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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

St. Stephen Parish in Winooski is a model of Bishop's Fund success

Gone are the days when members of a parish committee went door-to-door to collect for the annual Bishop’s Fund appeal; there simply isn’t parish-level personnel support to do that. So the Diocese of Burlington depends on the parish leadership -- particularly the pastors -- to promote the appeal within the parish.
 
There are several phases to the appeal. The Leadership and Major Gift phase takes place during the final week in April; at the end of May the official kickoff coincides with the In-Pew phase. The largest mailing phase with more than 30,000 letters goes out in July and is then followed by two additional phases.
 
When looking at parish successes, Shannon Tran, assistant director of appeals and operations for the Diocese of Burlington, immediately thinks of St. Stephen Parish in Winooski.
 
With 162 registered families – 80 percent of which are considered active in their parish to some degree – the parish had a Bishop’s Fund participation rate of 66 percent, “much higher than the participation rate of the entire appeal diocesan-wide, which is only about 35 percent,” Tran pointed out. “By the second week in June, they’d exceeded their goal!”
 
St. Stephen’s was the first parish to do so.
 
“We all have [Edmundite] Father [Stephen] Hornat [the pastor] to praise for that,” said parishioner Jocelyn Barton. “He has a way when he explains things to bring them to your perspective…. He speaks from the heart.”
 
She said not only did he prepare parishioners ahead of time for the In-Pew phase of the collection, he inspires people by the way he acts and speaks.
 
Father Hornat served as pastor of Queen of Peace Parish in Selma, Ala., from 2011-2014, and there parishes had only one month to complete the annual Archdiocese of Mobile fundraising appeal. “I was used to making a big pitch and promotion for the In-Pew weekend,” he said. “I relied on my experience from the South.”
 
He told St. Stephen parishioners he thought the Bishop’s Fund could be wrapped up in a month, and they responded positively. “I thought if we could do it in Mobile, we could do it here,” he said. “That was my goal.”
 
For the most recent appeal, St. Stephen’s had an average pledge of $240, a 13 percent increase from 2014. That is a 23 percent increase in pledge total for the parish from 2014, part of what Tran called a “steady increase over a three-year period.”
 
More than 80 percent of pledges were made in May and June.
 
“Overall, they’ve increased in giving, yes, but in doing so they give themselves so much more opportunity for event planning and promotion of parish collections and national collections because they have fulfilled their annual appeal participation obligation,” Tran said.  “There is a cost for managing donor lists, address verification, printing and of course postage. The earlier we apply pledges to a parish’s goal, the less follow-up is required by the diocese and parishes.”
 
The diocese and parishes work together to ensure parishioner data is correct throughout the year.
 
Father Hornat said people were surprised the parish made its goal in about three weeks. “When I told the people, they applauded,” he said. “I said, ‘see what we can do when we put our minds to it.’”
 
To foster success with the appeal, pastors are given promotional materials directly, and parish administrators are given at least weekly communications with bulletin requests and pulpit announcements from the Diocesan Office of Development and Communications. This includes a manual for assistance in appeal promotion, a video with the bishop’s message, updated information about appeal outcomes from the prior year, a statement about fund designation and in-pew materials.
 
  • Published in Diocesan

Obituary: Sister of Providence Lorraine Boyer

WINOOSKI--Sister of Providence Lorraine Boyer, 96, died Nov. 18 at Our Lady Providence Residence.
 
She was born in St. Andre, Quebec, on Oct. 8, 1920, to Rosa Hayes and Donat Boyer. One of 11 children, her mother died when she was 7, and two years later, her father remarried bringing five more children into the family.
 
She attended the parish school in St. Andre Avellin where the Sisters of Providence taught her. After the death of her mother, she and her younger sister were boarders at the school for two years. She entered the postulate of the Sisters of Providence in Montreal on Nov. 17, 1939, and pronounced her temporary vows on Nov. 19, 1941.
 
Sister Boyer began her life ministry in the United States on Nov. 20, 1941. She was assigned to the care of small children at St. Joseph Orphanage in Burlington, and she continued in that work for the next nine years. In 1944, she pronounced her perpetual vows as a Sister of Providence.
 
In 1950, she was transferred to Maryville Academy in Des Plaines, Ill., where for the next 14 years, she was responsible for the care of boys and girls who came from separated families.
 
In 1964, Sister Boyer returned to Burlington where she dedicated herself to the care of children from separated families and, at the same time, assumed the role of superior for the local community of Sisters of Providence.
 
Pursuing her love of nursing, in 1970, she went to St. Ann Nursing Home in Jersey City, N.J., and, after a year of studies, earned her diploma as a licensed practical nurse.
 
In 1971, she assumed the role of administrator at St. Vincent De Paul Nursing Home in Berlin, N.H., and continued in this role until 1994. She also fulfilled the role of superior for the local community of Sisters of Providence from 1991-1994. In 1979, she took a year's leave to pursue religious studies in theology at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash.
 
After serving for 25 years at St. Vincent de Paul Nursing Home in Berlin, in 1995 she returned to Vermont where she continued to dedicate herself to the care of the elderly at Our Lady of Providence in Winooski. For the next 10 years, she served, at various times, as director of nursing, as local superior, as a local councilor and as a driver.
 
 
Sister Boyer is survived by her brothers Paul, M. Germain, Andre Jean and Richard Boyer and her sister, Estelle) Cousineau.
 
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Nov. 25 at 2 p.m. at Our Lady of Providence Residence, 47 West Spring St., Winooski. Visitation will be from 11 a.m. until time of the Mass. Burial will follow in the Sisters of Providence plot of St. Francis Xavier Cemetery. 
 
  • Published in Diocesan

Obituary - Sister Anastasia Mary Tierney (Mary Bridget)

WINOOSKI – Sister of Providence Mary Bridget Tierney, 88, died May 31 at Our Lady of Providence Residence.

Anastasia Mary Tierney was born Sept. 6, 1927, in Burlington and was adopted.

When Anastasia was 11, the family broke up, and she was placed in St. Joseph's Orphanage in Burlington. She entered the postulate of the Sisters of Providence in Montreal in 1947 and pronounced her temporary vows in 1949, receiving the name of Sister Mary Bridget and pronounced her perpetual vows on in 1952.

Her ministerial life began in 1949 when she arrived at Maryville Academy in Des Plains, Ill., where she taught for the next six years in secondary school. From 1955-1957, she was a student at the College of Great Falls in Great Falls, Mont., where she earned a bachelor's degree in science.

In 1957, Sister Tierney returned to Maryville Academy where she resumed her ministry of secondary education. After nine years, she came to Vermont where she taught a year at St. Francis Xavier School Winooski and then, in 1967, returned to secondary education at Maryville Academy. In 1970, she returned to Winooski, and enrolled in university courses in science and biology at the University of Vermont. By 1971, she was teaching sciences at Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington.

In 1977, issues with her health required time for convalescence. She later took responsibility for the care and management of the printers at the diocesan headquarters in Burlington, and she established procedures for the mail, served in the reception area and supervised the Religious Education Library.

In 2005, Sister Tierney became responsible for the reorganization of the library at Our Lady of Providence in Winooski.

She is survived by her brother and his wife, Charles and Lucy Hagget, nieces Shirley Hagget and Debby and Kehl Berry, and her cousins Betty Preston and Ruth Stewart.

A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on June 7 at Our Lady of Providence Residence with Father Paul Houde presiding. Internment followed in the Sisters of Providence plot at St. Francis Xavier Cemetery.

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