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Hopes for the future of the Church

As plans moved forward for a diocesan synod, Staff Writer Cori Fugere Urban asked people throughout the Diocese of Burlington what their hopes and ideas are for the future of the Catholic Church in Vermont. Here are their responses.

My hope for the future of the Church would be that we would see new and continued growth, especially more young people coming back to the Church.
-- Lori Limoges, Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church, Springfield
My hope for the Church is that the Church recognizes all of the beautiful parts of the Church and make that as a gift to the world so that people will want to have what we have and want to be working together to focus on the positive instead of the negative.
--Ray Sevigny, St. Bridget Church, West Rutland
My hope for the future of the Church is that the Church will continue to hold true to what is real and what is true as it always has in a world that is radically changing and bring that truth to the rest of humanity.
--Will Buckley, Sacred Heart St. Francis de Sales Church, Bennington
My hope for the future of the Church is that the Eucharist will always be the focus of Catholic living.
-- Linda Olio, All Saints Church, Richford
My hope for the future of the Church is that people of our Church will step up and be mentors in the faith to the young children of our parishes.
--Betsy Mercier, St. Charles Church, Bellows Falls
My hope for the Church is to see more young families at church, to see more kids baptized and go through CCD programs and become [practicing] Catholics later on in their lives.
--Elliott Curtin, St. Augustine Church, Montpelier
My hope for the Church is to continue the path set forth by Pope Francis: to encourage an emphasis on God’s mercy, to be inclusive to all especially the poor and to continue his commitment of ongoing interfaith dialogue. I can’t help but wonder if Jesus were here, what would He say, what would He ask us to do. I am a strong believer, as are my parents, in doing His works, of helping others as a means to profess my faith and my belief in God and the Catholic Church.
--Michael Kelliher, freshman, St. Michael High School, Brattleboro
I see young people spreading the Gospel message in new and exciting ways that we haven’t even thought about, perhaps by asking the priest or the bishop to bless their phone or their computer to remind them to use them only for good; maybe consecrating every message to Jesus, Mary and Joseph with a “JMJ” at the beginning or a “PTL” [Praise the Lord] at the end. I see them bringing Jesus to the world through the Internet to people who need to hear His message of compassion, love, forgiveness and peace.
--Edmundite Frederick McLachlan, Our Lady of Mercy Church, Putney, and the West River Missions

Originally published in the Fall 2017 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.

Parish walking pilgrimage

Wearing bright orange T-shirts with the word “pilgrim” lettered in black across the front, a dozen people from Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Springfield embarked on a two-day pilgrimage to pray, listen to God and build community.
They began with a July 1 Mass at St. Joseph Church in Chester, celebrated by their pastor, Father Peter Y. Williams, who on July 6 will become administrator of that parish as well. Father James E. Zuccaro, current pastor, concelebrated.
The Springfield parish has dedicated this year to Our Lady, so the selected destination of the 24-mile walking pilgrimage is the replica of Mary’s House at Our Lady of Ephesus House of Prayer in Jamaica, where Sunday Mass was to be celebrated.
“We want to honor her and keep her in our thoughts” during the walk, Father Williams said in his homily. “We know Christ is our companion on the way, but we know we need her as well. … She gives us a great example of courage, to persevere.”
This is the second year parishioners of the Springfield Catholic church have undertaken a summer walking pilgrimage; last year they walked 40 miles from St. Anne’s Shrine in Isle LaMotte to St. Joseph Co-Cathedral in Burlington.
During their walking time, pilgrims spend some time in silence, some in group prayer and some in private devotions.
There were five “rules” for the pilgrimage: Be quiet and listen to God. Change your heart and ask God for one thing to change. No complaining. Build community; talk to someone new. Look forward as redemption and resurrection are ahead.
“We hope to be an example of what true Christians should be like and not be afraid to share our faith and that we have love for God,” said return participant Paul Kimball, explaining what he hoped to witness as he walked to Jamaica wearing his “pilgrim” T-shirt.
“This is a walking retreat,” added his wife, Eileen. She also likes being outside, getting to know other people in the parish and the awareness of God’s presence at all times.
“It’s that feeling of community and joining with fellow parishioners and bringing praise and glory to God and pushing yourself beyond your normal limit,” said parishioner Lori Limoges, explaining her reason for participating in the pilgrimage for the second year.
The pilgrims – whose gear was transported for them by truck – planned to stay overnight at a campground in Winhall.
Other parishioners were to join them for segments of the pilgrimage.
“I feel proud to be part of this,” Limoges said.
Donna-Rae Grant, a parishioner on the pilgrimage for the first time, had one concern: the rain in the forecast. “But we have all our trust in Jesus,” she said with a smile.
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