Church. While this is something I think most of us have realized or experienced for quite a while, it is rather stark to see the statistics in plain black and white. It is worrisome -- worrisome for the Church and worrisome for them. 
 
In my travels throughout Vermont over the past two and half years, when I ask people “What are some of the concerns you have?” the top two are almost always, “What is going to happen to our small parishes?” and “What can we do to keep young people and families in the Church?” Both of these are serious topics that will obviously be discussed in the upcoming preparations for and convening of next year’s Diocesan Synod. In keeping with this, during the next few months I will offer some information and statistics that will help educate us about some of the substantial issues involved with these areas of concern.

I recently received a report from Notre Dame University that summarizes an extensive survey of young people who have left the Catholic Church.* The report seeks to understand first the reasons for their leaving the Church, second who these young people are now, and, finally, some implications for forming committed Catholic youth. It does so through the use of six significant findings, the first one of which I will mention here:

They are still believers. Young adults who are former Catholics still (mostly) believe in and interact with (some version of) God. Only 19 percent no longer believe in God. While the practice of prayer is less common, “57 percent of former Catholic emerging adults still pray at least sometimes.”

Implications and opportunity: “Leaving the Catholic Church rarely means becoming an atheist. Many former Catholics still believe in God or some other divine force. ...  This is not fundamentally different from emerging adults who are raised in other faiths. It demonstrates a widespread trend in this generation of moving away from organized religion but retaining a belief in and connection with the divine. These youths (and emerging adults) may be open to discussions about the nature of God that are more sophisticated and inviting than some may imagine.”

So they are “spiritual,” but not “religious.” Perhaps there is an opportunity to convince them that both are good choices: spiritual and religious.

 
*Manglos-Weber, Nicolette and Christian Smith, “Understanding Former Young Catholics: Findings from a National Study of American Emerging Adults,” Notre Dame University, 2017. 

--------------------
This article was originally published in the Aug. 26 through Sept. 1 issue of The Inland See bulletin.
 
  • Published in Diocesan

Pastoral plan

Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne is convening a Diocesan Synod to establish a pastoral plan for the immediate future of the Catholic Church in Vermont.
 
Work was done on the last pastoral plan for the statewide Diocese from 2003 through 2006. It was promulgated by then-Burlington Bishop Salvatore R. Matano “as a way of trying to address the reduction of the number of priests available to minister to the people of Vermont,” explained Msgr. John McDermott, vicar general for the Diocese of Burlington.
 
In addition, it attempted to address the demographic changes that had occurred and are occurring in Vermont, among them aging population, reduction in births and population shifts.
 
“An element of the synodal process will be to examine the present and future ministerial needs in Vermont,” Msgr. McDermott said. “It may be that the Diocese will need to make more pastoral changes to parishes in order to best serve the people of God.  At this time, there is no way of projecting what these changes might be. We will have to see how the synod process proceeds.”
 
Dioceses throughout the United States are engaged in pastoral planning processes to deal with similar issues as those facing the Diocese of Burlington.
 
For example, in the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings, Mont., the three major priorities that surfaced at the Leadership Summit for pastoral planning were parish life and liturgy, evangelization and discipleship and vocations to the priesthood. In the Diocese of Green Bay, Wisc., areas of pastoral concern were identified as evangelization; youth, young adult  and family; leadership; education; Eucharist; and the dignity of human life.
 
In the Diocese of Cheyenne, Wyo., pastoral concerns include liturgy and sacraments, catechesis, New Evangelization/youth, family life and vocations and stewardship. The pastoral plan concerns for the Archdiocese of Atlanta fall into four broad categories: Knowing Our Faith, Living Our Faith, Sharing Our Faith and Evolution of Our Parishes.
 
As the Diocese of Burlington prepares its pastoral plan, Msgr. McDermott said, “Our hope is to engage parishioners in the conversation to determine how best to strengthen Church life in Vermont.”

--------------
This story was original published in the Fall 2017 issue of Vermont Catholic Magazine.
 
  • Published in Diocesan

Collection to help Harvey victims

Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, vice-president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has called on the bishops to consider taking a special collection to support victims of Hurricane Harvey and to provide pastoral and rebuilding support to impacted Dioceses.
 
The collection will be taken in the statewide Diocese of Burlington Sept 2-3 or 9-10.
 
Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne has requested that the special collection be taken at all 73 Vermont Catholic parishes. Funds given to the collection will support the humanitarian and recovery efforts of Catholic Charities USA and will provide pastoral and rebuilding support to impacted Dioceses through the conference of Catholic Bishops.
 
“God works through us to serve the greater community, especially in times of great need,” the bishop said. “We are called to be generous to the victims of Hurricane Harvey just as so many responded to our needs in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene.  Our prayers go out to the families that have lost loved ones and to all who have lost homes and businesses.”
 
 
  • Published in Nation
Subscribe to this RSS feed
Bishop's Fund Annual Appeal