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Cori Fugere Urban

Cori Fugere Urban

Cori Urban is a longtime writer for the communications efforts of the Diocese of Burlington and former editor of The Vermont Catholic Tribune.

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Show Mercy to Our Common Home

Joyce Dawson, a member of the Green Committee at Holy Family-St. Lawrence Parish in Essex Junction, says “going green” is “as easy as one, two, three: desire, information, planning.”
 
She was one of the presenters at the April 23 “Mercy for Our Common Home” event at the Holy Family-St. Lawrence parish center, preceded by evening vespers in Holy Family Church.

The event was held as part of the Global Catholic Climate Movement's Mercy2Earth Weekend, a global initiative combining Earth Day and Divine Mercy Sunday celebrations to encourage Catholics to reflect upon Pope Francis' "Mercy to Earth" message and put it into action.
 
About 35 people attended the 2-hour event that focused on caring for the Earth as part of the Diocese of Burlington’s observance of the Year of Creation called for by Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne.
 
As she spoke to persons at her presentation, Dawson sat at a table with a picture of Kermit the Frog with the words “It’s so easy being green.” And though it does take some effort to reduce, reuse, recycle and compost, she said the effort is worthwhile not only from a cost-saving perspective but also because such actions show care and respect for the Earth as called for by Pope Francis in his encyclical, “Laudato Si’: On Care For Our Common Home.”
 
Ernie Clerihew of St. Alphonsus Liguori Parish in Pittsford expressed concern about getting people to separate trash from recycling and composting at events like bingo. “A lot of people don’t want to be bothered,” he lamented. “Everybody should care.”
 
Linda Hemond of Holy Family Parish said the effort is worthwhile and made easier by products like biodegradable compost bags.
 
Dawson said parishes need to be leaders in the effort to care for creation. “We want to lead by example. We want our parishioners to do this and their families and their neighbors.”
 
In a workshop on “living simply,” presenter Marybeth Redmond, a writer and parishioner of Holy Family-St. Lawrence Parish, said for her living simply “is about disconnecting from the consumerist society we live in and finding more time for meaningful things, creating more space and time in my life for experiences, relationships with people and activities that bring meaning to my life.”
 
Many people, she said, are looking to have a less stressful existence with a higher quality of life, deeper spiritual/faith lives and more meaningful relationships.
 
Other topics of roundtable discussions were renewable energy, energy efficiency, clean water, impacts on communities and eco-spirituality.
 
Anita Wellman, a Secular Franciscan from Corpus Christi Parish in St. Johnsbury, attended the “Mercy for Our Common Home” event. “It is so Franciscan,” she enthused. “It fits into our way of life.”
 
She said the event helped her to continue to grow; “it’s called that ‘ongoing conversion,’” she said.
 

Paint and Pray

Fourteen-year-old Annie Ploof of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Swanton likes to paint, and she likes to play softball.
 
So with the beginning of the school softball season, she finds she does not have time to paint. “I feel like I should not be loud and concentrate” when painting, she said. “It’s like when you’re praying. You just kind of relax. That’s how painting makes me feel.”
 
So the April 22 “Paint and Pray” event at All Saints Parish in Richford was picture perfect for her.
 
Thirteen people gathered in the parish hall to paint a picture of Jesus’ empty tomb after the resurrection, and as they did so they had the opportunity to meditate on what Easter means to them.
 
“You just kind of imagine” what happened on His resurrection day “as you [paint] the cross and the sun and think about the morning that He rose, and it all ties together,” commented participant Kellie Flanders of All Saints Parish. “It’s very peaceful. It makes you think, ‘He is now risen.’”
 
Her husband, David, sat next to her, painting his version of the empty tomb and three crosses in the sunrise. “It’s a good Easter activity, very relaxing,” he said. “You’ve got to focus.”
 
Patrick Murphy, a retired art teacher at Richford High School, lead the painting part of the program, showing how to pencil in the initial outline for the painting then walking around offering suggestions and encouragement to the participants.
 
Some of his art comments seemed easily applicable to the prayer aspect left to individual personal communication with God. “It’s very forgiving,” he said of the acrylic paint, a comment that could be applied to Jesus, whose mercy and forgiveness were celebrated that weekend on Divine Mercy Sunday.
 
Kelly Lagasse, director of religious education at All Saints, said it was ironic that the Paint and Pray event took place on Divine Mercy Sunday weekend, noting that Jesus asked St. Faustina Kowalska to have a picture painted of His Divine Mercy.
 
The message of The Divine Mercy is simple: God loves even the greatest sinners. God wants people to recognize that God's mercy is greater than their sins so that they will call upon God with trust, receive God's mercy and let it flow through them to others. Thus all will come to share God's joy.
 
The Divine Mercy is based on the writings of St. Faustina, an uneducated Polish nun who, in obedience to her spiritual director, wrote a diary of about 600 pages recording the revelations she received about God's mercy.
 
A picture of her revelations – Jesus with red and white streams of blood and water streaming from Him—was set up near the painters’ easels with candles in front of it and red and white curtains behind. Prayer cards were set on a table for participants to take home along with an explanation of the devotion.
 
“This is an individual encounter with Jesus through painting,” Lagasse said. “As you’re painting, you encounter Jesus through your painting.”
 
As Annie looked at her unfinished painting, she reflected, “It’s not perfect. We don’t have to be perfect. Jesus loves us anyway.”
 
The event was a fundraiser for the youth ministry program in the parish. 
 
  • Published in Parish

Solar projects update

Last year St. Peter Church in Rutland was the first parish in the Diocese of Burlington to install solar panels to generate electricity. Then came St. Peter Church in Vergennes, where the solar panel system went online Jan. 10.
 
“Caring for the land and our atmosphere were vital to the health of our animals and in turn to us as a family,” said Father Yvon Royer, pastor o the Vergennes church, who grew up on a farm in Newport Center. “Anything that we can do to either not pollute the land, water or air goes a long way in maintaining the health of what God has given to us.”
 
The parish had been getting four Green Mountain Power Corp. electric bills: one each for the church, rectory, parish center and thrift shop. The annual total electric bill was about $5,300.
 
Utilizing the sun to help create the electricity used at St. Peter’s will help reduce those costs. “By the spring our solar panels will be creating enough electricity to take care of all of our electric needs here at St. Peter’s,” Father Royer said.
 
The solar project at St. Peter’s in Rutland was part of ongoing parish efforts – that included weatherization of the rectory and installation of energy-saving LED light bulbs -- to conserve both energy and funds and is “in line” with Pope Francis’ call to care for “our common home,” the Earth, said Order of Friars Minor, Capuchin Father Thomas Houle, pastor.
           
The panels produce electricity for the friary, saving about $220 to $260 a month, depending on the time of year.
 
But not only do the solar panels bring a financial benefit, they provide clean energy. “We are protecting the Earth around us,” Father Houle said.
 
He will continue to advocate for reducing carbon footprints by following in the footsteps of the founder of his Franciscan community, St. Francis of Assisi, “who saw all of creation as a gift from God and became the patron saint of ecology as he attempted to show us just how inseparable the bond is between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society and interior peace.”
           
Father Houle is also pastor of St. Alphonsus Ligouri Church in Pittsford where solar panels to provide electricity for the church, rectory and parish hall are to be installed as soon as weather permits, he said. “There should be considerable savings,” he said.
 
Father Houle encourages other parishes to investigate the possibility of using solar energy, especially when grants are available.
____________________________________________________________________________________________________
This article was originally published in the 2017 spring issue of Vermont Catholic Magazine.
 
 

Bishop to convene diocesan synod

Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne has announced plans to convene the first diocesan synod in Vermont since 1962.

Its purpose is 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. This will be at least a yearlong project and is “a serious undertaking by the Church,” he said. “It is not a simple convening of meetings.”

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington serves a population of 118,000 Catholics.

There are 65 active priests (45 diocesan and 20 religious order or ex tern) and 43 permanent deacons ministering in 73 parishes and 23 missions. The diocese includes 14 Catholic schools (including St. Therese Digital Academy) and a catechetical system with an estimated 4,700 students. Through Vermont Catholic Charities’ social services and homes for the aged, the Diocese of Burlington assisted more than 6,000 Vermonters last year.

The bishop will serve as the convener and presider of the synod, and membership will contain both ex-officio members of the clergy and laity as well as representatives of religious communities, lay fraternities and at-large representation such as young people, parents and minority communities.

Before the sessions of the synod are convened – the bishop hopes that will be next spring -- all of the members of the Catholic community will be invited to participate in a preparation process in which they will be asked to pray, to listen, to learn and to discern what the future pastoral plan for spreading the “good news” of the Church in Vermont should be. This will take place on the parish level, the deanery (regional) level and the diocesan level. It will include personal meetings but could also make use of new digital and social media means of communication.

After this work of preparation is completed, the bishop will convene the synod to meet in the necessary sessions to complete the work of discernment and planning and to then enact the policies, laws and directives to carry out that plan in the Vermont Church. “I will seek input from all. I will listen to all. And I will discern with you all,” he said.
 
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