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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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Survey: What ministries of the Church are most important to you?

The winter 2017 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine looks at some of the ways parishioners of Catholic churches in the Diocese of Burlington are assisting persons in need. As she traveled throughout the state, Staff Reporter/Content Editor Cori Fugere Urban asked Vermont Catholics what ministries of the Church are important to them. Here are their responses.
 
Timothy E. Loescher, president/head of school at Mater Christi School, Burlington: “The ministry of Catholic education is important because at the root of every academic discipline – at the root of math, of social studies, of science – is God the designer, God the creator. To teach under the assumption that we can acknowledge God at the root of all things allows us to fulfill what it says at the entrance to our school: Christ is the reason for our school.” 

Theresa Gingras, St. Thomas Parish, Underhill Center: “I think that the outreach that we do for the community food shelf is really important because it’s a simple thing for parishioners to be able to do. Every week the kids bring the food up to the basket (during Mass) and then once a month we do give food out to the local families and community. It’s just a simple thing to do and it’s really helpful.” 

Allison Croce, sophomore, St. Michael’s College, Colchester: “The caring for the Earth ministry is important to me because as Pope Francis says, we can share a common home. And by sharing a common home, we have to respect future generations and practice conservation.” 

Dr. Robert Goddard, vice president of academic affairs at the College of St. Joseph, Rutland: “I’m interested in our students being engaged in Bible study. I think that’s how they’re really going to grow as Christians.” 

Joyce Roberts, Our Lady of Seven Dolors Parish, Fair Haven: “In the ministry of the Church is religious ed. I’d like to see more children participate in the Church and follow the way of Christ, the way He wants us to be part of His ministry, and bring more children and their friends to believe in the Lord and help guide them through life.” 

Luella Aube, St. Jude Parish, Hinesburg: “The Church elderly care ministry is important to me because it provides ways to socialize and to know that people care and are there when are needed.” 

Laura Limoge, St. Amadeus Parish, Alburgh: “What’s really nearest and dearest to me is all the services we provide to our seniors. I feel they are the most underserved group in our community, probably in the whole state. And so we provide meals at holiday time; we have clothing for them, food on a weekly basis. We’ve even helped some of them with their electrical bills and things when they’re up against the wall. That’s my favorite part of working here” at the parish. 

Deacon John Guarino, St. Anthony Parish, White River Junction: “Emergency aid to people coming to the church for assistance is an important ministry because I think it offers us not only the opportunity to help with an immediate need but also to put folks in touch with people and agencies that can help them solve the long-term problems to make it more sustainable for them.”
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Published in Diocesan

Year of the Family: The Joy of Love

Following a successful Year of Creation in the Diocese of Burlington, 2018 will be celebrated throughout the Catholic Church in Vermont as the Year of the Family with a particular focus on Pope Francis’ 256-page apostolic exhortation on the family, “Amoris Laetitia,” (“The Joy of Love”).
 
“Like last year’s Year of Creation, this Year of the Family offers us a year to ponder the Church’s teaching on the family and embrace it ourselves,” Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne said in announcing the special celebration.
 
Among the components of this special year will be a new diocesan Pre-Cana program, a World Marriage Day anniversary Mass, a Catholic men’s conference and diocesan women’s retreat, the annual Family Mass at St. Anne’s Shrine and other diocesan-wide and parish activities that are still developing.
 
“The purpose of the Year of the Family is to explore, reflect upon and implement the message of Pope Francis’ 2016 apostolic exhortation ‘Amoris Laetitia,’” explained Stephanie Clary, manager of mission outreach and communication for the Diocese.

The 2017 year-long focus on “Laudato Si’” and 2018’s year-long focus on “Amoris Laetitia” aim to assist the faithful in understanding these global documents at the local level and supporting Vermont parishes with resources and ideas for furthering these Vatican messages in Vermont communities.
 
“While certain events during the Year on the Family will focus on specific family situations (for example, Pre-Cana prepares a man and woman to start a new family together as husband and wife, and the annual Family Mass at St. Anne’s Shrine brings together multi-generational families of many forms for a celebratory day of joy), the overall focus of the Year of the Family is the joy and love that are experienced by being attentive to the important relationships in our lives and serving as an example of that love — God’s love — for those we encounter,” she said.
 
“No matter into what model our families fit — or don’t fit — they can serve as examples of joy and love in the world if they strive to be domestic churches committed to God’s will.”
 
Pope Francis writes of how “the Lord’s presence dwells in real and concrete families, with all their daily troubles and struggles, joys and hopes” and “every family … can become a light in the darkness of the world.”
 
Emulating what Pope John Paul II did in writing “Familiaris Consortio” in 1994, Pope Francis seeks to highlight the challenges that families face today and proposes ways for the Church to proactively respond in a new way: “Nowadays, pastoral care for families has to be fundamentally missionary, going out to where people are,” commented Deacon Phil Lawson, executive director of evangelization, catechesis, divine worship, marriage and family and respect life.
 
The husband and father of six hopes his family exhibits love and joy. “The world needs more of both of these. As Pope Francis states in ‘Amoris Laetitia:’ The strength of the family ‘lies in its capacity to love and to teach how to love’ and later on he refers to a ‘joy-filled witness.’ If my family and all our families can be agents of love and joy, we will have served our Lord’s mission well in the world,” he said. Michael Hagan, coordinator of religious education and catechesis for the Diocese, emphasized that that the Church truly is a community. “It is easy to make the faith strictly personal and forget that we are deeply connected with the other members of the Church as members of the Body of Christ,” he said.
 
“If we want to help and support families within our Church that are going through hard times, we will first have to take seriously the truth that we are deeply, spiritually connected to them.” He noted that Pope John Paul II many times made the point that the future of humanity is closely linked to that of the family.
 
“The claim, then, is that the world depends on the success of the family,” Hagan said. But how could the family hold so much significance? “The family reflects the Trinitarian community of persons, the family is the community in which God chose to become man, the family is where we first experience love, share ideas, form relationships, and the family is where we hone our skills to enter into society at large,” he continued. As persons seek to do God’s will “on earth as it is in heaven,” it is clear that the family is a gift from God to be both celebrated and protected, he said.
 
“The Church needs families!” enthused Josh Perry, director of worship for the Diocese of Burlington. “In so much as families hold the presence of Christ, the Church — which we know to be the Body of Christ — is strengthened by the presence of families. Throughout the document, the Church is referred to as a ‘family of families.’ The Church needs you!”
 
At the same time, the Church recognizes the many difficulties families face today. For some, Christ’s presence in the family can seem completely absent. “The Church tirelessly works to strengthen and support families through its accompaniment in pastoral ministry and its celebration of the sacraments,” Perry emphasized.
 
In keeping with the themes of joy and mercy, Pope Francis wrote, “It is my hope that, in reading this text, all will feel called to love and cherish family life.”
 
Ways parishes and families can celebrate the Year of the Family:
• Offer special blessings at Mass to families, anniversary couples, children, engaged couples, pregnant women and those celebrating birthdays.
• Get “Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers” published by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for special occasions at home.
• Gather the family and invite the parish priest to bless the home.
• Attend Mass as a family.
 • Pray together as a family.
• Sponsor a parish family fun day that begins with Mass or adoration.
• Pray the rosary on a family car trip.
• Share the faith on social media.
• Begin an intergenerational faith formation program.
• Invite persons who might otherwise be  alone to share a holiday meal or a Sunday  dinner with your family.
• Reach out to an estranged family member.
• Read “Amoris Laetitia” and discuss it  as a parish family.
 
Topics to explore during the Year of the Family:
• Reconciliation with a family member who has been hurtful
• How the loss of a family member affects family dynamics
• How to support a family member struggling with doubt about faith • Living in a model of family you never anticipated (single parent, widow, step family)
• The role of faith in your family
• How to help a broken family heal
• Nurturing good physical, emotional and spiritual health within your family

“The Joy of Love experienced by families is also the joy of the Church... the Christian proclamation on the family is good news indeed.”
— “Amoris Laetitia”

 
Originally published in the Winter 2017 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.
  • Published in Diocesan

Brattleboro Catholic school principal appointed to state council

The principal of St. Michael School and St. Michael High School in Brattleboro has been appointed to serve as an approved independent school representative on the state’s Council of Independent Schools.
 
Elaine Beam, in her ninth year at the helm of the Catholic school, was appointed in November, beginning her service immediately.
 
The appointment is for two years.
 
“I am honored to be asked to join other independent school leaders in representing our schools and hope that I can bring awareness to [the] issues of inequity, especially for our Catholic schools,” she said.
 
The council plays an important role in keeping both recognized and approved schools apprised of changes taking place in State Board of Education rules and regulations. 
 
Asked about concerns facing independent schools like St. Michael’s, Beam said, “The issue that is of most concern is Vermont's Tuition Voucher System. Many smaller Vermont towns do not operate a local middle or high school and some do not have an elementary school.”
 
Thus, families in these towns are eligible to choose from among public or non-religious independent schools in other towns, even outside of the state or nation.  “My biggest concern as a principal of a Catholic school is that these families are not allowed to choose any of our Catholic schools throughout the state or any of the religious-based schools throughout the state,” she said. “Is that really school choice?”
 
Some families do have a choice, “as long as their choice fits the state statutes,” she continued. “All families should have access to the education that they choose for their children, especially if the independent schools they are choosing meet the accreditation standards that the state has chosen.”
 
Beam also expressed concern about Act 77, a dual enrollment statute amendment, which provides financial support for high school students to take college-level courses from college instructors and receive credit toward both high school and college graduation. “The legislation specifically excluded from dual enrollment financial support those Vermont residents attending independent schools on a private-pay basis, which because of the exclusion mentioned above, denies any financial support to Catholic students [for] access to these college level courses,” she said.
 
As she enters the discussions on a state level, Beam said she would bring to the table her background as a public school principal and as the principal of an independent and Catholic school. This, she said, gives her “perspective from both sides.”
 
Beam serves on the Executive Council of The New England Association of Schools and Colleges and works with that agency helping schools become accredited or maintain accreditation. 
 
She earned a bachelor's degree in elementary education from the Adult Degree Program at Norwich University then earned a master's in School Administration from Castleton State College.
 
She began teaching at a small, first-through-fourth-grade public school in Acworth, New Hampshire. There was no principal on site so she was asked to be the lead teacher; she worked there for a total of six years. 
 
She was a teaching principal at The Grafton Elementary School in Grafton and became the full-time principal as the school grew and merged with the Athens Elementary School; she worked in Grafton for 11 years. 
 
During her tenure at St. Michael’s, high school grades have been added.
 
  • Published in Schools

Prison ministry Christmas gifts

At Christmastime some Vermont parishes collect needed items to be sent to those incarcerated in Vermont prisons.
 
“Prison is a pretty dark place. It’s important to make sure people [who are incarcerated] know they are not forgotten,” said Deacon Gerry Scilla, coordinator of prison ministry for Vermont Catholic Charities Inc.
 
Parishioners of Our Lady of Mercy in Putney and the West River Missions have been participating in a prison ministry Christmas project for inmates at the Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield since 2014, and this year their contribution to the ecumenical effort was 4-ounce containers of solid deodorant.

Deacon Richard Anderberg of Our Lady of the Valley Church in Townsend (one of the West River Missions) conducts a monthly Communion service at the correctional facility; he spearheads the parish’s effort that was part of an ecumenical endeavor involving a half dozen churches including Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Springfield and St. Joseph in Chester.

He had about 70 deodorant containers for his first delivery; if more came in, he would gladly accept and deliver it.
 
Parishioners — who in the past have contributed white socks, bar soap and microwave popcorn to the Christmas project — “really go well beyond what you expect,” he said.
 
“We’re always collecting at Christmas for somebody,” said Daisy Anderberg, Deacon Anderberg’s wife. “It is better to give than to receive.”
 
In past years the parish and missions have conducted a Christmas drive for families in the Selma, Alabama, area.
 
The people of the parish, he said, “give from the heart.”
 
Deacon Scilla coordinates Catholic volunteers in Vermont’s six prison facilities and administers the Prison Ministry Assistance Program to help those recently out of prison with needed assistance with food, rent and clothing. In addition, as a deacon he volunteers as the Catholic chaplain at the Northwest Regional Correctional Facility is St. Albans, visiting those who are incarcerated, conducting Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults classes and mentoring former inmates.
 
Recently Deacon Scilla procured a dozen teddy bears for inmates at the Springfield Correctional facility to give to their children. He ordered them online and had them shipped to the facility for distribution, using funds from donations to Vermont Catholic Charities directed to prison ministry.
 
Deacon Anderberg said he could see the sadness in the inmates as Christmas approaches and they are separated from their loved ones. “They need some cheering up,” and the gifts they receive help.
 
But more than the gifts, “it’s making contact with our brothers and sisters” who are incarcerated, he added. “It’s showing them there is a community out there that cares,” his wife added.
 
 
 
  • Published in Diocesan
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