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Teachers, catechists honored at Year of Mercy celebration

BURLINGTON—More than 100 teachers and catechists attended the Jubilee for Catechists and School Teachers at St. Joseph Co-Cathedral on Sept. 18 to honor, bless and celebrate Catholic educators and their selfless call to teach young people about the love and mercy of God.
“I have been very moved by this Year of Mercy in our diocese,” said Sister of Mercy Laura DellaSanta, principal of Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington. She appreciates how the people of the Diocese of Burlington come together for the special monthly events that recognize, affirm and pray for people involved in various ministries. “It unites us and strengthens us.”
Among those in attendance at the celebration for educators were Catholic school teachers and administrators, parish religious educators, directors of religious education, home schooling parents and students.
Following the celebration at the co-cathedral, attendees enjoyed refreshments and displays shared by various schools and parishes that represented aspects of their curriculum dedicated to passing on the Catholic faith.

For more information about the Jubilee for Catechists & School Teachers click here.
  • Published in Diocesan

Obituary: Deacon Louis A. Meunier

SOUTH BURLINGTON--Deacon Louis Arthur Meunier of South Burlington died unexpectedly after a brief illness on Sept. 12.
He was born in Windsor on Dec. 8, 1926, to Alice Marie (Danis) and Louis Henry Meunier.
He attended schools in Burlington and graduated from Cathedral High School before continuing his education at the seminary in St. Albans and later at Middlebury College. He was a Navy veteran, serving on the USS Mt. Olympus during World War II. He worked at the Louis H. Meunier and Sons market, Lou's Cities Service gas station, General Electric Armament Division and a variety of carpentry jobs.
He was ordained a deacon on June 25, 1983, and served in this ministry at St. Anthony and Christ the King parishes in Burlington for more than 30 years. He also was an active member of the Knights of Columbus.
One of eight siblings, Deacon Meunier was predeceased by his brothers: Gaston and Claude; Clarence and his wife, Barbara (Brown); Ronald and his wife, Pauline (Fregeau); Robert; and by his sister, Mona Murphy, and her husband, Peter Murphy.
He is survived by his wife of 68 years, Helene E. (Dubois) Meunier and their three children: Louis Maurice Meunier and his wife, Rose Marie, of Pittsfield, Mass.; Collette Helene Galusha and her husband, Robert "Dennis," of Arlington; and Michele Elizabeth Celeste of Burlington. He leaves one brother, Richard Meunier, and his wife Marguerite (Guilmette), of Shelburne and a sister-in-law, Anne Marie (Kompa) Meunier, of South Burlington. He also leaves 10 grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren and cousins, nieces and nephews.
On Sept. 19 at St. Anthony Church in Burlington there will be a Mass of Christian Burial at 11:30 a.m. Burial will follow at Resurrection Park Cemetery, South Burlington.
  • Published in Diocesan

Serving Up Mercy: Edmundite priest volunteers, affirms need for Ronald McDonald House charities

It wasn’t long before Edmundite Father Michael Cronogue began volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House in Burlington that the reprehensible happened: Vandals burned, decapitated and cut off the feet of the iconic Ronald McDonald figure that sat on a wooden bench outside the home-away-from-home for sick children and their families.

Soon afterward, another life-sized, red-headed clown in yellow, red and white clothing with big red shoes was sitting in the yard at the corner of South Winooski and Pearl streets, thanks to the generosity of a former McDonald’s restaurant owner in St. Louis. The figure is now under the watchful lens of a security camera provided by Ronald McDonald House supporters.

And so it was in March that Father Cronogue — just a month into his volunteer service at the house — offered a special prayer at the dedication of the new Ronald McDonald statue.

He was invited to volunteer at the house after a Catholic family suffered the loss of their parents.

A member of the Edmundite Campus Ministry team at St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Father Cronogue — a tall, gentle man — accepted the invitation not only as a way to serve the spiritual and practical needs of those who are staying at the house but as a way to connect with people outside the college community.

“Part of our Catholic tradition is to give back, especially to those on the margin,” he said. “Here I see a sense of mission, to provide a home for children and their families while the children are being taken care of” at the medical center.

The Ronald McDonald House opened in Burlington in 1984 in the former parsonage of the First Congregational Church of Burlington next door. The house offers accommodations for up to 50 guests; 80 percent of the families that stay there have a pre-term baby in the nearby University of Vermont Medical Center. It serves about 400 families a year.

The house is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week to assist families who are staying there — welcoming them, answering questions about laundry, making sure they have the basics they need during their stay, answering the telephone and the like.

There are three full-time and one part-time employees and about 200 volunteers.

Father Cronogue sees his role as being available to the guests and making sure the house is safe.

“When he is here, he brings his sense of spirituality and draws people together,” said Kristine Bickford, executive director of the house. “He listens. He is non-judgmental…. He exudes warmth and kindness.”

He volunteers about three hours a week — usually in the evenings when families are returning from long days at the hospital. He’s there to talk if they want, but he does not proselytize.

Father Cronogue, a former superior general of the Society of St. Edmund who also serves at St. Anne’s Shrine in Isle LaMotte, is believed to be the first priest to volunteer regularly at the house. “I feel I can help,” he said.

“Every family is in a vulnerable state here,” said Deanna Cameron, volunteer and guest relations manager.

Father Cronogue says what he brings to Ronald McDonald House is an understanding of confidentiality and protection for children and vulnerable adults.

He would like to draw more Catholics and St. Michael’s College students into volunteering at the house.

Being there “puts a perspective on life,” he added. “You see the dignity of life.”

Anyone who is interested in volunteering may call Cameron at 802-862-4943.

For more information about Ronald McDonald House, go to rmhcvt.org.

Article written by Cori Fugere Urban,
Vermont Catholic content editor/staff writer.

Jubilee Year of Mercy officially begins as hundreds pass through Holy Door

To officially begin the special Jubilee Year of Mercy in Vermont, Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne called for the Holy Door at St. Joseph Co- Cathedral in Burlington to be opened during a Dec. 13 vesper service, saying, "Open the gates of justice; we shall enter and give thanks to the Lord."

He said he was overjoyed to see the cathedral filled with hundreds of the people of God as they began the Jubilee of Mercy. "It is a sign of our faith and how we want to be bearers of that mercy to others."

The celebration, he said, marked the solemn beginning of the Holy Year in the diocesan Church, "a prelude to the profound experience of grace and reconciliation that awaits us this year."

And as the symbolic yellow and white door in the main aisle of the Old North End church opened, he proclaimed, "This is the Lord's gate: Let us enter through it and obtain mercy and forgiveness."

Carrying the Book of the Gospels, he then lead clergy and laity – some making the sign of the cross before passing through the door – in two columns through the doors to continue the afternoon service for the opening of the "Porta Sancta" (Holy Door) for the Year of Mercy that began on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, Dec. 8, and will end on Nov. 20, 2016.

Walking through the Holy Door – for the first time in her life – was a "monumental experience" for Marie Moore of Ascension Church in Georgia. "It may be the only time in my life," she said. "It's a time to recognize that it's a new beginning."

During the service, Msgr. Peter Routhier, rector of the co-cathedral and of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Burlington, read from the papal Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy announcing the Holy Year. He said, in part: "Jesus Christ is the face of the Father's mercy . . . . Whoever sees Jesus sees the Father. Jesus of Nazareth, by His words, His actions and His entire person reveals the mercy of God."

He continued, "We need constantly to contemplate the mystery of mercy. It is a wellspring of joy, serenity and peace. Our salvation depends on it."

During the course of the year, Catholics are invited to make a pilgrimage to the co-cathedral to pass through the Holy Door and ponder God's love and mercy in their lives and how they, too, can be vehicles of that mercy to others.

According to Catholic teaching, walking through special Holy Doors results in a remission from sin – an indulgence – when accompanied by prayer and repentance. The act of walking through the doors symbolizes spiritual renewal and the passage from sin to grace.

Moore is fulfilling the requirements for the indulgence. "It shows I have faith and I am praying for faith and peace around the world," she said.

St. John Paul II said that the Holy Door " . . . evokes the passage from sin to grace which every Christian is called to accomplish. Jesus said, 'I am the door' in order to make it clear that no one can come to the Father except through Him."

Also when the door opens, the obstacles of passage to the Lord are removed.

The doors of the Church "are wide open so that all those who are touched by grace can find the certainty of forgiveness," Pope Francis said. "God never ceases to demonstrate the richness of His mercy over the course of centuries."

God touches people's hearts with His grace, filling them with repentance and a desire to experience His love, he added. "The greater the sin, the greater the love, which the Church must express toward those who convert."

God's mercy is wider than the sea, and "there are no ifs, ands or buts about God's mercy," Bishop Coyne emphasized in his homily at the vesper service. "That is not poetic hyperbole; it's the Gospel truth."

He spoke about those to whom Jesus was merciful, including Zachaeus the tax collector and Mary Magdalene, the woman caught in adultery.

His mercy was not merited, and He showed mercy without conditions. But He sought a response: that those who received mercy, healing and forgiveness would respond in mercy, conversion and faith.

"There is a wideness to God's mercy that is incomprehensible to us because we want to place conditions on mercy" when showing it, Bishop Coyne said.

"We seek it. It is there. If we desire it, we will know it," he said.

The biblical theme of the year is "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful."

Traditionally, every 25 years the popes proclaim a holy year, which features special celebrations and pilgrimages, strong calls for conversion and repentance and the offer of special opportunities to experience God's grace through the sacraments, especially confession.

Extraordinary holy years, like the Holy Year of Mercy, are less frequent, but offer the same opportunities for spiritual growth.

The Year of Mercy will be devoted to personal conversion, prayer and apostolic works.

Gerry Couture of St. Joseph Co-Cathedral Parish attended the vesper service and said it is comforting to know God's mercy and forgiveness are limitless. "The world needs that message more than ever now with all the violence," he said. "I think it is import to forgive, and it is important for people to know it's important to forgive. Forgiveness is something that is underrated."

The service at the co-cathedral to begin the Holy Year was months in planning and coincided with a Burlington inter-faith service against gun violence with a particular focus on the forgiveness of sin, prayers for the prevention of gun violence and sincere spiritual renewal.
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