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New Mater Christi principal

Patrick Lofton has been hired as the new president of Mater Christi School.

He was employed for 20 years as an associate superintendent of Catholic schools in Wisconsin and principal, teacher and fundraiser in Minnesota Catholic schools. Most recently, he was the executive vice president/chief operating officer of the National Catholic Educational Association in Virginia.

Lofton and his wife, Dr. Sheri Lofton, plan to relocate in Vermont. They have three college-age daughters. He is spending time in May and June in Burlington, sharing ideas with the principal of Mater Christi School, Anthony Fontana, and observing the school while it is still in session. His wife will spend some of that time transitioning out of her Virginia-based medical practice.

In his letter of acceptance, Lofton said: "As a lifelong Catholic educator, I am truly inspired by the history and legacy of the Sisters of Mercy and their efforts to found and support Mater Christi School. Your school has a long, proud and blessed history, as well as a promising future due to the dedication, sacrifice and unwavering commitment of the Sisters of Mercy as well as the larger community. I feel so very fortunate and privileged to be joining your community."

  • Published in Schools

Bishop de Goesbri and Appeal for Human Advancement Grants awarded to 28 Vermont non-profit organizations

Thanks to the generosity of parishes throughout the Diocese of Burlington, Vermont Catholic Charities Inc. has awarded Bishop deGoesbriand Appeal for Human Advancement grants to 28 non-profit organizations that make meaningful differences in the daily lives of individuals and families.

Funding for these grants was made possible through the generosity of parishioners who donated funds through a second collection in November; 100 percent of the funds were allocated to the grant recipients.

"Vermont Catholic Charities is grateful for the financial support from parishioners throughout the state. This is yet another example of how Catholics reach out to those who need help," said Mary Beth Pinard, executive director of Vermont Catholic Charities. "Because we are able to award grants, thousands of Vermonters will benefit through the programs and services offered by local nonprofit organizations."

Recipients have expressed thanks for the grants and the generosity of the donors.

This year, $62,000 was awarded to the following organizations:

• Addison County Community Action, Middlebury ($3,000): Funding will help repair existing homes of very low income individuals to help them stay in their homes, provide emergency hotel rooms for homeless families and equip the homeless with basic gear to ease their daily survival.

• ANEW Place, Burlington ($2,000): Funding will help with the continuation of the agency's 4-phase program that focuses on long-term solutions for the most vulnerable members of the community.

• Bennington Oral Health Coalition ($3,300): Funding will help support the position of Oral Health Coordinator.

• Burlington Dismas House ($500): Funding will support the mentoring program between former prisoners and college students.

• Burlington Meals on Wheels ($3,000): Funding will help finance the day-to-day food purchases so Meals on Wheels can continue to deliver nearly 240 meals per day to Chittenden County seniors and the infirmed.

• Camp Exclamation Point, Thetford ($2,000): Funding will help with supplies for increased program offerings and for transportation of campers to and from camp. Camp Exclamation Point gives more than 110 children from rural Vermont communities a weeklong residential summer camp experience.

• Care Net Pregnancy Center, Burlington and St. Albans ($1,000): Funding will help support the expansion of the "Happy Together" Relationship Building Program for at-risk clients.

• Care Net Pregnancy Center of the Tri-State Area, Bennington ($2,000): Funding will help with the purchase of mobile ultrasound bus to travel throughout Vermont providing ultrasounds for pregnant women in crisis.

• Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception Food Shelf, Burlington ($2,500): Funding will be used to purchase non-perishable food items for individuals/families in need in the Burlington area.

• Catholic Center at the University of Vermont, Burlington ($1,850): Students at the University of Vermont will use funding to shop, cook and prepare dinners for the poor in Burlington and take the food to the Salvation Army to serve the meal.

• Champlain Valley Birthright, Burlington ($3,000): Funding will be used for advertising to increase community awareness of their services and to making themselves known to any woman who is ambivalent about her pregnancy.

• Committee on Temporary Shelter, Burlington ($1,250): Funding will support COTS Daystation program that serves as a refuge from the streets and helps people stabilize their lives in times of crisis.

• Community Emergency Relief Volunteer, Northfield ($3,800): Funding will be used to purchase additional food needed to accommodate an increased number of clients, support families with emergency aid as needed and replace a freezer.

• Ecumenical Lunch Bunch, Essex Junction ($500): Funding will be used to provide nutritious lunches to needy children during their summer vacation.

• Good Beginnings of Central Vermont, Montpelier ($2,000): Funding will be used to support the "In Loving Arms" program, a collaboration with the Central Vermont Medical Center. The project pairs a trained volunteer with a vulnerable infant at CVMC birthing center after birth due to addiction, premature birth or other health complications.

• Greater Bennington Interfaith ($3,000): Funding will be used to purchase additional food for the Kitchen Cupboard, which provides food to more than 1,200 families in the Bennington area.

• Greater Falls Warming Shelter, Rockingham ($2,500): Funding will help provide a safe, warm overnight shelter during the winter months for those in need.

• Greater Vergennes Rotary and St. Peter Parish ($2,000): Funding will help provide needed afternoon snacks to children of the Boys and Girls Club of the greater Vergennes area.

• Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity, Williston ($2,000): Funding will help purchase two lots to build energy efficient homes for low-income families.

• John Graham Shelter, Vergennes ($4,000): Funding will help fund a part-time shelter case manager who will work with homeless families and children.

• Joseph's House, Burlington ($2,500): Funding will help this parish outreach center purchase food gift cards for individuals and families in need.

• Meals & Wheels of Greater Springfield ($1,500): Funding will help with the Breakfast First Program, a program to help people 60 and over maintain their independence.

• Neighborhood Connections, Londonderry ($2,000): Funding will be used to address critical gaps in the community through a multi-component Community Care Initiative, which incorporates health care/wellness for seniors and families in need.

• Our Place Drop In Center, Bellows Falls ($3,000): Funding will be used to support freezing home-cooked meals to be distributed to people who access the food pantry and for the expansion of grocery deliveries to more seniors in the Bellows Falls area.

• Rutland Dismas House ($1,000): Funding will be used to support summer activities that reconnect former prisoners with their children.

• Samaritan House, St. Albans ($3,800): Samaritan House is the only emergency shelter and transitional housing program for homeless individuals in Franklin and Grand Isle counties. Funds will be used to support this program, which assists families and individuals transitioning out of homelessness into permanent housing.

• St. Brigid's Kitchen and St. Brigid's Pantry, Brattleboro ($3,000): Funding will be used to continue to offer meals to those in need in the Brattleboro community through the soup kitchen and the "Take-A-Bag" program.

First Diocesan Pastoral Council meeting held

Father Yvon Royer, dean of the Addison Deanery, said there was "great excitement" at the first gathering of the newly formed Diocesan Pastoral Council, as participants "want to be able to have a voice in the direction of our diocese and have a lot to offer with their talents and vision."

The meeting took place at St. Peter Parish in Vergennes; Father Royer is pastor there and at St. Ambrose Church in Bristol.

"The laity help us being the ears, hands and voice of the people of Vermont," he said of the lay council. "These representative–based on what I saw–were well chosen and will be good representatives of the state of Vermont" to make recommendations about the needs of the Diocese of Burlington and the social needs of the state.

Deans were asked to submit three names for membership on the council.

There are currently 27 members, representing all geographic areas of the state.

Plans call for bringing that number up to 40 and increasing the demographic diversity.

Father Royer told the group that the laity will play an important part in the discernment process to determine where energy needs to be focused in the future.

At the meeting, Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne explained that the council is consultative, and that he does take members' input seriously; he values all voices and needs to hear all voices and opinions.

During the meeting, members discussed what the Church is doing well, what the Church need to work on and what the Church's priorities should be.

The council will meet four times a year.

Father Royer will convene the council for the first year, and next year leadership will be elected from the membership with Bishop Coyne convening the meetings.

The next meeting will be Sept. 17 at Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Randolph.

MEMBERS of the 2016 DIOCESAN PASTORAL COUNCIL

MEMBER DEANERY PARISH

Dennis O'Brien Addison St. Mary Middlebury
Fred Baser Addison St. Ambrose, Bristol
Constance Goodrich Addison St. Peter, Vergennes
Barbara Zuk Bennington St. Margaret Mary, Arlington
James Dingley Bennington St. Paul, Manchester Center
Thomas Lenz Bennington Christ our Savior, Manchester
Clark Leonard Capital St. John, Northfield
Loretta Schneider Capital St. Augustine, Montpelier
Richard Brodeur Capital Most Holy Name of Jesus, Johnson
Ann Gummere Northeast Kingdom Corpus Christi, St. Johnsbury
George Piette Northeast Kingdom Mater Dei, Newport
Kevin Coy Northeast Kingdom St. Paul, Barton
Susan Ahearn Rutland St. Peter, Rutland
Robert Wagner Rutland St. Raphael, Poultney
Joyce Roberts Rutland Our Lady Seven Dolors, Fair Haven
Bob Danyow South Burlington Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Charlotte
Christopher Poitier South Burlington Immaculate Heart of Mary, Williston
Jacqueline Valentovic South Burlington St. John Vianney, S. Burlington
John Bohannon Windsor St. Edmund, Saxtons River
Daisy Anderberg Windsor Our Lady of Mercy, Windsor
Walter Wallace Windsor St. Joseph, Chester
David Robideau Winooski Holy Family/St. Lawrence, Essex Jct.
Collin Frisbie Winooski St. Pius X, Essex Center
David Rogerson Winooski Holy Family/St. Lawrence, Essex Jct.

Celebrating Priesthood

As we celebrate the Jubilee for Priests and Seminarians this month as part of the diocese's year-long celebration of the Year of Mercy, I am reminded of my own priestly ordination that occurred 23 years ago on May 8, 1993. I was the first priest of this diocese to be ordained by His Excellency, Bishop Kenneth A. Angell. The ordination took place in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and I keep one special photo of the event in my living room. The photo captures the moment during the rite of ordination when the ordinand makes the promise of obedience to his bishop. It is one of two sacred promises. The other sacred promise is celibacy. During the rite of ordination, the bishop asks the ordinand: "Do you promise respect and obedience to me and to my successors?" To which the ordinand responds: "I do."

In the photo, I am kneeling before Bishop Angell with my hands held in his. On that day I did promise respect and obedience to him–and to his successors; that is, Bishop Matano and Bishop Coyne. I remember the moment clearly. I also remember it every year when the entire presbyterate assembles with the bishop at the annual Chrism Mass during Holy Week at which we renew our priestly promises.

That promise of obedience opens a door of special graces for the priest. As he physically places his hands into those of his bishop, he surrenders his priestly ministry to the bishop's discernment for the greater good of the diocese. While there is always place for discussion and collaboration with his bishop, ultimately the priest believes that through his promise of obedience, God will manifest his will through the bishop. That belief is not just an abstract theological notion; it is ratified through the lives of countless saints over the course of two thousand years. Not once has a priest-saint ever said, "Do your own thing" or "Your career comes first." But rather, every priest has sought grace through obedience–and it has always borne fruit in his ministry.

While most parishioners view their priest as belonging to "their parish," he really belongs to the entire diocese. (I am speaking here of diocesan priests. Priests belonging to a religious order fall into a broader category defined by the scope of their apostolate). A diocesan priest must live in that poverty of obedience by which he realizes that he belongs to no single parish, but rather that he belongs to all parishes. His pastorates are temporary depending upon the needs of the particular parish and those of the whole diocese. Jesus made that lifestyle clear in the Gospel in the following scene where, humanly speaking, He should have stayed in one town and made a very successful career for himself. But such was not God's will:

"Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed. Simon and those who were with him pursued him and on finding him said, 'Everyone is looking for you.' He told them, 'Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come. So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee' (Mk 1:35-38).

The Holy Spirit opens and closes doors throughout the priest's life leading him to "nearby villages"–even when things seem to be going well for him in a particular parish. The Holy Spirit knows the souls who will benefit from the priest's new ministry, and the priest desiring nothing more than to do God's will, goes where he is sent empowered by the graces brought about by his promise of obedience.

And so, on the day of his ordination, the young priest kneeling before his bishop enters into a new reality of grace. So young and without any priestly experience, he makes those sacred promises certain of the correctness of the Church's wisdom. And then years later, seasoned by age and experience, he not only remembers those sacred promises, but he has an even greater certainty of their correctness, fruitfulness and protection. Those two words, "I do," freely given on the day of his ordination, allow him to teach, to preach and to heal, not for his own personal success or comfort, but for the common good of all of you who constitute the people of God in Vermont. When you see the young ordinands on June 18 kneeling before Bishop Coyne and placing their hands into his, promising obedience to him and to his successors, remember that those sacred promises will open the doors of special graces for them to have very fruitful priestly ministries.

Father Lance W. Harlow, pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary in Williston and Our Lady of the Rosary in Richmond, is the diocesan chair of the Ad Hoc Committee for the Year of Faith. (See official on page 3.)

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