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‘Outcasts’ to be screened

On Thursday, Sept. 28, at 7:30 p.m., there will be a special screening of “Outcasts” by Grassroots Films in the Grand Maple Ballroom of the Davis Center at the University of Vermont. “Outcasts” is a powerful new documentary from Grassroots Films that shows the work of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal as they serve the poor in some of world’s toughest neighborhoods. This moving film depicts the realities of life as experienced by drug addicts, women engaged in prostitution, people dying of AIDS, prisoners and others in desperate situations –- along with the efforts of the Franciscan Friars to share hope in Christ with them. 
 
In addition to the film, there will be time for questions for friars and one of the film’s producers and to learn about ways to get involved in outreach to those in need in the local community.
 
Prior to the screening, there will be a Holy Hour with the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal at the Catholic Center at the university at 6 p.m.
 
The event is co-sponsored by Joseph’s House, the Catholic Center and the Catholic Student Association at the university. Tickets are required for the event and can be picked up at The Catholic Center, Davis Center and the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
 
For more information, call 802-951-4290 or 802-862-8403 or visit outcaststhemovie.com.
 
 

Solidarity with refugees, immigrants

The Catholic Center at The University of Vermont in Burlington hosted a Feb. 23 evening of prayer in solidarity with the 65 million refugees and immigrants throughout the world.
 
At a time of uncertainty for those seeking refuge and peace in the United States, students wanted to take a stand. Participants in the vigil were able to light a candle, say a prayer, write a message to the refugees in the community or send a letter to a politician.
 
Brianna O’Brien, a senior environmental studies major and an organizer of the event, sought to create a space for those who regularly attend Mass and events at the Catholic Center and for others to stand together, grow in empathy and have an opportunity to reflect on “the reality of the plight of millions of refugees and even more immigrants all over the world.”
 
Between 30 and 50 people attended. 
 
“I have been fortunate to travel quite a bit and have had the opportunity to hear and see foreigners’ perspectives of the United States and the desire that so many people have to come here,” O’Brien said. “I have seen first hand some of the situations that people are trying to escape, and it is heart-breaking to me.”
 
She understands foreign policy and immigration laws are not simple issues, “but recent political events have shed light on the plight of these struggling people,” she said. “I took this to be an appropriate time to host this vigil.”
 
O’Brien said it is important to stand in solidarity with refugees because “there is so little we can do to help.” But standing together saying, “I care about you,” “This issue matters to me,”  “Your safety and health are important to me” is, for her, a way to demonstrate that the “dignity of these peoples’ lives is something that we have concerned ourselves with in some capacity.” 
 
 
 

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.”
 
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