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Fostering a 'Culture of Vocations'

There is no doubt of the importance of the priesthood, consecrated religious life and sacramental marriage in the Church, but to foster and build these vocations, there must be a culture of vocations in each parish.
 
That was the message Rhonda Gruenewald, author of “Hundredfold: A Guide to Parish Vocation Ministry,” brought to a daylong workshop on the topic at St. Anthony Church in White River Junction Nov. 4.
 
The aim of her book — and of her presentations — is to inspire laypersons beginning or reviving a vocation ministry or committee and provide tested activities to bring about a culture of vocations in their parish.
 
Each of the 40 participants in the workshop at St. Anthony’s received a copy of the book, which gives background and ideas for a vocations ministry like a family Holy Hour for vocations, Eucharistic adoration for vocations, an altar server lunch with priests, a fish fry for vocations, seminarian trading cards, recognition of married couples at Mass and panel discussions.
 
“We are trying to create an environment where young people can hear and answer God’s call” to priesthood, consecrated religious life or sacramental marriage, Gruenewald said in her presentation entitled “Forming a Vocation-Friendly Parish.”
 
With some 3,500 parishes in the United States without a resident pastor, the number of religious sisters diminishing in many orders and many young people not considering marriage in the Church an option, this is a “clarion call to do something,” Gruenewald emphasized.
 
Though there is an uptick in the number of seminarians in some dioceses and some religious orders are receiving more new members, “we need an entity in every parish to pray and promote vocations,” she said. “We know God is calling. We have a listening problem.”
 
Members of vocations ministries must “till the soil” by making parishioners and visitors aware of vocation options and comfortable discerning God’s call for them, she continued.
 
Some suggestions: place a poster of seminarians in a prominent place in the church, include prayers for an increase in vocations in the Prayers of the Faithful at each Mass and make vocation-related materials available in parish book racks.
 
And to reach young people, it is important to reach families. “We need to equip families to talk about vocations,” Gruenewald said. “We need to get to work in age-appropriate ways when families are bringing their children to the parish.”
 
In addition to the ideas presented in her book, she provides a plethora of information on vocations ministry at vocationsministry.com.
 
Rita Baglini of Our Lady of the Snows Church in Waitsfield attended the workshop. “We have to promote vocations,” she said. “This is our faith.”
 
Even in a church like hers where many worshippers are vacationers, a culture of vocations is important so visitors can be inspired to listen to God’s call.
 
Fostering this culture of vocations can be a challenge especially in aging parishes, in the least religious state and in communities where many young people leave to find opportunities, she said.
 
But all parishes — regardless of the number of young parishioners — can be involved in vocations ministry at least with a prayer component. “Do something!” Gruenewald said, saying youth are attracted to the truth, to authentic witness for Christ and to the example of it being lived boldly.
 
Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne thanked participants for their interest in vocations ministry and said he hoped the workshop would “bear [the] fruit” of vocations in their parishes.
 
Father Jon Schnobrich, full-time vocations director for the Diocese of Burlington, offered workshop participants an overview of vocation work in the Diocese including the Totus Tuus summer programs that cultivate a culture of vocations directly and indirectly, his visits to parishes throughout the state to preach about vocations, his visits to Catholic schools, Masses at eldercare homes at which he encourages residents to pray for vocations and summer seminarian assignments in parishes where they are “joyful witnesses” to young parishioners.
 
Children can be inspired to a vocation at any age, Gruenewald said. “We don’t know what we’re going to do to affect vocations in God’s time. We just have to keep tilling the soil.”
 
 
  • 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

Catholic radio now available

“Catholic Radio is up and broadcasting in Burlington, Winooski, Essex and South Burlington! Congratulations to Donna McSoley and all who helped her make this happen,” Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne enthused on social media.
 
The station went live Sept. 29, the Feast of the Archangels.
 
Tune in to WRXJ, 105.5 FM for Our Lady of Perpetual Help Radio, dedicated to helping listeners grow in holiness in Jesus Christ.
 
The low-power radio station is owned by St. Francis Xavier Parish Charitable Trust; it broadcasts from St. Francis Xavier Parish in Winooski.
 
A member of the parish, Donna McSoley, landed a permit with the Federal Communications Commission to build the radio station. She now serves as its president.
 
An Oct. 1 post on the non-profit station’s Facebook page noted, “We are on the air! Tune in to 105.5 FM to hear Our Lady Of Perpetual Help Radio — your prescription for joy.”
 
Our Lady of Perpetual Help Radio’s programming purpose is evangelization and catechesis. Broadcasting from Winooski, it reaches communities in the Burlington area with its signal reaching across Lake Champlain into New York.
 
McSoley said she was relieved, excited and happy to have the station on the air. “I love listening to it in the car,” she enthused. “Now the fun part can start.”
 
She would like to include homilies of local priests, some local programming and talks on topics of Catholic interest and on topics of social issues.
 
Programming currently includes EWTN Live, Mornings with Mother, Sunday Night Prime and Women of Grace. “The EWTN content is so excellent,” McSoley said.
 
Through broadcasting scripture, sound doctrine and pastoral advice, the station is committed to helping listeners understand the Catholic faith, increase hope by preaching truth and bring about the interior conversion that is demanded in the Gospels.
 
According to its website, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Radio Inc. is faithful to the teachings of sacred Scripture, sacred tradition and the magisterium: “We hope that our encouragement will bring people in deeper union with God, and in doing so, strengthen our community. In a world that has lost its way, we offer hope and invite all to know clarity, wisdom and truth through the lens of the Church that Jesus founded, in order to bring it peace, love and light.”
 
“I want to support the Diocese to evangelize and proclaim the Gospel,” McSoley said.
 
For programming information, go to wrxj1055.org/programing.
 
 
  • Published in Diocesan

The bishops of Burlington

Each of the 10 bishops of the Diocese of Burlington has brought unique gifts to his episcopate. Here is a look at each.
 
1. Bishop deGoesbriand, the “founding bishop”
Bishop Louis deGoesbriand was the first bishop of the Diocese of Burlington, which was founded in 1853. When he died in 1899, he left behind a Church that had grown both in number of Catholics number of churches and Catholic schools; by 1891 there were eight academies and 16 parochial schools in the Diocese with seven congregations of women religious to staff them. Five priests had awaited his arrival, and the number of Vermont priests grew to 52 in 1892 thanks to his efforts to foster vocations in Vermont and recruit priests from France, Canada and Ireland. The number of churches increased from 10 to 78 during his episcopacy, and the number of Catholics grew from less than 20,000 to more than 46,000 – most Irish or French-speaking Canadians. “There is no nook, no corner, no hamlet, no village, no town, no city of this Diocese which has not been repeatedly blessed by his presence and his labors,” said a bishop during Bishop DeGoesbriand’s funeral.
 
2. Bishop John S. Michaud, the “builder bishop”
The first native-born priest ordained for the Diocese of Burlington, Bishop John S. Michaud, began his building initiatives in Newport, his first assignment after his 1873 ordination to the priesthood. St. Mary Star of the Sea Church was the first of many construction projects he would oversee in his life. In 1879 Bishop deGoesbriand summoned him back to Burlington to oversee the building of St. Joseph’s Providence Orphan Asylum. Later, he oversaw the building of St. Francis de Sales Church in Bennington before being named coadjutor bishop of the Diocese. His building efforts continued with Fanny Allen Hospital in Colchester and a hospital in St. Johnsbury. It was Bishop Michaud who advocated a bill passed by the Vermont Legislature to make the Diocese of Burlington a legal corporation. By the end of his tenure, there were 100 churches and missions serving 75,000 Catholics.
 
3. Bishop Joseph J. Rice, the “education bishop”
Through the turbulent years that included World War I, a Spanish influenza epidemic, anti Catholicism and The Great Depression, the third bishop of Burlington, Bishop Joseph J. Rice, oversaw the expansion of Catholic education as well as the opening of the deGoesbriand Hospital in Burlington, increased social services and the building of new churches in rural areas of the statewide Diocese. Several Catholic high schools opened during his episcopacy including Cathedral High School in Burlington. In 1925 the Sisters of Mercy opened Trinity College in Burlington. And during the war, the bishop educated his flock about the need for peace. “We are now face to face with the stern realities of war,” he said in a pastoral letter. “Let us now implore the God of mercy and goodness that the scourge of way may cease and that its dreadful but salutary lessons may teach mankind.”
 
4. Bishop Matthew F. Brady, the “short-term bishop”
The fourth bishop of Burlington was the first to be transferred out of the Diocese. Before Bishop Matthew F. Brady became bishop of the neighboring Diocese of Manchester, N.H., he used his six years in Vermont to reorganize Vermont Catholic Charities, organized a Diocesan Schools Office and organized the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine. He had been a Navy chaplain during World War I, and after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941, he offered his prayers and support for the “boys” overseas fighting World War II. He lent his support to the labor union movement. “Let it be clearly understood that the position of the Catholic Church…is unquestionably and unalterably on the side of the laboring man until such time as he does injustice to employers,” he once wrote. He died in Vermont during a congress of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine as the bishop of Manchester in 1959.
 
5. Bishop Edward F. Ryan, “champion of rural churches”
Among the accomplishments of the fifth bishop of Burlington, Bishop Edward F. Ryan, were the reorganizing of societies, establishment of a Vermont edition of the Our Sunday Visitor national Catholic newspaper, encouragement of the development of Catholic youth organizations, bringing religious congregations to Vermont and building more rural churches. A champion of the rural Church, he convened at Camp Holy Cross in Colchester the first Catholic Rural Life Institute in the eastern United States. “The future of the Church in Vermont, as well as in other states, lies not in the urban population but in the rural areas,” he said. At the time, the Diocese invested $300,000 in 14 mission churches and chapels in Vermont. In less than eight years he oversaw the building of 23 churches in rural areas. He also invited religious orders and priests from his native Massachusetts to Vermont to help staff rural parishes.
 
6. Bishop Robert F. Joyce, “Vatican II bishop”
Proctor native and sixth bishop of Burlington Bishop Robert F. Joyce participated in the Second Vatican Council -- convened by Pope John XXIII in 1962 -- and presided over the changes in the Church that resulted from it. Bishop Joyce attended every session of the council. Through his correspondence with his chancellor, Msgr. Louis Gelineau, he kept abreast of what was happening at home and continued to issue orders about the running of the diocese. When the council ended in 1965, he began implementing changes like the celebration of Mass in the vernacular. He celebrated the first television Mass, and Vermont became the third Diocese in the country to give the green light for the celebration of Saturday Vigil Masses. An advocate of interfaith dialogue, Bishop Joyce promoted the reception of the Diocese as an affiliate member of the Vermont Ecumenical Council and Bible Society. “All of the things which the Vatican Council recommended I have tried to establish,” he said. “I call myself a liberal in that measure. I am, however, strongly against changing anything the Church does not recommend.” During his tenure, Bishop Joyce also faced issues relating to the Vietnam War, declining enrollment in parish schools and legalized abortion.
 
7. Bishop John A. Marshall, “the quintessential teacher-bishop”
When Bishop John A. Marshall – once a Catholic high school headmaster in his native Massachusetts --  became seventh bishop of Burlington in 1972, the Church was still feeling the effects of the Second Vatican Council, and it was up to him to see that directives from Rome were implemented and Catholic lay roles and ministries were clarified. In addition, he addressed cultural changes that affected the Church and the Green Mountain State. He taught and spoke out repeatedly and vehemently against abortion, he opposed the Equal Rights Amendment, he championed traditional family values, and he endorsed ecumenical efforts. Other topics he addressed included capital punishment, sexuality, homosexuality, gay rights legislation and the availability of condoms to inmates in Vermont correctional centers. Vermont Catholics were concerned about a myriad of justice issues during the Marshall years: poverty, hunger, homelessness, refugee resettlement, the nuclear arms race and U.S. policy in Central American to name a few. “Only … trust that God loves us can cast out fear and make us strong enough to set aside defensiveness in order to work for peace, to set aside self interest to work for justice, to set aside anger to work for mercy,” he once said. Austere by nature, he taught simplicity of life by his example. He oversaw the sale of the grand brick bishop’s residence, and he moved his quarters to a small, simple apartment in the remodeled Bishop Brady Center, the diocesan headquarters located in a former orphanage in Burlington.
 
8. Bishop Kenneth A. Angell, the “respect life bishop”
Perhaps nothing defines Bishop Kenneth A. Angell’s respect-life attitude as well as his forgiveness of the terrorists whose actions on Sept. 11, 2001, took the lives of his brother and sister-on-law. He celebrated a Mass the next day for all the victims and said he forgave the perpetrators because as a Christian he was told to forgive so he did. Though not unique in his respect-life stand, the eighth bishop of Burlington was often called upon to speak up for the vulnerable. He stood firmly against mandated abortion coverage in health care, began a Diocesan respect life phone tree to procure lobbying of state and national leaders and dedicated himself to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ efforts to “Confront a Culture of Violence.” At his request, the Vermont Knights of Columbus circulated a petition to aid the U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines. He opposed the death penalty and launched a fax campaign to protest the execution of a Vermont native on death row. Another concern he faced was the growing shortage of priests in Vermont; he was instrumental in establishing a House of (vocation) Discernment at the Catholic Center at the University of Vermont and stressed the role of the laity in the life of the Church. In 1996 he oversaw the establishment of a Diocesan Sexual Misconduct Policy, and he dealt with the clergy abuse scandal.
 
9. Bishop Salvatore R. Matano, “bishop of authenticity”
The ninth bishop of Burlington, Bishop Salvatore R. Matano, faced unprecedented challenges as he dealt with the fallout of the priest sex abuse scandal, declining Mass attendance, fewer children in Catholic schools and an ever-increasing clergy shortage. But as he dealt with these issues, he remained steadfast in his devotion to authentic Church teaching. A strong and effective communicator, his priorities were to foster increased participation in the sacraments -- especially the Eucharist -- and to firmly uphold the teachings of the Church. He promulgated Guidelines for the Administration of the Sacraments in the Diocese of Burlington to guide both clergy and laity in the necessary preparations for and proper reception of the seven sacraments and oversaw the implementation of initiatives from Rome such as the Year of Faith and the implementation of a new translation of the Roman Missal. He invited outside priests to serve the Church in Vermont, advocated for the right to life of all persons and worked to uphold the dignity of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. He oversaw programs to protect children and vulnerable adults and the closing and merger of parishes as well as the settlement of lawsuits dealing with allegations of clergy sexual abuse.
 
10. Bishop Christopher J. Coyne, “the blogging bishop”
A former auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, Bishop Christopher J. Coyne already had become known as “the blogging bishop” when he arrived as the 10th bishop of Burlington. Adept at using all forms of social media to educate, inform and inspire, he has strengthened the communications efforts of the Diocese while also increasing staff to work in the areas of evangelization, catechesis, worship and youth and young adult ministry. He instituted the Diocese’s Year of Creation, an intentional, heightened focus on ecological justice featuring various events, initiatives and resources to better educate Vermont Catholics and others and encourage the embracing of Pope Francis’ message in his 2015 encyclical, “Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home.” Bishop Coyne has convened the first Diocesan synod since the 1960s 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. Only two and half years into his leadership role, Bishop Coyne is laying the foundation for a stronger, more engaged Church in Vermont.
 
--Originally published in the Fall 2017 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.
 
  • Published in Diocesan

Promoting parish vocation ministry

Rhonda Gruenewald, a vocation promoter and author of “Hundredfold: A Guide to Parish Vocation Ministry,” will be in Vermont to present a day-long workshop open to all who want to share in this mission to promote vocations in their parishes, but specifically aimed at directors of religious education, catechists and parents. 
 
The workshop will take place at St. Anthony Parish Hall in White River Junction on Saturday, Nov. 4, from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with the option of attending the vigil Mass at 4. 
 
“Following the lead of our local shepherd, Bishop [Christopher] Coyne, and in union with the universal shepherd, Pope Francis -- who called for a Synod this fall to focus on ‘Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment’ -- the Vocation Office is seeking to more intentionally engage young people in Vermont,” explained Father Jon Schnobrich, vocations director for the Diocese of Burlington.
 
Gruenewald, of Houston, also will speak to the priests of the Diocese of Burlington at the annual priest gathering in September. 
 
“Her book proposes a way to build a culture of vocations in a Diocese, beginning at the parish level,” Father Schnobrich said. “Because of the increasing demands on priests, Rhonda's vision seeks to engage the laity in the mission of promoting vocations in a way that relieves a pastor/priest from the tasks of organizing, planning and administrating different vocation events and activities in the parish.”
 
The aim of her book is to inspire laypersons beginning or reviving a vocation ministry or committee and provide tested activities to bring about a culture of vocations in their parish.
 
To find out more about this ministry, go to vocationministry.com.
 
There is no cost to attend the White River Junction workshop, but those who want to attend are asked to RSVP by Oct. 28 to Mallorie Gerwitz in the Vocation Office (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 802-658-6110 ext. 1334).
 
  • Published in Diocesan

Masses for peace, justice in wake of Las Vegas shootings

In the wake of the largest mass shooting in modern American history, Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne has asked Vermont priests to celebrate Masses on the weekend of Oct. 7 “for the preservation of peace and justice.”   
 
On the night of Oct. 1, from a 32nd-floor Las Vegas casino hotel room, Stephen Paddock shot on and off for about 10 minutes at 22,000 concertgoers below at a country music festival; more than 50 died and more than 500 were wounded.
 
Among those killed was Sandy Casey, a graduate of the College of St. Joseph in Rutland.
 
Paddock’s motive is still unknown; authorities believe he killed himself before they arrived at his hotel room.
 
“In light of the terrible tragedy in Las Vegas, I ask that the ‘Mass for the Preservation of Peace and Justice’ (in the Roman Missal) be celebrated at Sunday Mass this weekend,” Bishop Coyne said in an Oct. 3 email notice to all pastors and administrators.
 
While the priests could compose their own Prayers of the Faithful, the bishop suggested these two intercessions:
 
+ “Let us pray for the victims of the mass shooting in Las Vegas. Grant eternal rest to those who have died, healing to those who were wounded and comfort and peace to all their families and friends.”
 
+ “Let us pray for our country, that we may seek to live in peace and harmony with each other in thought, word and deed.”
 

 
 
 

Action for Ecological Justice conference

A former president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States, brought a message of hope to the Diocese of Burlington, telling more than 200 people at a conference on ecological justice that though “we are in the midst of a crisis,” it is important to focus on what can be done to take better care of the Earth.
 
“Our actions do matter, and there are things we can do to make a difference,” said Dr. Carolyn Woo, the keynote speaker at Action for Ecological Justice: Celebrating a Year of Creation, Sept. 30 at St. Michael’s College in Colchester. The Year of Creation is a yearlong, statewide, intentional focus on embracing the message of Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical letter, “Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home.”
 
“Hope is where you believe that action can make a difference,” Woo said.
 
The Catholic Church in Vermont presented the conference, the signature event of the Year of Creation called for by Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne.
 
Among the responses to climate change, which disproportionately affects the world’s poor, Woo suggested responses such as land and crop adaptations, watershed management, alternative farming techniques, alternative crops, water service and community capacity building.
 
She also suggested socially responsible investing with companies that have good ratings for healthy living, clean water, renewable energy, zero waste and disease eradication. “You don’t have to sacrifice [financial] returns,” she added.
 
Woo said there is momentum in the area of clean energy, noting that 21 states score in the top 10 in at least three of the 12 Union of Concerned Scientists metrics that include energy savings, power plant pollution reduction, clean energy jobs and electric vehicle adoption.
 
Vermont is number two in that overall scoring, second only to California.
 
Woo encouraged the creation of “green jobs” in areas such as wind and solar power and sustainable issues, and she asked her listeners to encourage young people to pursue careers in this industry.
 
To reduce carbon emissions in the environment, she suggested the use of wind turbines, plant-rich diets, solar farms, natural family planning, reduced food waste and refrigerant management.
 
Care of the Earth, she emphasized, “transcends politics.”
 
"The state of creation affects everyone. We must work together to create a more sustainable future for all," said Stephanie Clary, manager of mission outreach and communication for the Diocese of Burlington and coordinator of the conference.

Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne opened the conference with a moment of silence for victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. 
 
The daylong conference included various workshops including one titled, “Engaging the Parish: How Do I Invite Others to Join Me,” facilitated by Chris West who directs the Partnership, Training and Engagement Unit of Catholic Relief Services and David Mullin, executive director of Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity in Northwestern Vermont.
 
They emphasized the importance of using inviting language when encouraging others to join in parish ministries, rather than telling people they “should” get involved.
 
Identify, invite, and encourage -- three steps West said bring more people into ministries.
 
Mullin said that if people are “interested in moving a cause forward, expose your passion for it” to attract others to it.
 
In his breakout session, “Can Economics Save the World?” St. Michael’s College Associate Professor of Economics Patrick Walsh asked participants, “Why are we hurting the environment?”
 
Answers included: to accommodate a growing population, because people are disconnected from nature, market forces, cultural and lifestyle expectations, ignorance and greed.
 
A way to explain people’s behavior is to know what incentives they face, he explained.
 
For example, shoppers might shy away from one item that is too expensive, considering “the price told me not to” buy it. But they might purchase a sale item because “the price made me do it.”
 
Incentives for reducing carbon emissions include carbon taxes and limited government permits for carbon emitters. “If it’s costly to ‘go green,’ it’s going to be an uphill struggle,” Walsh said.

Allison Croce, a sophomore at St. Michael's College from Abingdon, Md., said her Catholic faith and her passion for the environment were the reasons she attended the daylong conference. "We all share the Earth, so we should all conserve [resources] and promote justice for all," said the environmental studies major.
 
Musician and songwriter Bob Hurd concluded the day with a variety of songs related to justice, caring for the Earth, the sanctity of life and peace, some based on “Laudato Si’.”
 
He connected Jesus’ living, dying and rising to healing and the glorification of all creation. “Every celebration of the Eucharist acknowledges creation,” he said.
 
Carolyn Meub, executive director of the Rutland-based Pure Water for the World, said attending the conference “really motivated me to look at my own actions because I believe my actions are making a moral statement” – like composting and doing business with ethical companies.
 
Rose-Marie Santarcangelo of Sacred Heart St. Francis de Sales Church in Bennington drove nearly the length of Vermont to attend the conference because of its subject matter. “More people need to be involved…to save this planet,” she said.
 
Lisa Gibbons, a member of St. Francis Xavier Church in Winooski, said the conference offered her a “great opportunity” to bring together two important parts of her life: her Catholic faith and care for the Earth.

"This Diocese is a light to help us understand what a Diocese can do in a holistic way to respond to climate change," Woo told Vermont Catholic. She praised the work being done in parishes and schools to educate, reduce, reuse and recycle and acknowledged the Diocese's efforts to collaborate with other faith groups and government organizations. "This is an inspiring example," she said.

Clary said the conference a success, commenting, "It's encouraging that so many people hold care for creation as an important part of their lives --whether Catholic or not. Hopefully today is just one of many collaborative efforts to work together in caring for our common home."
 
For more information about the Action for Ecological Justice conference, see the Year of Creation website.

 

Edmundite Father Michael Carter ordained

It was a joyful day of smiles, handshakes, hugs and congratulations as newly ordained Edmundite Father Michael Carter entered this new phase of his life in a spirit of hope, expectation and trust in God.
 
Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne ordained him to the priesthood Sept. 16 at the Chapel of St. Michael the Archangel on the campus of St. Michael’s College in Colchester.
 
In remarks at the morning Mass, the bishop reflected on joy, noting that Pope Francis encourages all to be people of joy. “Joy is not a mater of fleeting moments of happiness…but knowing we are in God’s hands even when we are struggling,” he said, noting that the joy of Christians empowers them to do great things. “The joy of the priesthood is knowing we are configured to Christ” while serving others.
 
As a priest, Father Carter’s personal focus will be continuing to build connections with a wide array of people, believers and non-believers, Catholics and non-Catholics. “One of the great mysteries of God is God's ability to work into people's hearts even if they are rigidly opposed to spirituality and religion. I hope I can be a conduit of that journey,” he said. “In keeping with the charism of the Society of St. Edmund, my emphasis is always on those who find themselves marginalized from the Church and from God. It is in the margins that the creative power of God is most fundamentally displayed.”
 
The Society of St. Edmund – celebrating its 175th anniversary – founded St. Michael’s College.
 
In his homily at the ordination Mass, Bishop Coyne explained that though God made His entire people a royal priesthood in Christ, Jesus chose certain disciples to carry out publically, in His name and on behalf of humankind, a priestly office in the Church.
 
“Impart to everyone the Word of God which you have received with joy,” he told Father Carter. “Meditating on the law of the Lord, see that you believe what you read, that you teach what you believe and that you practice what you teach.”
 
He asked that the holiness of the new priest’s life be a “delightful fragrance” to the faithful so that by word and example he may build up the Church.
 
During the Mass, Father Carter publically resolved to care for the Lord’s flock, to worthily and wisely preach the Gospel and teach the Catholic faith and to celebrate the sacraments faithfully and reverently for the glory of God and the sanctification of the Christian people. He also resolved to implore God’s mercy upon the people entrusted to his care and to be united more closely every day to Christ and to consecrate himself to God for the salvation of all.
 
During the Litany of Supplication Father Carter lay prostrate in front of the altar, then, after the Laying on of Hands, Prayer of Ordination and Prayer of Consecration at the ordination, Edmundite Father David Cray, pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Charlotte and St. Jude Church in Hinesburg, assisted Father Carter in his investiture with the stole and chasuble.
 
Father Carter knelt before the bishop who anointed his hands with holy Chrism. He later placed a paten and chalice in the newly ordained priest’s hands. “Know what you are doing and imitate the mystery you celebrate: Model your life on the mystery of the Lord’s cross,” he said.
 
Born in Burlington, the son of Richard M. Carter and Kathleen M. Carter attended Christ the King School through eighth grade then Burlington High School. A member of the St. Michael's College Class of 2012, he earned a bachelor’s degree in religious studies with a minor in political science. He received a master of divinity degree from Boston College in 2016 and worked in the clinical pastoral education program at the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington.
 
He chose the Edmundite priesthood because during his college years he was inspired by the sense of camaraderie and brotherhood the members of the Society of St. Edmund embodied and by the way certain members modeled for him a spirit of justice and activism that he had not encountered before. “Not to in any way downplay the tireless and faithful efforts of priests working in the parishes of the Diocese of Burlington, but for myself as an individual I never discerned that parish ministry was my primary vocation, therefore an order that had parish connection without being specifically a parochial order was intriguing to me,” he said.
 
Father Carter is currently an assistant to Edmundite Father Charles Ranges in the Essex Catholic community, teaches at St. Michael's College and assists in Edmundite Campus Ministry.
 
“Our [Edmundite] foundational ethos is a spirit of education and evangelization, particularly to those who may not otherwise hear of the love of God,” Father Carter said in an interview before his ordination. “Working in education at St. Michael's College, sometimes among a population that has never encountered the love of God, provides ample opportunity for that blessing. Needless to say, my home state of Vermont is mission territory writ large.”
 
Asked about his gifts that he brings to the priesthood, Father Carter said, “I think one is an ability (or at least a desire) to be able to connect with people on a level that makes them comfortable. That means having no preconceived notions, no judgments of any kind and no agenda when speaking with people other than to let them know that they are heard, that they are respected and that they are loved, by both myself and by God. Everything else in ministerial life stems from that.”
 
A sense of humor is also important. “I pride myself on a sense of humor. I take my work and mission seriously, but my own quirks and weaknesses allow me to laugh at myself,” he said. “A ministry without laughter is a ministry doomed to failure.”
 
To men considering the priesthood, Father Carter suggests they see the fun, humor and joy in this life as much as the difficulties and sacrifice: “There are elements of both present, but they should balance each other out.”
 
Also, he calls them to recognize that God loves each person as an individual. “Don't try to be someone or something that you are not. God makes particular demands on God's priests, but one of those demands is not to cease being a distinct and unique individual. It takes all kinds, and there is room in the priesthood for all kinds,” he said.
 
The last ordination for the Society of St. Edmund was in 2014 when Father Lino Oropeza was ordained at St. Michael's College.
 
Father Carter asked that anyone that is concerned about the state of the Church to think seriously about the men in their lives that they think may have a vocation or might make a good priest and mention it to them. “Be it for the Diocese, the Society of St. Edmund or elsewhere, actual talking and contact with people and setting an example is what makes vocations appear real,” he said. “Prayers are wonderful and beautiful, but prayer without action is robbing yourself of the most effective way that God works in the world.”
 
 
 
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