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Warming shelter at St. Joseph Co-Cathedral

St. Joseph Co-Cathedral Parish in Burlington is believed to be the first parish in the Diocese of Burlington to make space available for an overnight warming shelter.
 
The parish is working with Spectrum Youth and Family Services in Burlington to provide space for 10 cots for homeless young persons from Nov. 6 until the end of March. The space in the parish hall is open from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. seven days a week.
 
“Each of us is committed to serving the homeless population during the cold Vermont winters, and I am hoping that our first year in partnership will help to save the lives of young adults who would otherwise find themselves in jeopardy,” said Father Lance Harlow, rector of the co-cathedral and Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception parishes.
 
According to Mark Redmond, Spectrum’s executive director, the agency had 25 beds available to this young population of homeless persons, but that became insufficient to meet the needs. “We had a wait list, which is terrible,” he said, because that meant some youth had no place to get shelter.
 
It was his idea to approach the Catholic Church for help, an idea he said Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne met with a “green light” and referral to Father Harlow.
 
The co-cathedral space is being used for 17- to 22-year-old homeless persons who can access dinners at other sites and then sleep at the co-cathedral hall. Snacks and a light morning breakfast are provided there, but shower and laundry facilities are accessed at a nearby drop-in center.
 
“The beauty of it is we’ve got everything nearby, except the beds. The parish hall [has] that,” Redmond said.
 
Two Spectrum staff members are on duty until 1 a.m. at the parish hall, and one staff member stays awake there from 1 to 8 a.m.
 
“Those overnight hours will have a minimum impact on the church's schedule, and if there is a conflict with evening Masses, Spectrum personnel will come in at a later time,” Father Harlow said.
 
“I am happy to be able to collaborate with Mark Redmond at Spectrum and his staff who are doing excellent work with this [young homeless] population,” Father Harlow said. “It is very much a cooperative ministry. The church has the space and Spectrum has the personnel.”
 
Asked what the collaboration says about the bishop, rector and co-cathedral parishioners, Redmond responded, “It says they’re awesome.”
 
Many of the young persons the shelter will serve have lived in poverty or numerous foster care homes. “Most have lived chaotic lives,” are behind in their education, lack job skills and have low self-esteem, Redmond said.
 
Spectrum offers a variety of programs to help them improve their lives.
 
“I see great potential in each one of them,” said Redmond, a parishioner of Holy Family/St. Lawrence Parish in Essex Junction.
 
“The Catholic Church is doing the right thing here,” he said. “It is in line with the corporal works of mercy” to shelter the homeless and feed the hungry.

This story was originally published in the Winter 2017 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.
  • Published in Parish

St. Joseph Co-Cathedral steeple

The unique steeple atop St. Joseph Co-Cathedral in Burlington has been removed, and a team of engineers and architects is studying the necessary work and cost involved in replacing it.
 
In 2010 the steeple was removed for safety reasons after church officials realized it was rotting and there was a risk that the 800-pound cross atop it could fall.
 
“Parishioners have contributed faithfully to this project for many years, and it will be a great source of local pride to have this very visible monument restored to the downtown Burlington skyline,” said Father Lance Harlow, rector of St. Joseph Co-Cathedral and Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception parishes.
 
Proceeds from the sale of St. Joseph School also will be devoted to the construction and erection of the steeple.
 
The Champlain Housing Trust purchased the former Catholic elementary school on Allen Street for $2.15 million.
 
The steeple on St. Joseph Church was completed in 1887, constructed by Joseph Cartier, a local blacksmith whose shop was on North Street in Burlington. 
 
The steeple had a large copper ball in the middle and at the very top of the cross a cock, a scriptural reference to the cock that crowed at Peter's denial of Jesus. “This unique French-Canadian religious symbol is the only one of its kind on any church steeple in the Diocese of Burlington,” Father Harlow said.
 
The steeple was removed when it began to list to the side because of rot. “Because of the extensive age and weathering of the original steeple, a new one will be constructed to resemble the former,” Father Harlow said.
 
 
 
  • Published in Diocesan

Father Sanderson's ordination

Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne ordained the Vermont Catholic community’s newest priest at a special Mass June 17 at St. Joseph Co-Cathedral in Burlington.

The newly ordained Father Joseph J. Sanderson has been assigned to serve as parochial vicar at Christ the King-St. Anthony Parish in Burlington.
           
“The call to be a Christian is a call to a life of self-emptying sacrifice, which is deepened even further in the priestly ministry when through ordination one is configured even more deeply into the person of Christ as the great High Priest,” Bishop Coyne said during the ordination Mass.
 
Born in Middlebury in 1990, Father Sanderson is the eldest of the three children of Jennifer and John Sanderson. He grew up in Orwell and attended Fair Haven Union High School, Our Lady of Providence Seminary, Providence College and St. John's Seminary in Boston.
 
“I chose to be a priest for the Diocese of Burlington because Vermont has always been and will always be my home,” Father Sanderson said. “It will be a great honor, privilege and joy for me to serve the people of this great State of Vermont, to labor for souls in this little corner of our Lord's vineyard.”
 
Read more in an upcoming issue of The Inland See.
 
 

Scout Mass

Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne celebrated a special Scout Mass Feb. 26.
 
The scouts received awards in a ceremony after the Mass, and the bishop reminded them about the importance of reverence in scouting.
 
The Catholic Committee on Scouting hosted the celebration at St. Joseph Co-Cathedral.
 
Eight Boys Scouts earned their Ad Altari Dei award:
*Frankie Ellis-Monaghan and Isaiah Ellis-Monaghan from St. Rose of Lima Church in Grande Isle;
*Andrew Koval and Dylan Koval from Holy Angels Church in St. Albans:
*Jeremy Little from Ascension Church in Georgia;
*Richard Cosgrove, Zachary Botala and Andrew Cashmar from St. Peter Church in Vergennes.
 
Also, three adults earned medals:
*David Ely II from St. Joseph Co-Cathedral and Bernie Byrne from St. John the Evangelist Church in Northfield earned their Bronze Pelican;
*Norbert Vogl from Holy Cross Church in Colchester earned his St. George Award.
 
 

Service trip to Honduras

Fran and Dave Mount, parishioners of St. Joseph Co-Cathedral Parish in Burlington, always have been people of faith. There are many ways in which they live and spread that faith. One of the most meaningful ways is their volunteer service in Tela, Honduras.
 
“It’s the right thing to do,” Mr. Mount said. “And it is so rewarding,” his wife added.
 
In February he made his 10th service trip to Honduras; it was her ninth.
 
They travel at their own expense with a Rotary Club of Charlotte-Shelburne group called Hands to Honduras – Tela to work with local tradespeople on various projects like building a dormitory to house 10 pregnant women when they arrive in the city from outlying areas as they near their due date but have no place to stay until they are admitted to the hospital.
 
The Vermont group also has built and equipped a neonatal intensive care unit, created a new-mother training center at the hospital and remodeled the pediatric ward.
 
Most of the building projects are done in four weeks over two years; they are funded through donations, grants and fundraisers
 
This year’s trip took place from Feb. 11-25 and included 47 volunteers, mostly from Vermont, including some medical personnel.
 
The Mounts – retired from the temporary staffing agency they owned – enjoy the service trips. “It’s fun to get my hands dirty,” Mrs. Mount said with a smile.
 
“The local people get involved and do work we don’t know how to do,” Mr. Mount explained.
 
But the couple has come home with new skills over the years. Mrs. Mount has learned about masonry, and her husband can make rebar. “A lot of it is just sheer determination,” she said, noting that sometimes there is no easy access to water, which must be “lugged” to work sites.
 
“We are helping our brothers and sisters in faith,” Mr. Mount said.
 
Through the years the Mounts have taken some family members to Tela with them to help. (They have five children, 16 grandchildren and two great grandchildren.) “It’s important for the kids to see what people can live without and spend two weeks not on their computer or technology,” Mrs. Mount said.
 
In addition to their hands-on work in Tela, the Mounts have established a scholarship fund for high school students there to pay for uniforms, books, supplies and even lunches. The scholarship is for about $250 for each of the 10 students currently receiving the scholarship. “These kids can’t do anything without an education. The country is so poor,” Mrs. Mount said.
 
The scholarships are funded though donations.
 
Mr. and Mrs. Mount are chairs of the Pre-Cana program for the Burlington Deanery; when they give the talk on finances at Pre-Cana programs they emphasize that “money is not everything” and cannot buy happiness, Mr. Mount said.
 
The Mounts spoke of people in Tela, some of whom still use horses and buggies for transportation: “People don’t have much, yet they are very happy people.”
 
“We [Americans] have a really hard time understanding what poverty is about,” he said. “Even ‘poor’ Americans have more [things and comforts] than the middle class in Honduras. And some of that is important to have, like clean water.”
 
In addition to Pre-Cana, the Mounts are involved in Worldwide Marriage Encounter. He is a board member for St. Anne’s Shrine in Isla LaMotte, a member of the finance council at St. Joseph Co-Cathedral and a member of the board for the Vermont Catholic Community Foundation. He is also a mentor for SCORE, previously known as the Service Corps of Retired Executives.
 
Mr. and Mrs. Mount sing in the folk choir at the co-cathedral and are extraordinary ministers of holy communion at the shrine.
 
They support the poor in their local area through their tithing, and when they owned their business, the business supported local charities. “We’ve always been aware of the poor here and sensitive to them,” Mrs. Mount said.
 
“Honduras made us more aware of the basic needs of people,” Mr. Mount added.
 
  • Published in Parish

The future of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

The last Sunday Mass celebrated at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Burlington was on Jan. 1, the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God, but there continues to be five daily Masses, confessions, First Friday Eucharistic Adoration with the Divine Mercy Chaplet and daily rosary there as well as ministry to the poor, the homeless and the addicted.
 
“At some point the cathedral will be merged” with St. Joseph Co-Cathedral Parish, said Father Lance W. Harlow, rector of both, noting that there has not been religious education at the cathedral since the 2010-2011 academic year, and there are no young families with children in the parish.
 
“The two parishes are not merged in a canonical sense. This is the process towards which we are working now,” Father Harlow said.
 
Parishioners of both parishes have been working cooperatively since the unexpected 2011 death of Msgr. Thomas Ball, rector of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, when due to the shortage of priests, one rector had to take responsibility for both the cathedral and St. Joseph Co-Cathedral.
 
“We knew this was coming after Msgr. Ball’s death,” said Bill LaCroix, a member of the finance and parish councils at Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. “People are sad to see it go.”
 
The cathedral has been the “seat of the diocese, the bishop’s church, and there has been a lot of pride in that,” he said after a Jan. 22 regular Sunday Mass at St. Joseph Co-Cathedral celebrated by Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne.
 
Father Harlow outlined three factors that contribute to the immanent merger.
 
The most critical factor is insufficient income from collections to pay bills. “We are running at almost $3,000 below what we need to collect every week. This is forcing us to take out money from our investment account to pay operating expenses resulting in a deficit, which increases about every three months,” he said. “It is like a snowball getting larger and larger as it rolls downhill. Because our attendance is so low, there is no way we can generate enough income to pay our bills. By merging with St. Joseph, we will be able to share resources.”
 
The low attendance reflects the situation of downtown Burlington. The area in which the cathedral is located is no longer a residential area; it has become more commercial. As a result, the family neighborhoods that were there in the 19th Century no longer exist.
 
Over the past 30 years Mass attendance has dropped by more than 1,000 parishioners, which is similarly reflected in other churches, Father Harlow said. In the past 10 years, there were many years in which there were no marriages or baptisms; even the number of funerals has declined.
 
The third contributing factor the rector noted is that when Mass schedules had to be altered six years ago because there were not enough priests to maintain the old schedule, parishioners would not make the changes and went to other churches or stopped attending. “We now live in an era where one is attached more to his or her Mass time than to his or her parish,” he said.
 
LaCroix, a lifelong parishioner of the cathedral parish, lamented that many cathedral parishioners attend Masses at other area churches.
 
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception has 275 registered parishioners. “It has been very difficult to provide altar servers, lectors and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion because of the ‘personnel’ shortage,” Father Harlow explained.
 
According to him, parishioners have reacted to the changes that have occurred and those to take place in a variety of ways: Some have related that they knew there were financial problems for many years, but were in denial about it. Others have said that they should not have built the current cathedral after the previous one burned down in 1972. Others would like to see it stay open, but have no viable means of providing income for it. Others for sentimental purposes would like to see it stay open, but do not attend any Masses there and have “no meaningful connection with the Church,” he said.
 
The plan for the future is to ask authorities in Rome for permission to merge Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception with St. Joseph Co-Cathedral. “If that is accepted, then St. Joseph Co-Cathedral would be designated as the cathedral for the diocese,” Father Harlow said. “There is no current plan for the present [cathedral] building as we do not know how long the merger process will take.”
 
Any plan for keeping the building open must take into consideration that the bare minimum need just to pay insurance and utility bills is $85,000 a year—with no viable source of revenue, he continued. “In the meantime, we continue with our schedule with the knowledge that we cannot sustain it for much longer. It will close eventually, but there is no plan for the property as of yet until we have more information.”
  • Published in Diocesan

A community that CARES

This is a faith community that CARES.
 
CARES Catholic Network, a cooperative health and wellness ministry of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Winooski and the Burlington parishes of St. Mark, St. Joseph Co-Cathedral and Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, is all about Compassion, Advocacy, Respite, Education and Service.
 
Housed at the former convent at St. Mark’s on North Avenue in Burlington, CARES Catholic Network is a Christ-centered, parish-based ministry dedicated to the holistic health and wellness of the community. Through assessment of people’s needs, planning and implementing health and wellness activities and reflecting on the Gospel mission of health and wholeness, CARES promotes the integration of body, mind and spirit both in volunteers and in those they serve.
 
Services and activities include transportation, home visits, a durable medical goods exchange (canes, shower chairs, commodes etc.), advocacy for immigrants, handyman services, right-to-life advocacy, blood pressure screenings and a caregiver support group.
 
CARES has a full-time parish nurse, Sharon Brown, who makes home and hospital visits, coordinates CARES services and is a liaison with other service providers.
 
The Francis Center at St. Mark Parish provides physical space and is the hub of the CARES Catholic Network. It consists of a chapel, two medium-sized multi-purpose rooms, two smaller conference rooms and a residential kitchen.
 
It is a place for community, serving others and spiritual growth.
 
At the center there is space for meetings, trainings and spiritual formation for volunteers; community prayer groups and faith formation activities; cultural/educational activities; education/support group meetings; and storage/collection space for durable medical and household goods.
 
“We are excited we can use this space to reach out to minister to the community, following our faith and doing works of mercy,” said Father Dallas St. Peter, administrator of St. Mark Parish. “The reason [for the center] is to extend the Church’s mission of mercy in this area.”
 
Services are available to everyone, regardless of religious affiliation.
 
Two of the approximately 60 people who volunteer in the CARES ministry as their time allows are Claudine Nkurunziza and her mother, Merida Ntirampeba, natives of Burundi now living in Winooski and attending St. Francis Xavier Church. “My life is to help somebody,” Ntirampeba said.
 
She and her daughter escaped the genocide in their homeland and thank God for the help they received to do so. “They were doing it [helping the mother and child] for the love of God, and I want to repay God,” she said.
 
“Many people would have just saved themselves,” Nkurunziza added.
 
St. Francis CARES – which began three years ago -- brought the family food and clothing when needed and provided transportation and nursing assistance. “Without them, I don’t know where we’d be. They really have helped,” Ntirampeba said.
 
St. Mark Parish joined the CARES Catholic Network in 2015, and the cathedral and co-cathedral parishes joined in September. “We have absolute support from the pastors and administrative assistants,” Brown said.
 
Volunteers will spend the winter identifying programs needed for the spring and summer. Already fabric and sewing machines have been donated for a spring sewing class for refugee women.
 
Marie Forcier of St. Mark’s plans to be an instructor. “I love helping out,” she said.
 
“Pope Francis tells us to take care of each other,” Brown said. “By caring for others, we show the heart of Jesus.”
 
  • Published in Diocesan

Year of Mercy to conclude with special Mass at St. Joseph Co-Cathedral

The door will close on the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy on Sunday, and the impact of the celebrations in the Diocese of Burlington has been “wide.”
 
A closing Mass will take place at 3 p.m. at St. Joseph Co-Cathedral in Burlington.
 
Pope Francis called for the extraordinary jubilee to be celebrated from Dec. 8, 2015, to Nov. 20, 2016.
 
As an "extraordinary jubilee" it was set apart from the ordinary cycle of jubilees, or holy years, which are called every 25 years in the Catholic Church. A holy year outside of the normal cycle emphasizes a particular event or theme.
 
The pope called for the jubilee because, he said, “It is the favourable time to heal wounds, a time not to be weary of meeting all those who are waiting to see and to touch with their hands the signs of the closeness of God, a time to offer everyone, everyone, the way of forgiveness and reconciliation.”
 
Father Lance Harlow, rector of Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph Co-Cathedral parishes in Burlington and chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for the Year of Mercy, said the monthly celebrations have had a “wide” impact.
 
“Not only did we have the major monthly jubilee celebrations drawing large crowds, but there were also various parish, school and individual pilgrimages to St. Joseph Co-Cathedral throughout the year,” he said. “People of all ages passed through the holy door to gain the plenary indulgence, and hundreds of confessions were heard. The success of the jubilee can only be attributed to the work of God.”
 
The Diocese of Burlington followed the program Pope Francis established for the universal Church to recognize different aspects of ecclesial life. Ministries that are operative in the diocese were emphasized including the ordained ministry, lay ministry, families, Catholic education and the healing of the sick.
 
The September Jubilee for Catechists and School Teachers was a celebration of instructors of the Catholic faith coming together to give thanks for the ministry of Catholic education in this diocese. “We are all responsible for faith formation of our children, young adults and one another,” said Sister of Mercy Laura DellaSanta, principal of Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington.
 
Stephen Giroux, creative director for Third Generation Media and Design was the videographer for all of the monthly events and edited all of the videos and interviews.
 
“I had the opportunity to see God’s mercy from a very unique perspective: Being behind the camera and capturing each of the jubilees on video has allowed me to really listen -- especially in the post-production process -- and to understand more deeply my role as a member of our Catholic community,” he said.
 
He considers himself fortunate to have had parents who taught him about being a merciful person as they practiced the corporal and spiritual works of mercy in their everyday lives and passed those values to each of their children. “For that reason I think that I was very impressed and inspired by the Jubilee for Families” at St. Anne’s Shrine in Isle LaMotte, Giroux said. He has many fond memories of annual family pilgrimages there for the Feast of St. Anne. “It’s been a wonderful opportunity to renew my Catholic roots,” he said.
 
The February Jubilee for Religious and Consecrated Life was special to Sister DellaSanta because it focused on their ministry in the diocese past, present and future. “It was a time to reflect on our ministries today vs. our ministries of yesterday and how we have partnered with the laity to pass on our community missions to be carried on by future generations,” she said. “It was also such a special celebration with our brothers and sisters from the many religious communities to come together as one, along with the lay groups and their members that also share in Catholic ministries in our diocese.”
 
Two of the most meaningful celebrations for Father Harlow were the Jubilee for Families in July and the Jubilee for the Sick in October at the co-cathedral.
 
“The presence of so many families gathered at the historic St. Anne’s Shrine, the site of the first Catholic Masses in Vermont, represented a powerful continuity of faith between those French Catholic explorers of the 17th Century and their spiritual descendants of the 21st Century,” he said.
 
At the Jubilee for the Sick more than 450 people came to the co-cathedral in search of God’s grace and healing. “Many people reported to me afterwards how they felt physically and spiritually changed by the healing prayers,” Father Harlow said. “Their experience is a diagnostic indication that we need to do much more healing work in our parishes.”
 
He praised The Year of Mercy Committee comprised of priests, a religious sister, lay men and lay women. “While most participants saw the finished celebration, there were hours of work done behind the scenes and in the weeks leading up to each of the monthly events,” he said.
 
A corps of volunteers included ushers, musicians and parking attendants, and Father Harlow was especially grateful to Msgr. Peter Routhier, former rector of the Burlington cathedrals and now pastor of St. Augustine Church in Montpelier, who supervised the majority of the events including the construction of the “porta sancta,” the holy door.
 
“The jubilee events helped to bring the diocese together as a bigger family/community, and for that reason I feel that it was very successful,” Giroux said.
 
As the Year of Mercy came to a conclusion, Father Harlow hoped that parishioners would remember that God’s mercy is experienced personally through the sacrament of reconciliation, the Eucharist and the works of mercy performed by the faithful in every corner of the diocese. “I am very proud of the members of my committee, the co-operation of the parish priests and the faithful participation of all of those who came to experience, in a concrete manner, the mercy of God which endures forever,” he said.
 
  • Published in Diocesan
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