Log in
    

Meet Vermont's newest priest

Father Joseph J. Sanderson grew up in Orwell, two houses down the hill from St. Paul Church. The church was open throughout the day and into the early evening hours, so after long bus rides home from Fair Haven Union High School and cross country practice, he would go up to the church before dinner and homework.
 
At first his visits were brief – maybe five minutes – but over time those visits lengthened. The parish also had Eucharistic adoration on First Fridays that helped him to encounter Christ on a deeper level.
 
It was during these quiet times of prayer at his parish church that he first heard the call to the priesthood.
 
Father Sanderson was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Burlington on June 17 at St. Joseph Co-Cathedral in Burlington.
 
Born in Middlebury on Sept. 18, 1990, he is the eldest of the three children of Jennifer and John Sanderson. “Reciting the rosary together as a family played the biggest role in my journey to the priesthood,” he commented.
 
During high school, he worked at the bottle redemption center in Orwell, a job he enjoyed. “I can't help it, its corny, but now my work will be of another sort of ‘redemption,’” he quipped.
 
As a priest, he hopes that as Christ's instrument, he can bring others to Chris, “that they may experience His deep, abiding, eternal love for them, and in return that they may love Him,” he said. “To be loved by God and to love God in return is our destiny and gives us purpose and ultimate fulfillment.”
 
Father Sanderson entered the seminary after his graduation from high school, having given only slight consideration to a career working for Lego, maker of the toy building bricks he collects.
 
“Christ was the center of my life,” he said. “Through the sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist and Sacrament of Reconciliation, I received Christ's peace, joy and mercy. Once I had encountered Christ, I had a burning desire to share Him not only with those closest to me but with everyone.”
 
Father Sanderson attended Our Lady of Providence Seminary and Providence College, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy. He is finishing his major seminary training at St. John's Seminary in Boston.
 
During summer breaks, he helped with the Totus Tuus summer program for children in Vermont, served in the Bishop’s Fund office and assisted at parishes in Williston, Richmond, South Burlington and Highgate Center.
 
A man who enjoys helping people and making them laugh, Father Sanderson is especially close to St. Therese of Lisieux and St. John the Baptist. “John was quite the character and brought many to Jesus through his voice and humility,” Father Sanderson said. "’I must decrease you must increase’ is a prayer I often say during Mass.”
 
St. Therese has shown him how easy it is to give back to God. “Love Him by giving Him everything, the small things, the everyday things. Any act we do can be an act of love,” he commented.
 
In addition to his Lego hobby, he enjoys biking, hiking cross-country skiing and going to the movies.
 
Father Sanderson tries to emulate the example of goodness and faith his parents have given him and the good example of the priests of the Diocese of Burlington.
 
His advice to those discerning a vocation to the priesthood is to find some quiet time to be with the Lord, to hear His voice. “Be patient with Christ. Find a priest to talk to and ask questions,” he said. “Finally, step out of the boat, as Peter did. Seminary is a time to discover who you are and how Christ may be calling you to love Him and His people.”
 
After his ordination to the priesthood, he looks most forward to celebrating Mass and hearing confessions.
 
“I chose to be a priest for the Diocese of Burlington because Vermont has always been and will always be my home,” Father Sanderson said. “It will be a great honor, privilege and joy for me to serve the people of this great State of Vermont, to labor for souls in this little corner of our Lord's vineyard.”
 
Originally published in the July 1, 2017, The Inland Sea.
 
 
 

Sewing at The Francis Center

A new sewing class at The Francis Center at St. Mark Parish in Burlington is humming along with nine students, all of African heritage.
 
Their reasons for joining the four-Saturday-morning class include making their own clothing, making alterations for themselves and their family members, making gifts and teaching others to sew.
 
One woman, a Muslim, wants to make a hijab for her daughter.
 
“It’s simple” to make the Islamic headscarf, said volunteer sewing teacher Laurie Browne of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Winooski, owner of the Triple Loop costume shop in Essex Junction.
 
“I like to share what I know about sewing,” she continued. “My faith calls me to share those gifts. It’s part of who I am.”
 
The sewing students gather with two teachers and other helpers for two or three hours each week. They speak various languages, and Claudine Nkurinziza of Winooski, one of the sewing students, translates.
 
This is her first time taking a sewing class. “It’s expensive to pay someone to sew your clothes,” she said. “I like the experience of learning and this opportunity to try something new.”
 
Eleven-year-old Jessica Mujawimana, a sixth grader at St. Francis Xavier School in Winooski, is the youngest of the sewing students. “It’s very cool,” she said of her first sewing experience. “I don’t have to ask other people to sew clothes for me.”
 
In some African cultures, men sew as a job, not women.
 
Sharon Brown of St. Francis Xavier Parish, a parish nurse, coordinates CARES Catholic Network, a cooperative health and wellness ministry of St. Francis Xavier Parish and St. Mark Parish with pastors Msgr. Richard Lavalley and Father Dallas St. Peter, respectively. She helps with the class under the CARES umbrella and said some women buy African fabric for $20 for a simple dress then must pay someone about $80 to make it: “The dresses are out of their budget.”
 
At the sewing class, the students work with donated fabric and on donated used sewing machines. Stephen Richer of St. Joseph Co-Cathedral Parish in Burlington, a former Singer Sewing Machine Co. service manager, spent about 30 hours refurbishing the 18 portable machines that were donated in various conditions. “I had the know-how, and they needed someone to do it,” he commented. “If I can help people, I’ll help. It’s how I was brought up in my faith and in my family.”
 
Richer said a new machine would cost more than $100; but the sewing class participants will receive a class sewing machine at the successful completion of the program (one per household).
 
One of the sewing teachers, Marie Boisvert of Christ the King-St. Anthony Parish in Burlington, is an experienced seamstress. “God gave me that talent,” she said. “I give of myself wherever I can.”
 
Jessica, the 11-year-old student, likes the sewing teachers, describing them as helpful, patient and experienced.
 
“It’s nice they are helping everyone no matter our race or religion or background,” Nkurinziza said. “They see us all as people wanting to learn.”
 
Students and volunteers, Brown said, are learning more about what they have in common, not focusing on their differences. “Muslim women are working with Catholic women, holding each other’s children and talking about their shared interest in sewing.” (Childcare is provided.)
 
They are all stitching together friendships and realizing, as Brown said, “We are women. We sew. This is our bond.”
 
For more information or to donate materials or funds, contact Brown at 802-922-2958 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
 
 
 

Obituary: Sister Mary Clare Naramore

Sister of Mercy Mary Clare Naramore, 102, of the Sisters of Mercy Northeast Community, Vermont, died at Mount St. Mary Convent in Burlington on April 12, in her 73rd year of religious life.
 
She was born in Lowell on May 28, 1914, the daughter of Louise (Stephenson) and Donald Naramore. She attended Lowell grade school and Peoples' Academy in Morrisville. She also attended Strayer Business College in Washington, D.C., and graduated from the University of Vermont with a degree in education.
 
Before entering the Sisters of Mercy, she taught in Lowell Village and Westfield schools and worked as a clerk in the Valley Savings Bank.
 
She became a Catholic in 1942; she entered the Sisters of Mercy on Sept. 8, 1944, and made her profession of vows on May 16, 1947.
 
She taught in parochial schools in Burlington, Barre and Montpelier. Following her retirement from education, Sister Naramore served as a volunteer missionary to Matsu, China, for 11 years. When she returned from China, she worked in prison and hospital ministry.
 
She is survived by her nieces, Mary Speroni and Nancy Naramore; a cousin, Irene Hayes; and by her sisters in religion, the Sisters of Mercy. She was predeceased by her parents and her brother, William Naramore.
 
A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated on Tuesday, April 18, 2017, at 11 a.m. in Mount St. Mary Chapel. Visiting hours will be 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. with a prayer service at 7 p.m. on Monday, April 17, at Mount St. Mary's. 
 

Scout Mass

Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne celebrated a special Scout Mass Feb. 26.
 
The scouts received awards in a ceremony after the Mass, and the bishop reminded them about the importance of reverence in scouting.
 
The Catholic Committee on Scouting hosted the celebration at St. Joseph Co-Cathedral.
 
Eight Boys Scouts earned their Ad Altari Dei award:
*Frankie Ellis-Monaghan and Isaiah Ellis-Monaghan from St. Rose of Lima Church in Grande Isle;
*Andrew Koval and Dylan Koval from Holy Angels Church in St. Albans:
*Jeremy Little from Ascension Church in Georgia;
*Richard Cosgrove, Zachary Botala and Andrew Cashmar from St. Peter Church in Vergennes.
 
Also, three adults earned medals:
*David Ely II from St. Joseph Co-Cathedral and Bernie Byrne from St. John the Evangelist Church in Northfield earned their Bronze Pelican;
*Norbert Vogl from Holy Cross Church in Colchester earned his St. George Award.
 
 

Service trip to Honduras

Fran and Dave Mount, parishioners of St. Joseph Co-Cathedral Parish in Burlington, always have been people of faith. There are many ways in which they live and spread that faith. One of the most meaningful ways is their volunteer service in Tela, Honduras.
 
“It’s the right thing to do,” Mr. Mount said. “And it is so rewarding,” his wife added.
 
In February he made his 10th service trip to Honduras; it was her ninth.
 
They travel at their own expense with a Rotary Club of Charlotte-Shelburne group called Hands to Honduras – Tela to work with local tradespeople on various projects like building a dormitory to house 10 pregnant women when they arrive in the city from outlying areas as they near their due date but have no place to stay until they are admitted to the hospital.
 
The Vermont group also has built and equipped a neonatal intensive care unit, created a new-mother training center at the hospital and remodeled the pediatric ward.
 
Most of the building projects are done in four weeks over two years; they are funded through donations, grants and fundraisers
 
This year’s trip took place from Feb. 11-25 and included 47 volunteers, mostly from Vermont, including some medical personnel.
 
The Mounts – retired from the temporary staffing agency they owned – enjoy the service trips. “It’s fun to get my hands dirty,” Mrs. Mount said with a smile.
 
“The local people get involved and do work we don’t know how to do,” Mr. Mount explained.
 
But the couple has come home with new skills over the years. Mrs. Mount has learned about masonry, and her husband can make rebar. “A lot of it is just sheer determination,” she said, noting that sometimes there is no easy access to water, which must be “lugged” to work sites.
 
“We are helping our brothers and sisters in faith,” Mr. Mount said.
 
Through the years the Mounts have taken some family members to Tela with them to help. (They have five children, 16 grandchildren and two great grandchildren.) “It’s important for the kids to see what people can live without and spend two weeks not on their computer or technology,” Mrs. Mount said.
 
In addition to their hands-on work in Tela, the Mounts have established a scholarship fund for high school students there to pay for uniforms, books, supplies and even lunches. The scholarship is for about $250 for each of the 10 students currently receiving the scholarship. “These kids can’t do anything without an education. The country is so poor,” Mrs. Mount said.
 
The scholarships are funded though donations.
 
Mr. and Mrs. Mount are chairs of the Pre-Cana program for the Burlington Deanery; when they give the talk on finances at Pre-Cana programs they emphasize that “money is not everything” and cannot buy happiness, Mr. Mount said.
 
The Mounts spoke of people in Tela, some of whom still use horses and buggies for transportation: “People don’t have much, yet they are very happy people.”
 
“We [Americans] have a really hard time understanding what poverty is about,” he said. “Even ‘poor’ Americans have more [things and comforts] than the middle class in Honduras. And some of that is important to have, like clean water.”
 
In addition to Pre-Cana, the Mounts are involved in Worldwide Marriage Encounter. He is a board member for St. Anne’s Shrine in Isla LaMotte, a member of the finance council at St. Joseph Co-Cathedral and a member of the board for the Vermont Catholic Community Foundation. He is also a mentor for SCORE, previously known as the Service Corps of Retired Executives.
 
Mr. and Mrs. Mount sing in the folk choir at the co-cathedral and are extraordinary ministers of holy communion at the shrine.
 
They support the poor in their local area through their tithing, and when they owned their business, the business supported local charities. “We’ve always been aware of the poor here and sensitive to them,” Mrs. Mount said.
 
“Honduras made us more aware of the basic needs of people,” Mr. Mount added.
 
  • Published in Parish

Stations 'On the Path of Ecological Conversion'

Eric and Vela Bouchard of Island Pond, members of Mater Dei Parish in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, are both park rangers at Brighton State Park, so when they read in their church bulletin that there was going to be “Stations of the Cross with John Paul II: On the Path of Ecological Conversion,” they made plans to drive the 106 miles to Burlington to attend.
 
“We came because of the environmental aspect of it,” Mr. Bouchard said. “Care of the Earth is a passion [of ours].”
 
Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne led the Stations of the Cross at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception; about 50 people attended.
 
After the Stations, there was a sustainable soup supper and discussion of the Lenten practice of fasting and information on the Global Catholic Climate Movement’s Lenten Fast for Climate Justice.

Seasonal soup was donated by New Moon Cafe in Burlington and sustainably sourced bread was donated by O Bread Bakery in Shelburne.
 
The Stations and the program after were part of the Diocese of Burlington’s Year of Creation.
 
The special Stations reflect St. John Paul II’s emphasis on the gravity of the environmental crisis and the urgent need for the Church to respond to its moral and spiritual dimensions. For him, the penitential season of Lent offered “a profound lesson to respect the environment.”
 
At each of the 14 Stations, a scripture verse was read followed by a reflection from Pope John Paul II read by Bishop Coyne such as:
 
“One of the greatest injustices in the contemporary world consists precisely in this:that the ones who posses much are relatively few and those who possess almost nothing are many.  It is the injustice of the poor distribution of the goods and services originally intended for all.”
 
And
 
“There is a growing threat to the environment, to the vegetation, animals, water and air.”
 
The congregation recited a prayer after each reflection, focusing on a pertinent area of ecological justice like energy consumption, global responsibilities, injustice and violence, consumerism, environmental destruction and misguided models of progress.
 
More about “The Stations of the Cross with John Paul II: On the Path of Ecological Conversion” can be found at Year of Creation: Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington.
 
“It’s time we have these awakenings” about the Christian call to care for the Earth, Mrs. Bouchard said.
 
In his presentation on fasting after the Stations, Joshua Perry, director of worship for the Diocese of Burlington, explained different practices of fasting throughout history and said “fasting is related to the call to ecological conversion.”
 
The Church’s practice of fasting has varied according to time and location, but it is not just for Lent, he continued: “Fasting is an important spiritual discipline we can practice to deepen our relationship with God.”
 
Perry explained that fasting is a reminder that people are dependent on God, it allows them to focus on their spiritual selves, it helps them “clear out the clutter” in their lives to better see the presence of God and helps them see the plight of others. Fasting also allows persons to give alms – to use savings from food to do charitable works and stand in solidarity with others.
 
Judy Contompasis of Burlington, who attends The Catholic Center at the University of Vermont, saw the Stations of the Cross promoted on Facebook. "I've always seen part of my faith as taking care of God's creation," she said. "It's beautiful to see an event that connects care for the environment and faith because they are not separate and should not be separated."

Also during the meal, Stephanie Clary, mission outreach and communication coordinator for the Diocese of Burlington, outlined the Global Catholic Climate Movement’s Lenten Fast for Climate Justice in which participants fast and pray for bold action to solve the climate change crisis.
 
Fasting from certain foods, especially meat, she explained, positively affects the planet and the poor. Fifteen percent of greenhouse gas emissions are caused by meat consumption, Clary noted, and producing one pound of meat requires about 1,800 gallons of fresh water.
 
“We have to care for…the Earth God has created,” she encouraged.
 
For more information, visit mercy2earth.org/lent.
 
 
 

The future of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

The last Sunday Mass celebrated at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Burlington was on Jan. 1, the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God, but there continues to be five daily Masses, confessions, First Friday Eucharistic Adoration with the Divine Mercy Chaplet and daily rosary there as well as ministry to the poor, the homeless and the addicted.
 
“At some point the cathedral will be merged” with St. Joseph Co-Cathedral Parish, said Father Lance W. Harlow, rector of both, noting that there has not been religious education at the cathedral since the 2010-2011 academic year, and there are no young families with children in the parish.
 
“The two parishes are not merged in a canonical sense. This is the process towards which we are working now,” Father Harlow said.
 
Parishioners of both parishes have been working cooperatively since the unexpected 2011 death of Msgr. Thomas Ball, rector of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, when due to the shortage of priests, one rector had to take responsibility for both the cathedral and St. Joseph Co-Cathedral.
 
“We knew this was coming after Msgr. Ball’s death,” said Bill LaCroix, a member of the finance and parish councils at Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. “People are sad to see it go.”
 
The cathedral has been the “seat of the diocese, the bishop’s church, and there has been a lot of pride in that,” he said after a Jan. 22 regular Sunday Mass at St. Joseph Co-Cathedral celebrated by Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne.
 
Father Harlow outlined three factors that contribute to the immanent merger.
 
The most critical factor is insufficient income from collections to pay bills. “We are running at almost $3,000 below what we need to collect every week. This is forcing us to take out money from our investment account to pay operating expenses resulting in a deficit, which increases about every three months,” he said. “It is like a snowball getting larger and larger as it rolls downhill. Because our attendance is so low, there is no way we can generate enough income to pay our bills. By merging with St. Joseph, we will be able to share resources.”
 
The low attendance reflects the situation of downtown Burlington. The area in which the cathedral is located is no longer a residential area; it has become more commercial. As a result, the family neighborhoods that were there in the 19th Century no longer exist.
 
Over the past 30 years Mass attendance has dropped by more than 1,000 parishioners, which is similarly reflected in other churches, Father Harlow said. In the past 10 years, there were many years in which there were no marriages or baptisms; even the number of funerals has declined.
 
The third contributing factor the rector noted is that when Mass schedules had to be altered six years ago because there were not enough priests to maintain the old schedule, parishioners would not make the changes and went to other churches or stopped attending. “We now live in an era where one is attached more to his or her Mass time than to his or her parish,” he said.
 
LaCroix, a lifelong parishioner of the cathedral parish, lamented that many cathedral parishioners attend Masses at other area churches.
 
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception has 275 registered parishioners. “It has been very difficult to provide altar servers, lectors and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion because of the ‘personnel’ shortage,” Father Harlow explained.
 
According to him, parishioners have reacted to the changes that have occurred and those to take place in a variety of ways: Some have related that they knew there were financial problems for many years, but were in denial about it. Others have said that they should not have built the current cathedral after the previous one burned down in 1972. Others would like to see it stay open, but have no viable means of providing income for it. Others for sentimental purposes would like to see it stay open, but do not attend any Masses there and have “no meaningful connection with the Church,” he said.
 
The plan for the future is to ask authorities in Rome for permission to merge Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception with St. Joseph Co-Cathedral. “If that is accepted, then St. Joseph Co-Cathedral would be designated as the cathedral for the diocese,” Father Harlow said. “There is no current plan for the present [cathedral] building as we do not know how long the merger process will take.”
 
Any plan for keeping the building open must take into consideration that the bare minimum need just to pay insurance and utility bills is $85,000 a year—with no viable source of revenue, he continued. “In the meantime, we continue with our schedule with the knowledge that we cannot sustain it for much longer. It will close eventually, but there is no plan for the property as of yet until we have more information.”
  • Published in Diocesan

Salvation Army dinners

University of Vermont students are responding to the Gospel command to serve others by preparing and serving dinners at the Salvation Army in downtown Burlington.
 
Twice a month during the school year students prepare and serve mixed vegetable salad and macaroni and cheese with ham; the Salvation Army provides the dessert.
 
They do the prep work on Thursday evenings at the Catholic Center, then return for cooking and final preparations before heading to the Main Street meal site to serve the meal; they plan to serve about 120 people in need.
 
“There is definitely a heart for service at UVM,” said Father Dwight Baker, director of the Catholic Center. The students “definitely witness to our faith in Christ and put our faith into action.”
 
During any given week during the school year, an average of about 20 students are involved in the meal program sponsored by the Catholic Center.
 
Nora Ghostlaw, a senior from Hanover, Mass., majoring in elementary and special education, has been involved in preparing meals for the Salvation Army since the end of her first year at the university. “When I first signed up to help cook and serve, I thought it would be a great way to not only get further involved in the Catholic Center but also a great way to give back to the Burlington community,” she said. “The guests that come through are so appreciative of the meal that we serve, and it is an amazing feeling to play a small part in helping the Salvation Army.”
 
Students from the center have been cooking and serving meals at the Salvation Army for about 10 years; for about eight years before that they served only.
 
Funds for the meals come from a grant from the Bishop deGoesbriand Appeal, supported by the parishes of the Diocese of Burlington.
 
The cheese for the macaroni and cheese is donated, and sometimes the pasta is too.
 
“Living on a college campus can seem like living in a bubble at times, with practically everything you need at your fingertips, but going out into Burlington and serving at the Salvation Army can really pop that bubble,” Ghostlaw said. “It is very easy to get caught up in the busyness of college life, but it is important to always take a step back to see what is happening in the world around you. I think as Catholics we are called to serve others in the likeness of Jesus and out of the goodness of our hearts, and we are so fortunate to have the amazing opportunity to do just that at the
 
Salvation Army.”
 
Taking time out of a busy schedule to cook and serve a meal “is a great way to take a step back and think about what we are really here for,” she said. “I think it can help put things in life into perspective for students.”
 
  • Published in Schools
Subscribe to this RSS feed
Bishop's Fund Annual Appeal