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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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Good Samaritans

The members of this group at The Most Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Morrisville could be called Good Samaritans, or even Good SAMs.
 
That’s because they do the work of the Social Action Ministry — known as SAM — and assist those in need, even outside the parish community.
 
“We all have Christ in our hearts, and when we help others … it’s really Christ working through us. We are His hands and feet,” commented Mary Elfer, parish ministries coordinator. “It’s Christ within us that connect us to one another.”
 
Throughout the Catholic Church in Vermont, parishioners are reaching out to their neighbors in need through social outreach programs like SAM.
 
“Their faith drives them to do it,” commented Deacon Tom Cooney, a member of the ministry.
 
In Lamoille County, SAM connects people in need with necessary services, helps to support a community breakfast, provides emergency financial assistance, distributes Thanksgiving baskets, provides hot meals in winter to residents of low-income senior housing, donates to two local food shelves and collaborates with the Morrisville Rotary on an annual coat giveaway (for which the ministry purchases a dozen new children’s coats).
 
Most recipients are not Catholic, Elfer said, noting that the ministry is a mission of the parish; parishioners generously donate to it. “It’s important to see Christ in each other and the suffering Christ in those who suffer and to align ourselves with Christ through that suffering.”
 
She mentioned one man who received three phone cards through SAM, gifts Elfer was told will give him a new lease on life.
 
“Our hearts are raised up in helping each other,” she said.
 
Ramona Audet, a member of the Social Action Ministry, commented, “It makes you feel so good when you help somebody. People are so thankful.”
 
Pam Kozikowski, a parishioner of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Williston, said that parish is involved in a variety of outreach work including a ministry to senior citizens, support of the local food shelf, a winter coat drive, participation in Operation Christmas Child, support of Kurn Hattin Homes for Children in Westminster, Christmas gifts for clients of Howard Center in Burlington and support of Joseph’s House in Burlington. “It’s important for the community to know that we care and that we’re there for them,” she said. “We try to reach out to people so they know [the parish] is a warm, safe place to go and if they have been away from the Church for a while this is where they want to come back to.”
 
The goal of these outreach ministries, Kozikowski said, is “to spread joy, love and warmth.”
 
Connie Cooney, a member of SAM, said persons engaged in such work are living out the Gospel. “Jesus told us to love one another, and when you love one another, you take care of one another. And this is what we do.”

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

Scholarship gift for woman attending Catholic college

Members of the Trinity College Class of 1968 will celebrate their 50th reunion this year and to enhance the celebration will present a one-time gift of $4,000 to a Catholic woman attending an accredited Catholic college or university. 
 
“While we came from different backgrounds and different educations … we had three things in common,” noted class member Mary Cheney of Charlotte. “We were women; we chose to pursue/attain an undergraduate degree; we chose to pursue this degree at a Catholic College.”
 
Trinity College in Burlington was a small, Catholic women’s liberal arts college founded by the Sisters of Mercy. It closed in 2001, but the Trinity College of Vermont Association of Alumni and Friends remains active.
 
“We are looking for a woman [to receive the gift] who is a reflection of ourselves 50 years ago,” said Carol Lyons Muller of Hinesburg, another member of the Class of 1968. “We wanted this gift to go to another woman who was reminiscent of ourselves.”
 
The objective of the gift is to encourage Catholic women to pursue their undergraduate degree within the community of a Catholic institution of higher education.
 
“The Catholic education came complete with excellent academics plus a phrase that we heard over and over [from the Sisters of Mercy]: ‘Don’t forget who you are and what you represent,’” Muller said.
 
Graduating high school seniors or adult students attending a post-secondary school for the first time are eligible for the gift. Candidates do not need to be from Vermont, and the school does not need to be in Vermont. 
 
The gift will be for the 2018-2019 academic year.
 
The $4,000 will come from Class of 1968 donors. “At our 45th reunion, about 20 of us were having dinner in downtown Burlington and talked about making the 50th a really big splash,” Muller said. “We decided then to raise money for a class gift. By the end of dinner we had about $300 seed money, and it has grown from there.”
 
Contributions have come from the class members, and in one case, from the brother of a deceased class member. 
 
The majority of the Class of 1968 received some form of financial aid from Trinity College; many of them were the first generation of their family to attend college. “We matured at Trinity; it gave us a solid foundation on which to build our adult lives,” Muller said. “We are heartsick that the school closed, but that’s history now. We want another woman to know that, while we are helping her, someone else helped us. If our dollars can ease her way, perhaps she can pay it forward when she is, as we are now, women ‘of a certain age’ and looking back at what was important.”
 
The application deadline for the gift is April 15.
 
For more information, to obtain an application or to make a monetary contribution, call 802-578-4601.

 
 
 

CARES Catholic Network

About a year ago Cecile Robert of Winooski fell, breaking her pelvis, scapula and a rib, and as part of her rehabilitation at a local nursing home she needed a walker.
 
She remembered reading in the bulletin of her church, St. Francis Xavier, about CARES Catholic Network, a ministry that, among other things, provides a medical equipment exchange.
 
Through CARES, Robert got the needed walker plus a shower bench and a bedside commode – all at no charge.
 
The ministry saved her more than $300.
 
“It would have been difficult without a service like this,” she said.
 
CARES – an acronym for Compassion, Advocacy, Respite, Education and Service – has served scores of people in the three years since it began.
 
A ministry of St. Francis Xavier Church and of St. Mark Church in Burlington, CARES provides a host of services in addition to the medical equipment exchange including sewing lessons, a fellowship/arts and crafts group, handyman services, home and nursing home visitors, repair of four-wheeled walkers with brakes, parish nurse services and a rosary group. In addition, volunteers pick up baked goods and bread twice a week from a local restaurant to distribute to St. Joseph’s Home and Mount St. Mary Convent in Burlington.
 
The Francis Center in the former convent next to St. Mark Church is the activities hub for CARES, a ministry that assists people of all faiths.
 
Sharon Brown, volunteer parish nurse, coordinates the health and wellness ministry. She hopes in the spring to add a beginner sewing class and a knitting group.
 
She delivers medical equipment to people like Robert, 89, and instructs them in the proper use. The elongated shower bench, for example, is safer because it allows the user to sit down and then lift his or her feet into the tub, reducing the risk of falling.
 
Items like shower benches, walkers and commodes are donated to CARES for distribution to those who need them, and when the items are no longer needed, CARES asks for them back to offer to someone else.
 
Donations are accepted but not solicited.
 
Robert said this is just one way the parishes are helping others: “Doing good: Isn’t that what the Church is all about?”
 
For more information about CARES or to volunteer or donate goods or services, contact Sharon Brown at 802-922-2958 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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

School Christmas activity

The boxes of donated items to four different charities during Advent are a testament to the generosity of the families at St. Paul School in Barton.
 
With only about 50 families, the school sends boxes of gifts to active soldiers, pet items to the local animal shelter, toys to the Toys for Tots program and food to the local food pantry.
 
“This is little Barton, and our families sacrifice to [send their children] here already. They are so thankful and somehow able to still be generous,” said Principal Joanne Beloin.
 
There are 68 students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, and 30 percent of the students qualify for free and reduced lunches.
 
“A lot has been done for us at St. Paul’s or we wouldn’t still be here,” she said. “It’s the right thing to do to pass on that generosity and help others.”
 
The school community sends two boxes of toiletries, games, candy, writing material, socks and homemade cards to soldiers during Advent and another for Valentine’s Day.
 
“Our school as a whole really supports our vets,” Beloin said, and that support reaches to today’s soldiers.
 
“They support our country, and we want to honor them and support what they are doing for us,” said Jennifer Wilson, the third- and fourth-grade teacher as her students worked on a poppy-themed art project to send to veterans.
 
“It’s nice to do this. They are rising their lives for us,” Micha Sicard, 9, a third grader said of the boxes sent to soldiers.
 
Classmate Akira Conley, 8, said she likes collecting for the animal shelter because “God doesn’t want to see the animals starve because they’re His creation.”
 
Mara Royer, 13, an eighth grader, usually contributes to the Toys for Tots collection because she likes to help ensure a child’s happiness on Christmas morning. “You want to welcome Christ by being full of cheer, and you want everyone to be as happy as possible.”
 
Riley Perry, 13, also an eighth grader, said her family and school community model generosity for her: “It’s important to be generous because you can share happiness.”
 
“Giving is just as good as receiving,” Mara added. “It makes you happy deep down inside.”

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