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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

Bishop Kenneth Angell remembered at funeral for his forgiveness, humor, kindness

BURLINGTON--It is difficult to name one moment that defines a person’s life, but if Msgr. Richard Lavalley had to choose one to describe the life of the late Burlington Bishop Kenneth A. Angell, it would be the moment he stood on the steps of St. Joseph Co-Cathedral in Burlington and forgave the terrorists who killed his brother and sister-in-law on Sept. 11, 2001.
 
“On those steps I heard the greatest homily I’ve ever heard in my life,” he said. Bishop Angell stood there, crosier in hand, and when asked how he felt about the terrorists who took the lives of his family members he said, “I am Christian. I am told to forgive so I do."

"And he did,” Msgr. Lavalley said in his homily at the Mass of Christian Burial for Bishop Angell Oct. 11 in that very same church.

A friend of Bishop Angell, Msgr. Lavalley is pastor of St. Francis Xavier Church in Winooski.
 
Bishop Angell, eighth Bishop of the Diocese of Burlington, died on Oct. 4 at the age of 86.
 
He has been remembered for his sense of humor, his kindness, his respect for life and his charity.
 
His wake took place in the co-cathedral on the day of the funeral and the day before, and scores of the faithful prayed next to the open casket.
 
Fourth Degree members of the Knights of Columbus from throughout the Diocese of Burlington provided an honor guard, with the changing of the guard every 12 minutes during the wake.
 
Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne, the celebrant of the Mass of Christian Burial, read a letter from the apostolic nuncio, Bishop Christophe Pierre, noting that Pope Francis was saddened to learn of the death of Bishop Angell and recalled with gratitude his years of service to the Diocese of Burlington.
 
Cardinal Sean O’Malley, OFM Cap., metropolitan archbishop of Boston, along with eight bishops, priests, deacons, religious, friends, members of other faith communities, Catholic school children and others attended the 90-minute Mass.
 
The cardinal offered a light-hearted recollection of Bishop Angell, saying that when regional bishops had gone to Rome for an ad limina visit with Pope John Paul II, everyone was nervous and wondering what to say: “Ken Angell was the ice breaker” and soon had the pope “in peals of laughter.”
 
Karen Brendli of Brewster, N.Y., said before the funeral that many of her fondest memories of her uncle, the bishop, centered around Christmas. “Every year Uncle Ken would go to the prison in Rhode Island (where he was auxiliary bishop before coming to Burlington). He said it was an emotional time for him.”
 
The children in the family loved seeing him. “He always told stories with characters and voices that entertained the kids.”
 
Members of the Angell Family accompanied the casket to the front door of the church as bishops, priests and deacons – vested in white – stood under a bright blue sky at the bottom of the stairs singing Salve Regina.
 
Burial will be at a later date in the family plot in Rhode Island.
 
Click on the slideshow below to view more photos from the wake and Mass.

For more about the funeral and the life of Bishop Angell, see the upcoming commemorative publication from Vermont Catholic.

 
  • Published in Diocesan

Jubilee for the Sick to take place at St. Joseph Co-Cathedral in Burlington

BURLINGTON—“Everybody experiences a need for healing from physical, mental, spiritual, addictive, relational or financial problems,” said Father Lance Harlow. “It is a universal human struggle, and the mercy of God compels the Church to attend to those who struggle in the pursuit of physical, mental and spiritual integrity. God’s grace is manifested for everybody at a healing service because His mercy flows so abundantly.”
 
That grace will be available at a special Year of Mercy Jubilee for the Sick, a healing service, Sunday, Oct. 16, at 3 p.m. at St. Joseph Co-Cathedral, 20 Allen St., Burlington.
 
Each of the monthly celebrations for the Year of Mercy has featured an emphasis on Catholic life and the Church’s role in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the modern world. “The Church has always been involved with preaching, teaching and healing,” said Father Harlow, rector of Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph Co-Cathedral parishes in Burlington and diocesan chair of the Ad Hoc Committee for the Year of Faith. “The means for healing are both sacramental and charismatic. The Jubilee for Healing on Oct. 16 at St. Joseph Co-Cathedral will offer both.”
 
There will be two sacramental healing “stations” for Catholics who are able to receive those sacraments, namely, the sacrament of the anointing of the sick and the sacrament of reconciliation. For those who are not Catholic, there will be “stations” for the biblical laying on of hands with prayers for healing.
 
Father Harlow has been involved with healing services for 23 years in parishes throughout the Diocese of Burlington and offers a monthly healing service in his parish. He has seen people healed through the sacraments and through the laying on of hands. “Praying for healing is one of the most beautiful aspects of the Church’s ministry of mercy deeply rooted in the Catholic Church’s biblical and traditional expression of the faith,” he said.
 
Father Harlow emphasizes that it is God who heals, not him. “Only God can heal you; I just pray,” he said, explaining that “the Lord heals them according to His will.”
           
Some people are healed spiritually, physically or emotionally as they have requested, while others may receive a different healing, perhaps unbeknownst to them. “People tell me they were healed all the time…but the feedback is just a fraction of the reality of the people who get healed,” Father Harlow said.
           
But God knows their needs, and everyone gets graces from the service, he added. “Graces take root by conversion. Part of any healing is conversion, to grow in holiness and the perfection of ones’ vocation.”
           
Therefore, one cannot pray for a marriage to be healed without working on the marital relationship, for example.
           
“The sacrament of confession is the most beautiful and most important part of a healing service,” Father Harlow said. Physical healings would last only in this lifetime, and persons still die. But with spiritual healing, there are graces for the salvation of souls.
 
Joseph F. Myers of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Williston estimated that he has been prayed over more than 40 times. “I have had a physical healing of the low back while Father Harlow was praying over me,” he reported. “I have had an increase in my Catholic faith and trust in God. I have also been prayed over for many family, friends and co-workers fighting health issues. Some are cancer survivors and some have made a full recovery from major illnesses and surgeries.”
 
He suggested that if people have any reservations about going to a healing service, they should go and sit in a pew and pray silently. “They can choose to be prayed over if and when they are ready,” he said.
 
The focus of the healing service on Oct. 16 will be on the adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. “The healing ‘stations’ will revolve around Jesus as the central axis since all healing comes from him,” Father Harlow said. “Therefore, the whole diocese is invited to come and pray for the sick during this holy hour. Those who want to be prayed over for specific issues will be conducted to the correct ‘station.’”
 
Healing services, he said, are done for the honor and glory of God and to reveal to people how much God loves them. 
 

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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