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Addison County Catholic Youth Ministry

BRISTOL-- The mission of Addison County Catholic Youth Ministry is to create a community to support the growth and education of the next generation of Catholics through fellowship, study, service and activities.
It serves the parishes of St. Peter in Vergennes, St. Ambrose in Bristol and Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Middlebury with different programming and events for youth of all ages. This includes monthly family nights, bi-weekly high school nights and monthly middle school nights.
“We are striving to reach our youth where they are at, which means going to sporting events and recognizing their achievements, having active social media accounts and listening to their requests,” noted Emma Kalamarides, youth minister.
Addison County Catholic Youth Ministry has sent groups to the Vermont Catholic Youth Serve and Steubenville Conferences last year and will again this year. Youth also are involved in Totus Tuus, a summer program for children. Recurring events include games, a discussion on a topic of living out the faith and prayer.
“We have tried on integrate a mix of prayers throughout our meetings which include spontaneous prayer, meditations, the rosary, Stations of the Cross, Adoration and group intentions,” Kalamarides said.

Solar projects update

Last year St. Peter Church in Rutland was the first parish in the Diocese of Burlington to install solar panels to generate electricity. Then came St. Peter Church in Vergennes, where the solar panel system went online Jan. 10.
“Caring for the land and our atmosphere were vital to the health of our animals and in turn to us as a family,” said Father Yvon Royer, pastor o the Vergennes church, who grew up on a farm in Newport Center. “Anything that we can do to either not pollute the land, water or air goes a long way in maintaining the health of what God has given to us.”
The parish had been getting four Green Mountain Power Corp. electric bills: one each for the church, rectory, parish center and thrift shop. The annual total electric bill was about $5,300.
Utilizing the sun to help create the electricity used at St. Peter’s will help reduce those costs. “By the spring our solar panels will be creating enough electricity to take care of all of our electric needs here at St. Peter’s,” Father Royer said.
The solar project at St. Peter’s in Rutland was part of ongoing parish efforts – that included weatherization of the rectory and installation of energy-saving LED light bulbs -- to conserve both energy and funds and is “in line” with Pope Francis’ call to care for “our common home,” the Earth, said Order of Friars Minor, Capuchin Father Thomas Houle, pastor.
The panels produce electricity for the friary, saving about $220 to $260 a month, depending on the time of year.
But not only do the solar panels bring a financial benefit, they provide clean energy. “We are protecting the Earth around us,” Father Houle said.
He will continue to advocate for reducing carbon footprints by following in the footsteps of the founder of his Franciscan community, St. Francis of Assisi, “who saw all of creation as a gift from God and became the patron saint of ecology as he attempted to show us just how inseparable the bond is between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society and interior peace.”
Father Houle is also pastor of St. Alphonsus Ligouri Church in Pittsford where solar panels to provide electricity for the church, rectory and parish hall are to be installed as soon as weather permits, he said. “There should be considerable savings,” he said.
Father Houle encourages other parishes to investigate the possibility of using solar energy, especially when grants are available.
This article was originally published in the 2017 spring issue of Vermont Catholic Magazine.

Father Yvon Royer's call to priesthood

Father Yvon Royer’s ministry as a priest was shaped by his experience growing up on a farm as part of a large family.
“Farming has taught me a lot of lessons that I have carried into my ministry,” said the pastor of St. Peter Church in Vergennes and St. Ambrose Church in Bristol. These include the value of working hard and the importance of taking care of what one is responsible for: people and property.
Farming helped him to be practical in his approach to all situations and to be able to see that like the land needed to be cared for -- tilled, stones removed and given proper nutrition –- people’s relationship with God needs attention.
Father Royer, 54, has been influenced by the image of the Good Shepherd and by exposure at an early age to the reality of tragedy.
The son of Andrew and Bertha Royer, he was born in Newport in 1963, the second of five children. His mother died suddenly at the age of 55 in 1993; his father remarried and lives in Derby with his wife, Annette.
In 1975, when young Yvon was in the seventh grade, his father became seriously ill and was not able to work for more than a year. Then a cow broke some of his ribs, and he lost an eye through a farming accident. “Each incident left my father unable to work for a period of time, and we [Father Royer and his two brothers] just took over” the farm operations, Father Royer said.
He first lived on a farm in Holland and then on one in Newport Center.
“My parents believed that if we were old enough to go to school then we were old enough to do chores,” he said. “Thus starting in first grade my brother and I, (we are what is known as ‘Irish twins’ because we were both born in the same year) were responsible for cleaning and feeding the heifers for both morning and afternoon chores.”
By the time they were 10 they were responsible for milking the cows and rose at 5 a.m. They did chores until it was time to get ready for school; after school they went to the barn until about 7 p.m. to do the evening chores. “I never really minded doing chores except on Sunday evenings when I would have rather been watching football,” he said.
During the haying season his two brothers and he worked in the fields during the day and then decided who was going to continue to work in the fields and who would take care of the chores. “I did most of the baling. Back then we would end up with around 20,000 small square bails that we would put on an elevator into our hay barn above the livestock which consisted of 70 milking cows and 50 heifers,” he said.
Father Royer attended Newport Center Elementary School until seventh grade when he discerned that he might be called to the priesthood. He transferred to Sacred Heart Elementary School in Newport and graduated from Sacred Heart High School; both schools are now closed.
He graduated from St. Michael’s College in Colchester with bachelor’s degree in religious studies and a minor in philosophy.
Upon graduation he entered St. Paul’s Seminary in Ottawa and earned a diploma in pastoral counseling; he was ordained a priest in 1990.
The Royer family farm was called “The A&B Farm & Sons,” the initials of his parents. The farm was sold in 1996, three years after his mother died. “Before we sold the farm, we sold the rights of the land to Vermont Land trust which would help ensure that the land could remain as farmland and not be developed. It has sold again, and it is still a working farm,” Father Royer said.
Two of his brothers own their own farms nearby.
Attending Mass at St. Mary Star of the Sea Church in Newport was always a priority for Mr. and Mrs. Royer. “If we were not able to get to the early Mass on Sunday then we knew that we would be going to the later Mass,” Father Royer said.
Two experiences led him to become aware of the importance of his relationship with God. The first was when he broke his leg during a ski outing in the fifth grade. “In the six weeks that I was not able to do chores, our religious education class was working on what prayer was,” he said. “As crazy as it sounds, I am forever grateful that I did break my leg because it allowed me the time to foster my relationship with God through my prayer life. That relationship has never wavered.”
The second experience was his father’s illness in 1975. “Because I felt comfortable with God, I told Him that if He healed my father I would become a priest. He is still living, and I am a priest. I really wonder what God was thinking as He listened to my offer.”
His parents, the family’s practice of the Catholic faith and their connection to St. Mary Star of the Sea Church all influenced his vocation. And now, as a priest, his greatest joy is found in the many opportunities that he has to share the joy of God’s love in his many one-on-one interactions and via the classes he teaches as a parish priest.
“The greatest challenge is to help our parishioners recognize that despite our hectic lives a connection to one’s parish family is needed,” Father Royer said. “We need to know that we are truly part of a bigger plan, a plan that is part of God’s mission for us. Being part of a faith community helps us keep this as a focus. We have a responsibility not just to ourselves but to all that God has created.”
He currently serves as dean of Addison County, a member of the Presbyteral Council and a member of the College of Consultors. He is the chaplain for the Daughters of Isabella and the chairperson of the Diocesan Pastoral Council. He has served churches in Rutland, Chittenden, Burlington, Derby Line, West Charleston and Newport and was assistant chaplain at the Catholic Center at the University of Vermont.
Asked for his advice for a young person considering a call from God to religious life or priesthood, Father Royer responded: “A lifetime of happiness will only be found when we say ‘yes’ to God’s plan for us. Do not let fear stop us from saying ‘yes’ to God’s call. Who is it that we should desire to please more, God or society? I would also say that as a priest we receive many blessings and honors because of our priesthood, but our desire to answer God’s call should always be focused on the desire to be of service. May we learn to follow Jesus’ example of how we are to love, serve and forgive as Jesus has done for us.”
Originally published in the 2017 spring issue of Vermont Catholic Magazine.

Vergennes parish to go solar

VERGENNES—Father Yvon Royer, pastor of St. Peter Church, had been wondering if the parish could go solar, and after he read an article in Vermont Catholic magazine about the first parish solar project in the Diocese of Burlington – at St. Peter Parish in Rutland – he decided to look into it seriously. It helped that at about the same time earlier this year Bristol Electronics in Bristol sent an advertisement about its solar business.
His question soon was answered: Yes, the Vergennes parish could go solar.
Now plans call for a solar array to be installed on the parish hall center in November.
“God was looking over us,” said Father Royer, who is also pastor of St. Ambrose Church in Bristol.
The parish currently gets four Green Mountain Power Corp. electric bills: one each for the church, rectory, parish center and thrift shop. The annual total electric bill is about $5,300.
None of the buildings use electric heat.
The cost of the solar project will be $73,145; $20,000 of that will come from a grant from Green Mountain Power and the rest from parish savings.
Father Royer estimates it will take 10 years for the parish to recoup the money by not having to pay the monthly electric bills. But because the solar array is guaranteed for 25 years, “we’ll get 15 years’ worth of free electricity.”
It is possible some of the savings will be used for youth ministry and evangelization programs, Father Royer said.
The project has been approved by the parish council and finance council, the buildings and grounds committee and the Diocese of Burlington. Approval for an 87-panel system is pending from the Vermont Public Service Board, the pastor said. That is a larger size than normal and thus needs special approval.
The smallest system the parish would get would be 60 panels.
“This is a green initiative. People are really supportive of green projects,” Father Royer said. “I’m happy we are able to do it.”
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Emma Kalamarides seeks to create a community to support growth and education of next generation of Catholics

BRISTOL--Emma Kalamarides went to college planning to become an elementary school teacher.
But things changed at St. Michael’s College in Colchester where this year she earned a bachelor’s degree in religious studies with minors in education and psychology.
Though she was raised Catholic, the second of five siblings found her interest in her faith growing during college. She was involved in campus ministry, served as a retreat leader, participated in peer ministry, was an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion and joined in service activities.
She interned in the faith formation program at Holy Family/St. Lawrence Parish in Essex Junction and helped at St. Pius X Parish in Essex Center. “I liked what they were doing” to pass on the faith to the next generation, she said. “That sparked the fire.”
During her senior year of college, Kalamarides took an internship at St. Peter Church in Vergennes and St. Ambrose Church in Bristol, and that turned into her first job out of college: She is the youth minister and faith formation director for the two parishes.
Her mission is to create a community to support the growth and education of the next generation of Catholics through fellowship, study, service and practical applications.
Kalamarides, 21, grew up in Simsbury, Conn., a 2012 Simsbury High School graduate. Her father is a business executive and her mother is a stay-at-home mom.
Involved in religious education and youth group in high school, she hopes the youth she now works with will see through her that the Church cares about them and that there is a community for them in the parishes.
To do that, she seeks to build relationships with the students, including youth group members from Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Middlebury. She meets with a seventh- and eighth-grade group once a month and a high school group twice a month. There is time to play games and to discuss serious topics related to faith.
Five to 10 youth usually attend each meeting.
“I don’t want them to always feel they are in a class,” Kalamarides said. “I want them to build relationships with other youth, the adults who are involved and me.”
She hopes the youth will see that “being Catholic is cool,” not outdated.
With a deep love for her faith, Kalamarides hopes to build up the community to serve others and is planning service projects like helping at a food shelf and making blankets for a local shelter.
She’s also planning a fund raiser for the youth ministry: A Flamingo Flocking. For $15 supporters can have the youth group set up a flock of 24 plastic pink flamingos in the yard of someone in the area of the three parishes.
A knitter who often prays the rosary and enjoys Bible journaling and being outdoors, Kalamarides said that after her own confirmation, she took on her faith as her own: “It’s the guiding light of my life.”
For more information, go to www.saspministry.wordpress.com.
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