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Campus Compact honors St. Joseph's Residential Care Home

Vermont college students, faculty, and staff will gather on Friday April 7th, 2017 at the Community College of Vermont's Montpelier Campus to celebrate individual contributions and the collective impact of higher education in service to Vermont.
Three awards will be presented to students, faculty, staff, and organizations who partner with our colleges and universities to meet community needs.  Honorees include:
The Engaged Educator Award is given to a faculty member who has made public service an integral part of their teaching and research to the benefit of both students and the community. This year's finalists include:

Laurel Butler, Vermont Technical College

Kelly Hamshaw, University of Vermont

Kathy Fox, University of Vermont

Moise St. Louis, Saint Michael's College

Allison Cleary, Saint Michael's College

Robin Collins, Champlain College

Faith Yacubian, Champlain College

Shawna Shapiro, Middlebury College

The Engaged Student Awards are given to one student or student group at any Vermont campus for both the breadth and depth of their community involvement.  This year, the following students will receive these awards:

Kimberly Payne, Community College of Vermont

Chelsea Colby, Middlebury College

D. Sydney Rybicki and Erin Buckley, Saint Michael's College

Sarah Franco, Champlain College

Morgan Easton, Vermont Technical College

Elizabeth Boley, University of Vermont

Shanely Marmolejos, Southern Vermont College

The Engaged Partnership Award is given to honor a partnership between a community organization and Vermont campuses that has been leveraged to address real and pressing community needs.  This year's finalists include:

Elise Schadler of Urban and Community Forestry for her partnership with the University of Vermont

Open Door Clinic for their partnership with Middlebury College

St. Joseph's Residential Care Home for their partnership with Saint Michael's College

The event will also feature a panel on "Civically Engaged Careers" which will spotlight the experience of four young professionals, each of whom have incorporated civic engagement into their professional lives.  The panelists include: Colin Robinson, Political Director at the Vermont National Education Association; Gwen Pokalo, Director of the Center for Women & Enterprise Vermont; Dana Gulley, MBA Student in Sustainable Entrepreneurship at the University of Vermont; and Robyn Baylor, AmeriCorps VISTA Program Director at SerVermont.

The panelists will answer questions and share stories to inspire civically engaged undergraduate students to continue that engagement as they progress in with their professional careers.To learn more about the work being done by students, faculty, and campuses to positively impact our local and global communities, visit our websitewww.vermonthec.org or contact Kim Coleman at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Pro-Woman Is Pro-Life

Recent cultural conversations on the importance of women's advancement have increasingly included abortion access, perpetuating a tragic assumption that 'pro-woman' and 'pro-life' are diametrically opposed viewpoints. This belief ignores the full reality of the beauty and dignity of all human life. To be pro-woman is to be pro-life; one cannot exist without the other.

Abortion has negative outcomes for both a woman and her child, with the two-fold loss including both the destruction of the child's very life and the destruction of the mother's well-being. The aftermath of abortion for a woman often includes psychological traumatization, and sometimes physical harm. Far from promoting dignity and freedom, abortion promotes the lie that a woman must harm herself and her child in order to be free.

The idea that abortion empowers women is one of many lies in society that are, in reality, incredibly harmful to women. How many other areas in culture have women been told to endure pain and a "quick fix" for their own advancement, whether through the fashion industry, eating disorders, or cosmetic surgery? Abortion advocates perpetuate the myth that women must "jump through hoops" and do violence to themselves in order to preserve their equality and the freedom to advance in the world. 

Many women have rightly rejected the myth that they must "jump through hoops" just to be acknowledged and valued as human beings. The authentic, pro-woman position demands a woman be loved and valued for her own sake, exactly as she is—not because she has compromised herself. Abortion is anti-woman because it attacks some of what is most true and beautiful within a woman. Abortion is the very antithesis to a woman's ability to nurture and bring forth new life. 

Abortion advocates treat pregnancy like a problem or a disease. Pregnancy is not the problem; it's the lack of care for the woman—for her own dignity and life-giving ability—that's the problem. When society devalues motherhood and the ability to nurture life, making these things a source of shame and inconvenience, it increases the likelihood of a woman feeling like she has no option other than to abort her own child.

We are called to love. A woman facing an unplanned pregnancy should never feel like she must face it alone. She needs to know that others truly care about her dignity and well-being, and that there is help through a variety of sources, especially from local diocesan resources like the Respect Life office, Catholic Charities office, or local pregnancy help centers and maternity homes. Both mother and child deserve experienced care and compassion; both deserve a future filled with hope. 

As we bear witness to and build the culture of life, in what ways can we show support, both for mothers facing unplanned pregnancies and for all women and the unique challenges they face? Society often objectifies women and tells them they need to reject their procreative and nurturing abilities just to be equal to men and to feel respected. But there is much we can do, in our personal witness, to counter these lies. When we celebrate and support women in all their unique gifts and contributions—including their life-giving capacity—they will be encouraged to make life-affirming choices for both themselves and their children.

To be pro-woman is to be pro-life. If we want to change the cultural conversation, we must be a part of it. 

Kimberly Baker is Programs and Projects Coordinator for the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. For more information on local help for any woman facing a difficult pregnancy, please visit www.heartbeatinternational.org.
  • Published in Nation

Healing the loss of a loved one

By Sister Constance Veit, lsp
I lost my mother unexpectedly last November after having lost my father after a long illness eight years earlier. My siblings and I suddenly found ourselves “orphans” as we marked our first Thanksgiving and Christmas without either of our parents. Now we are anticipating our first Mother’s Day without Mom.
We’ve spent the past few months dismantling and selling my parents’ home of 50 years. It’s the only house we knew growing up, and it has continued to be our emotional hub as our adult lives have taken us across the country. As we bring closure to this phase of our grieving just in time for Mother’s Day, I feel drawn to share a few reflections on how my faith has supported me during this time of mourning.
The loss of a loved one can engender intense and contradictory feelings; this is especially true with our parents, since our bond with them is so profound. We may experience an overwhelming sense of loss at a parent’s death, especially if they were involved in our daily lives, or we in theirs. In all likelihood, we also mourn a combination of unexpressed sentiments, unresolved issues, unfulfilled hopes and plans and family milestones that will never be celebrated together.
In the case of my mother, I have also been deeply grieved by the suffering she experienced in her final days.
So what do we do with all of these intense emotions? I have found that the Church’s 50-day celebration of Easter has offered me unexpected graces and consolations as my siblings and I mourn the loss of our mother.
Two Easter symbols have helped me to believe that in Christ crucified and risen all of our grief and pain – all our woundedness – can be healed. The first is the Paschal candle and the second is The Divine Mercy image. Despite participating in the Easter Vigil every year, I never really paid attention to the five grains of incense with which the Paschal candle is inscribed before being lit.
These symbolize the wounds of Christ. As he presses the grains into the candle, the priest says, “By his holy and glorious wounds, may Christ the Lord guard and protect us.”
In her book on the healing of memories, “Remembering God’s Mercy,” well-known author Dawn Eden observes “that it is only after these wounds are called to memory that the light of the risen Christ, symbolized by the ignited candle, shines forth and spreads its glow … The light of faith – the lumen fidei that shines upon us and gives us our identity as Christians – is the light of Christ precisely as wounded.”
I found Eden’s words especially helpful in accepting my mother’s death. “When I unite my own wounded heart with the wounded and glorified heart of Jesus,” she writes, “his wounds heal mine.”
In The Divine Mercy image revealed to St. Faustina, Jesus, though risen, reveals the wounds of His crucifixion and His pierced heart. In her diary, St. Faustina relates numerous occasions when Christ invited her to take refuge in his sacred wounds as in a safe hiding place. Christ also refers to His wounds as a fountain of life and mercy, and St. Faustina saw in them a sign of God’s great love. The image of the risen Christ still bearing the wounds of His passion is thus not morbid. It is consoling for me to realize that in his unfathomable mercy Christ embraces both my mother and myself, with all our human imperfections, hiding us in His merciful wounds.
The Divine Mercy image and the Paschal candle remind me that it is in the liturgy, especially at Mass, that we are bathed in the waters of new life, fed with His living bread and healed of our wounds. It is also in the Eucharist that we are united with the communion of believers, including those who have passed on ahead of us. It is there that I can still experience communion with my parents – though in a manner quite different from our regular visits and phone calls.
As our Catholic faith teaches in the catechism, the union of those who sleep in the Lord with those who are left behind “is in no way interrupted … [but] reinforced by an exchange of spiritual goods.”
The catechism informs us that those who have gone before us to their heavenly reward do not cease to intercede for us. “Being more closely united to Christ, those who dwell in heaven fix the whole Church more firmly in holiness.” By their concern, “our weakness is greatly helped.” In faith, I know that my bond with my parents is not broken by their passage from this life.
I’m sure that my mother, who never gave up trying to direct her children – even after they had reached adulthood – rejoiced to find out that she could continue doing so from heaven. We, her children, are consoled to know that now she has the perfect vantage point! We are not really orphans after all.
Sister Constance Veit is the director of communications for the Little Sisters of the Poor.

Looking back over Lents past

“Faith, as Paul saw it, was a living, flaming thing leading to surrender and obedience to the commandments of Christ.”
A. W. Tozer
By Mary Morrell
Wellspring Communications
Looking back over Lents past, I have to admit my most meaningful Lenten experience happened when I spent the week before Easter in the hospital with my youngest son. It was certainly unexpected, but life doesn’t ask you if you’re prepared before it throws the unexpected your way.
After rushing a very ill 18-year-old to the emergency room, I spent the next eight hours waiting for a room, with nothing to do except observe what was happening around us.
During this time, I discovered that there really is no more fruitful place to spend some time journeying toward Easter than in the emergency room.
This is a place to truly experience the suffering of the cross.
Being present in an emergency room places a person in close proximity to the vulnerability of others. Here, amid the woundedness, amid the relationship of sufferers and caregivers, are powerful lessons to be learned.
Just observing how each person dealt differently with suffering was an education for me. There was the young woman, hysterical and in great pain, who was un-consolable until her husband arrived. His presence calmed her immediately.
Then there was a middle-aged man, involved in a car accident, who repeatedly entered into verbal warfare with a person in the room, attempting to place the blame for his injuries on someone else, as if that would make him hurt less. He made caregiving difficult.
But the patient who touched me the most was a little old lady, obviously suffering from some form of dementia as well as physical problems, whose repeated outbursts had the tone of a raspy voiced boxer. Time after time, throughout the course of a very long day, she called out to children who were not there, “Carol, I need my puffer!!”
“Carol, are you listening to me?”
“Carol, you’re killing me here!”
Obviously this woman realized she was totally dependent on others and had no choice except to surrender to their care, but she seemed also to know that surrender didn’t mean giving up the fight.
In fact, after one especially loud round of outbursts, a very wise nurse was heard to say, “She’s a contendah!”
And that she was, but to me she was also an example of the living, flame of faith that surrenders itself to God, and in so doing, gains more strength and more fire.
Still, every once in a while this suffering woman with the cartoon-character voice would lose her feistiness and plead with an absent son: “Help me, please, please, please!”
It was at those times that her anger would give way to the vulnerability that is manifest when a person acknowledges his or her needs. This is the time when true strength rises in the heart of a person, a time when we are strong enough to be humble.
Watching those around us in the emergency room was a reminder to me that pain is inevitable, and that the only way back to peace and joy is to walk through the pain, as Jesus did on the way to Gethsemane.
But a lesson was confirmed for me during what would be some very long days and nights in the hospital: The surest way though pain is with love—whether it is the self-giving of family or friends, the compassionate presence of a priest, or the exceptional care of nurses or doctors who make a person feel as if they really do matter.
A wise bishop once told me that Easter was the greatest love story ever told. With that in mind, it would be a blessing during this Lenten season to walk with another person through his or her suffering and see our love give rise to the amazing grace of resurrection in another’s life.
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