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Obituary: Father Gerald Ragis

Father Gerald R. Ragis died Nov. 17 at University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington.
 
Born in Burlington on March 31, 1935, he was the son of Bruno J. Ragis and Ruby Anne Sawtelle.
 
He was educated in the Burlington Catholic school system and at Genessee Abbey in Piffard, New York; Le Grand Seminaire de Montreal; and Christ the King Seminary at St. Bonaventure University in Olean, New York.
 
Father Ragis was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Robert F. Joyce at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Burlington, on May 25, 1963. He served in various ministries in Rutland, St. Johnsbury, Burlington, Newport and Orleans. For 12 years he was a monk of Mount Saviour Monastery in Elmira, New York, and in Benson. He then served as pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Charlotte and St. Jude Church in Hinesburg.
 
He is survived by his sister, Gloria Stowell, and her children; his brother, Ronald, and his son; and his sister, Ruth Ann Jones, and her children.
 
Funeral services will be at a later date. Burial of his ashes will be private and at the discretion of the family.
 
 
  • Published in Diocesan

Vermont Catholic Community Foundation tops $10 million

The Vermont Catholic Community Foundation has completed its first year of providing the Catholic community with a choice to establish endowments for what matters most to them and leave a legacy of faith for the next generation.
 
The foundation currently includes 32 funds and more than $10 million supporting Catholic ministries throughout Vermont, an increase of 12 funds and $2.5 million since June 30.
 
More than 70 people joined the Vermont Catholic Community Foundation Board of Directors and Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne to celebrate a successful first year at an Oct. 25 meeting at Shelburne Museum’s Pizzagalli Center for Arts and Education. 
 
Ellen Kane, executive director of the foundation, said that it was only because of the “support and trust of so many people in the room and the grace of God who makes all things possible” that during its first year the foundation was able to establish 20 funds and $7.5 million to support Catholic schools, parishes, cemeteries, ministries and charities throughout the statewide Diocese. 
 
Kane added that most Catholic Dioceses have a community foundation separate from the Diocese to support the growth of their ministries and ensure the vitality of their parishes, schools and charities, because of a lack of funding sources for religious organizations. Out of 181 dioceses nationwide, 143 have a Catholic foundation. Many were begun in the 1980s and have grown from a few funds to several hundred.
 
“Imagine how the Catholic faith could grow in our state if every school, parish and ministry had an endowment fund that matured over time and provided a reliable source of annual income so they could focus on other things,” Kane said, “like providing scholarships to more students, increasing youth ministry and adult formation programs, providing more emergency aid to families in financial crisis, meeting the needs of more low-income elderly in our assisted living programs, and the list goes on.”
 
Jon Pizzagalli, newly appointed chair of the foundation’s board, said the foundation offers “an opportunity for the lay community to get involved in a way that wasn’t possible before.”
 
The foundation is comprised of a volunteer, mostly lay, voting board that will grow over time to represent every region of the state and give voice to the unique issues impacting each area.
 
“The days of the Catholic Church retreating are over,” Bishop Coyne said. “We have something to offer to the community, and we are here to stay.”
 
The Vermont Catholic Community Foundation is a separate 501(C)3 from the Diocese of Burlington and provides donors with a way to establish endowments for ministries that matter most to them and to leave a legacy of faith for the next generation.
 
To view the annual report and learn more about The Vermont Catholic Community Foundation visit: vtcatholicfoundation.org or contact Ellen Kane at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
 
  • Published in Diocesan

Vocation in the Church: Universal and Primary

The first time I had a thought about a vocation I was a child. My sisters and I would play Mass in our home. Always on the search for the perfectly rounded Lay's potato chip for the host, we enjoyed the idea of bringing something so sacred into something so familiar. 

National Vocation Awareness Week begins Nov. 5 and continues throughout the week as a way to teach and encourage our young people about the gift and variety of different vocations in the Church. This week we celebrate two aspects of Vocation in the Church: the Universal and the Primary. The universal call from God to each and every one of us is that we conform our lives to that of God’s Son, Jesus. Through our communion with Him we are sanctified, meaning we are made saints. The primary, or what is commonly referred to as "the big V vocation" in one’s life, is how we live that universal call to holiness. 

By Baptism we are consecrated to God, set apart for God’s purposes. As God’s life in us is strengthened by confirmation and nourished by the Eucharist and Reconciliation, we prayerfully begin to discern our state in life: ordained life, consecrated life or the life of the laity.

In the ordained state of life, a man may hear the Lord calling him to serve the Church as a deacon, priest or bishop. Each of these offices has particular graces and particular responsibilities for the building up of God’s holy people.

If someone is drawn to consecrated life, he or she may consider several different ways that God may be calling: as a consecrated virgin living in the world; to apostolic religious life (sister or friar); as a member of a secular institute or a contemplative institute; as a diocesan hermit; or as part of a monastic community as a monk or a nun.

In the lay state, a person discerns between married life and dedicated single life.
 
Although the focus of this week in our parishes and schools may highlight one vocation or another, the goal is to help raise awareness about the various possibilities within the Church for persons to explore how the Lord is asking them to make a gift of their lives and a gift of their love to others. 

Together, let us build a culture of vocations where our youth are inspired by the idea of the sacred coming close to them and in which the guiding principle for their lives becomes this prayer of their hearts, “God, help me to want what you want for my life.”

Check out a video featuring the priests of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington responding to the question, “What do you love most about being a priest?”
 
For more information and resources on National Vocation Awareness Week, visit: Vianney Vocations and the U.S. Conference o Catholic Bishops.
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Father Jon Schnobrich is the director of vocations for the Diocese of Burlington.

This article was first published in the Nov. 4-10, 2017, issue of
The Inland See bulletin.
 
  • Published in Nation

Celebrating a Catholic Halloween and Thanksgiving

Fall brings with it several holidays that commonly are celebrated by Christians and non-Christians alike. While the secular focus of Halloween and Thanksgiving festivities can err toward consumerism and gluttony, the Christian roots and perspectives of these celebrations offer much more to celebrants. The word “Halloween” comes from “All Hallows’ Eve” (Oct. 31), which refers to the day before All Saints’ Day (Nov. 1). The noun “hallow,” which means “saint,” derives from the Old English adjective “hallowed” with which Christians should be familiar from its use in The Lord’s Prayer (“hallowed be thy name”). In some parts of the world, attending church services and lighting candles on the graves of the dead remain popular All Hallows’ Eve traditions. Christians have been celebrating thanksgiving meals since the time of Jesus and continue to do so each time they celebrate the Eucharist. (The Greek word “eucharistia” means “thanksgiving.”) Before the American holiday was instituted by Abraham Lincoln to celebrate unity and thanksgiving, the Eucharist was instituted by Jesus Christ to unify the faithful in thanksgiving to God for all creation (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1359-1361). Below are a few ideas to celebrate Halloween and Thanksgiving the Catholic way.
 
Saintly sweets
Having a party? Here are some ideas to make candy dishes inspired by saints. Fill bowls up with each of these candies and label them with the saint to which they correspond. It’s is a great way for kids and adults to learn more about saints while enjoying some delicious sweets too. St. Barbara, patron saint of lightning and fireworks - Pop Rocks St. Bernard, patron saint of mountaineers and skiers - Andes mints St. Corbinian, patron saint of bears - Gummy bears St. Florian, patron saint of fires and firefighters - Red Hots St. Francis, patron saint of animals - Frosted animal crackers St. Isidore, patron saint of farmers -Candy corn St. Nicholas, patron saint of children - Sour Patch Kids St. Perpetua, patron saint of cows -Cow Tails St. Peter, patron saint of fishermen - Swedish Fish St. Rupert, patron saint of salt miners -Salted caramel chocolates
 
Be a saint for Halloween
Teach children about different saints by having them dress up as one. Pick a saint based on the name of your church, child, family member or favorite saint. Research, read and learn more about the saint you’ve selected. Most saints can be depicted using traditional costumes with some added items that symbolize the saint. For instance, a princess costume could be St. Margaret, queen of Scotland or St.
Isabella, queen of Portugal; add and carry a cross to be St. Brigid, a Scottish princess; or St. Helena, mother of Constantine the Great.
 
Giving thanks
Give thanks to God before your Thanksgiving meal with this Thanksgiving Table Prayer. O Gracious God, we give you thanks for your overflowing generosity to us. Thank you for the blessings of the food we eat and especially for this feast today. Thank you for our home and family and friends, especially for the presence of those gathered here. Thank you for our health, our work and our play. Please send help to those who are hungry, alone, sick and suffering war and violence. Open our hearts to your love. We ask your blessing through Christ your son. Amen
--From “Celebrating Faith: Year-round Activities for Catholic Families,” by Mary Cronk Farrell
 
Back from the Dead Cemetery Walk Sunday, Oct. 29, 5 - 8 p.m. at St. John Vianney Parish, South Burlington. This evening is open to the whole family. “Back from the Dead Cemetery Walk” is an engaging and inspiring evangelization drama to help teach the Catholic faith about the “Last Things” including teachings on the Communion of Saints, the angels and the three great virtues: faith, hope and charity. For more information: backfromthedead.org.
 
--Originally published in the Fall 2017 Vermont Catholic magazine.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Published in Diocesan
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