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Cori Fugere Urban

Cori Fugere Urban

Cori Urban is a longtime writer for the communications efforts of the Diocese of Burlington and former editor of The Vermont Catholic Tribune.

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Rice Memorial High School celebrating centennial

Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington is celebrating its centennial.
 
Tracing its beginning back to Cathedral High School in Burlington in 1917, the largest of the two Catholic high schools in the Diocese of Burlington has earned a reputation as a “great school,” said Interim Principal Lisa Lorenz. “It is known for its Catholic identity, its community service and everlasting sense of family. The spirit and love of Rice is felt long after graduation and even decades later.”
 
Celebrating the milestone anniversary is important, Lorenz said, to commemorate the roots, mission, drive and purpose that brought the school into existence. “When we take the time to pause and deeply reflect upon the events that inspired the beginnings it is then we allow the Lord to work in us anew to continue His work in the world of today, being lead by the inspirations of the Holy Spirit,” she continued. “If we fail to pause and reflect on our past and future direction, we risk the danger of floundering about like a boat without a rudder.”
 
The 100th school year kicked off Aug. 29, an occasion marked with a special First Day of School Assembly and "Clap In” to which alumni and parents were invited.
 
Alumni from every decade since the 1940s were present to cheer on current students, hear from school leaders and blow out the candles on Rice-Cathedral's 100th birthday cake. 
 
The celebration continues on Homecoming Weekend, Oct. 6-8, with a full calendar of events designed to engage alumni, parents and students.
 
For more information on the events go to rmhsvt.org/riceturns100.
 
“Our Centennial year is book-ended by these events and those at the tail end of the year including an All School Reunion and Rice-Cathedral Alumni Association Golf Tournament the weekend of June 22-23, 2018,” noted Christy Warner Bahrenburg '88​, director of advancement and communication.
 
There are currently 431​ students enrolled at Rice, up 21 percent in six years. Students come from 53 towns and 12 countries.
 
The mission of Rice throughout the years has remained in essence the same: to love learning, to serve others and to seek God through Jesus Christ and His Church, Lorenz said.
 
Rice – named after third Burlington Bishop Joseph J. Rice – opened in 1959.
 
 
  • Published in Schools

Pastoral plan

Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne is convening a Diocesan Synod to establish a pastoral plan for the immediate future of the Catholic Church in Vermont.
 
Work was done on the last pastoral plan for the statewide Diocese from 2003 through 2006. It was promulgated by then-Burlington Bishop Salvatore R. Matano “as a way of trying to address the reduction of the number of priests available to minister to the people of Vermont,” explained Msgr. John McDermott, vicar general for the Diocese of Burlington.
 
In addition, it attempted to address the demographic changes that had occurred and are occurring in Vermont, among them aging population, reduction in births and population shifts.
 
“An element of the synodal process will be to examine the present and future ministerial needs in Vermont,” Msgr. McDermott said. “It may be that the Diocese will need to make more pastoral changes to parishes in order to best serve the people of God.  At this time, there is no way of projecting what these changes might be. We will have to see how the synod process proceeds.”
 
Dioceses throughout the United States are engaged in pastoral planning processes to deal with similar issues as those facing the Diocese of Burlington.
 
For example, in the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings, Mont., the three major priorities that surfaced at the Leadership Summit for pastoral planning were parish life and liturgy, evangelization and discipleship and vocations to the priesthood. In the Diocese of Green Bay, Wisc., areas of pastoral concern were identified as evangelization; youth, young adult  and family; leadership; education; Eucharist; and the dignity of human life.
 
In the Diocese of Cheyenne, Wyo., pastoral concerns include liturgy and sacraments, catechesis, New Evangelization/youth, family life and vocations and stewardship. The pastoral plan concerns for the Archdiocese of Atlanta fall into four broad categories: Knowing Our Faith, Living Our Faith, Sharing Our Faith and Evolution of Our Parishes.
 
As the Diocese of Burlington prepares its pastoral plan, Msgr. McDermott said, “Our hope is to engage parishioners in the conversation to determine how best to strengthen Church life in Vermont.”

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This story was original published in the Fall 2017 issue of Vermont Catholic Magazine.
 
  • Published in Diocesan

Synod update

Preparations are underway for the first Diocesan Synod in the Diocese of Burlington in more than a half century.
 
Bishop Christopher J. Coyne is convening the synod to establish a pastoral plan for the immediate future of the Catholic Church in Vermont and to establish particular laws and policies to do so. This will be at least a yearlong project and is “a serious undertaking by the Church,” he said. “It is not a simple convening of meetings.”
 
Father Brian O’Donnell is the executive secretary for the synod, and he explained that a diocesan synod is an extraordinary gathering for the purpose of advising the diocesan bishop in his role as legislator for the diocese, especially when the bishop wants advice about major policies that affect the whole diocese.
 
“In my travels around Vermont over the past two and half years, when I ask people ‘What are some of the concerns you have?’ the top two are almost always, ‘What is going to happen to our small parishes?’ and ‘What can we do to keep young people and families in the Church?’ Both of these are serious topics that will obviously be discussed in the upcoming preparations for and convening of next year’s Diocesan Synod,” Bishop Coyne noted.
 
The procedures for the synod are governed by a 1997 Instruction from the Holy See.  According to that instruction, there is a Preparatory Commission that has the primary responsibility for planning the synod, under the leadership of the diocesan bishop. 
 
The commission already has met and includes priests, deacons, religious, diocesan staff and lay members from the Diocesan Pastoral Council.
 
“The process of preparatory consultation will begin at the parish level, probably beginning in October, and continue at the deanery or regional level thereafter,” Father O’Donnell said.
 
The number of delegates is limited because all delegates are expected to express their views during the synod sessions. “All Vermont Catholics will be invited to participate in the synod process by taking part in the consultative sessions at the parish level during the preparatory period,” he said.
 
The bishop will set the agenda and decide the number of synod sessions. Currently Bishop Coyne is considering having three one-day sessions.
 
“It's clear that the Church in Vermont is facing significant challenges with smaller numbers of active Catholics, smaller numbers of priests and a surrounding culture that is increasingly unfriendly to faith,” he continued. “This raises big questions about how, in the face of these challenges, the Church can most effectively evangelize and carry out her primary divine mission of the salvation of souls.”
 
Topics for the synod will “likely involve some dimensions of pastoral planning with possible changes to the distribution of clergy and the configuration of parishes so that our primary focus is on the salvation of souls rather than the maintenance of buildings,” Father O’Donnell said.
 
After the work of preparation is completed, the bishop will convene the synod to meet in the necessary sessions to complete the work of discernment and planning and to then enact the policies, laws and directives to carry out that plan in the Vermont Church. “I will seek input from all. I will listen to all. And I will discern with you all,” he said.


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This story was original published in the Fall 2017 issue of Vermont Catholic Magazine.
 
  • Published in Diocesan

Priest with a mission

“Go out into the whole world: Proclaim the Good News to all creation” (Mk 16: 15).
 

That is just what missionary priests do: They go out into the whole world to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ, often carrying out their priestly ministry thousands of miles from home.
 
One is Herald of Good News Father Ilayaraja Amaladass, a native of Paruthivayal, India, who came to Vermont in 2013 to serve as a parish priest in the Diocese of Burlington.
 
Bishop Salvatore R. Matano, ninth bishop of Burlington, had invited priests from  outside the United States to help here because of a declining number of Vermont priests and an increasing median age.
 
For Father Amaladass, Vermont is mission territory.
 
“I am a missionary. Oh yes I am,” he said with a broad smile as he sat at his desk in the rectory of Our Lady of Fatima Church in Wilmington where he serves as administrator. (He also serves the churches of St. John Bosco in Stamford and St. Joachim in Readsboro.) “God has a plan. If one door closes, another opens up. In one place faith may be fading, in another it is flourishing.”
 
Before his 2015 assignment in southern Vermont, he was parochial vicar at Christ the King Church in Rutland.
 
“God has His own plan for spreading the Gospel,” he said.
 
Cooperating with God’s plan has been what Father Amaladass has done, even following his parents’ desire for him to become a priest. The third of four sons, he entered the seminary in India after 10th grade when he was just 15.
 
His mother “wanted to dedicate a son to the priesthood,” he explained. At first he thought about not being able to marry and having to preach to a congregation, but he knew he was spiritually ready to enter the seminary: He attended Mass every Sunday, was an altar server and lector and prayed the rosary daily.
 
By the end of his philosophy studies, Father Amaladass said he knew the priesthood was right for him.
 
He was ordained a priest of the Heralds of Good News in India in 2009 and spent four years as a parochial vicar in four churches in his home state.
 
Then his provincial asked him if he would like to go to the Vermont where three members of the order were already serving, and he agreed. “I could have said no, but I said yes,” he said.
 
Being a missionary priest can be difficult, he acknowledged, because of the difference in everything from climate to food to culture. “It’s a challenge, but at the same time you enjoy learning new things with new people, and God helps you, and the people are behind me,” he said.
 
He keeps in touch with his parents – who own and run a rice farm – via Skype and says family is the “core of everything.”
 
That’s why he calls for Vermont Catholic families to pray for and encourage vocations; this should also happen in parishes and in Catholic schools, he added.
 
“God will provide,” Father Amaladass said, emphasizing the need to pray and work for vocations for Vermont from Vermont.
 
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This story was original published in the Fall 2017 issue of Vermont Catholic Magazine.
  • Published in Diocesan
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