Log in
    

Church communities united in Christ

Edmundite Father Charles Ranges, pastor of the three Essex Catholic churches, stands with Dr. Carolyn Woo, a former head of Catholic Relief Services when she was in Vermont to speak at the “Action for Ecological Justice: Celebrating a Year of Creation” conference at St. Michael's College in Colchester. (Vermont Catholic/Cori Fugere Urban) Edmundite Father Charles Ranges, pastor of the three Essex Catholic churches, stands with Dr. Carolyn Woo, a former head of Catholic Relief Services when she was in Vermont to speak at the “Action for Ecological Justice: Celebrating a Year of Creation” conference at St. Michael's College in Colchester.
Parishioners of churches joined by the ministry of one priest are making their way toward greater unity by collaborating on outreach projects.
 
In Essex, for example, members of Holy Family/St. Lawrence and St. Pius X parishes came together as the Essex Catholic Community to help their neighbors — both parishioners and non parishioners — through Serve Our Neighbor Day.
 
The project, begun by Holy Family/St. Lawrence parishioners, takes place in the fall and spring to help people with chores like small home repairs, window washing, raking and gutter cleaning. Most recently about 125 volunteers spent a day on 24 projects.
 
“An event like this brings us all together,” said John McMahon, a project coordinator who is also the Holy Family/St. Lawrence faith formation director.
 
Teams for the projects are made up of members from the difference churches so parishioners get to know one another. “It’s a lovely expression and breaks down barriers,” he said. “It’s part of the process of bring the churches together … mobilizing the parishes to joyfully serve people in need.”
 
It can be challenging to bring two distinct parish communities together, each having its own identity and traditions.
 
“When I arrived at my two parishes they had their own distinct way of putting God’s call to us ‘to love thy neighbor’ into practice,” noted Father Yvon Royer, pastor of St. Peter Church in Vergennes and St. Ambrose Church in Bristol. Though much of that distinctiveness remains, the parishes do offer free community meals once a month, open to both communities. “We are feeding on average 275 people per month between the two of them,” Father Royer said.
 
Edmundite Father Charles Ranges is pastor of the three Essex churches, two in Essex Junction and one in Essex Center. “Essex is really one community and all of the students go to the same high school,” he said. “The churches are close together and people attend all three of the churches.”
 
The parishioners served on “Serve Our Neighbor Day” are generally elderly and unable to do this work themselves. The day begins and ends with prayer and reflection and the work is done in the name of Jesus. 
 
“The work has been enhanced by joining forces and is advertised as an event of the Essex Catholic Community,” Father Ranges said.
 
Other activities on which the Essex Catholic parishes work together are “Essex Eats out,” a monthly community dinner, collecting food for Heavenly Pantry in Essex Junction and the Essex Jericho Underhill Food Shelf. 
 
And as they prepared for Christmas, all three churches had "giving trees" and baskets with food that was given to needy families. "The attempt is to have a unified message at all churches so we are united in our charitable activities,” the pastor said. “Bringing the good works of both parishes together is a ‘work in progress,’ but I know that we are going in the right direction since when united we can accomplish more.”
 
Last modified onMonday, 12 February 2018 09:41
Bishop's Fund Annual Appeal