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A new chapter set to begin in life of former St. Joseph School in Burlington

The next chapter in the life of the former St. Joseph School is unfolding.
 
Champlain Housing Trust -- a non-profit organization that creates and preserves affordable housing -- plans to purchase the Allen Street building for $2 million and ensure its continued use for community programs.
 
The building was once a parochial school attached to St. Joseph Parish.
 
“In the six years that have elapsed since 2010 [when the school closed], the expenses have continued to climb, trying to maintain the old building in good condition, so the decision to offer it up for sale to the Champlain Housing Trust proved mutually agreeable and beneficial to both parties,” said Father Lance Harlow, rector of St. Joseph Co-Cathedral and Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception parishes. “The building will continue to serve families in the North End of the city which has always been its purpose.”
 
Since the school closed, the building has been used for various activities such as a children’s center, an association of Africans, a parent-child center, indoor events and a theater.
 
The parish has used the building for religious education classes and various church functions.
 
There was Catholic education in St. Joseph Parish even before the construction of the school. In 1863, the Daughters of the Heart of Mary (also known as the Ladies of Nazareth) arrived in Burlington and taught students in a woodshed until 1864 when they opened their school and convent on Gough Street, near North Prospect and Archibald Street.
 
In 1869, the sisters built another school, the first Nazareth School on Allen Street, for the younger children. They ran both schools until they merged in 1924 on Allen Street.
 
“The current building was enlarged in 1929 and was called the Ecole Nazareth, presumably in honor of the Ladies of Nazareth,” Father Harlow explained. “In 1961, the name was changed to St. Joseph School simply for administrative purposes.”
 
St. Joseph School operated under the supervision of the Ladies of Nazareth until 1943 then under the charge of the Daughters of the Holy Spirit until 1983.
 
“Decreasing enrollment over the course of several decades, decreased numbers of religious teaching sisters, higher salaries for lay employees and difficulties meeting expenses finally resulted in the closing of the school in 2010,” he continued.
 
 
While the building no longer functioned as a school since its closing, classroom space was leased to various non-profits.
 
“The parish is greatly indebted to the valiant religious sisters, brothers, priests and laity who devoted their lives to the education of the children in downtown Burlington,” Father Harlow said. “And while buildings come and go throughout the course of human history, the heroism of those who made history in those buildings remains to be told from one generation to the next.”
 
The Champlain Housing Trust is leasing the building until June at which point it must pay in full. “The impending sale of the school has brought financial relief for the co-cathedral and will enable it to direct its resources to other projects,” Father Harlow said.
 
  • Published in Parish

Teachers, catechists honored at Year of Mercy celebration

BURLINGTON—More than 100 teachers and catechists attended the Jubilee for Catechists and School Teachers at St. Joseph Co-Cathedral on Sept. 18 to honor, bless and celebrate Catholic educators and their selfless call to teach young people about the love and mercy of God.
 
“I have been very moved by this Year of Mercy in our diocese,” said Sister of Mercy Laura DellaSanta, principal of Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington. She appreciates how the people of the Diocese of Burlington come together for the special monthly events that recognize, affirm and pray for people involved in various ministries. “It unites us and strengthens us.”
 
Among those in attendance at the celebration for educators were Catholic school teachers and administrators, parish religious educators, directors of religious education, home schooling parents and students.
 
Following the celebration at the co-cathedral, attendees enjoyed refreshments and displays shared by various schools and parishes that represented aspects of their curriculum dedicated to passing on the Catholic faith.

For more information about the Jubilee for Catechists & School Teachers click here.
 
  • Published in Diocesan

Pre-school connects love of God with teachers, parents, students

While some children napped in a dimly lit classroom at St. Edward's Preschool, others, across the hall, drew and practiced printing their ABC's.

Theresa Forbes, the director as well as a teacher, listened to the boys and girls recite the letters after they had traced them with a marker on a preprinted sheet.

There are 23 children ages three to five enrolled at the school, and eight elementary-age children are enrolled for pre-school and/or after-school care. Not all are there everyday.

They are under the care of two full-time and two part-time teachers; the teacher-student ratio is usually 1:7.

"I pride myself on hiring dedicated teachers that model and demonstrate respect and love of self and others," Forbes said. "They model the Lord's 'Golden Rule' to love one another, and the Lord gets the credit for their personal talents."

Vocationist Father Patrick I. Nwachukwu, administrator of Mater Dei Parish, which includes St. Edward Church in Derby Line, said his hope for the school is that children will "be good Catholics and good Christians, solid in faith and morals."

He also wants them to be good citizens "who can be responsible and trustworthy" with bright futures and promising careers.

The children spend the morning separated by age groups: 3 and 4 and 4 and 5. They are combined for the afternoon, after some have had a nap.

Amy Frizzell Sherlaw of Derby has sent her children to St. Edward's Preschool since it opened; she has four children, and three of them have gone or are currently enrolled at St Edward's. The youngest is two and will go when he is old enough.

A member of Plymouth Congregational Church in East Charleston, she attended a Catholic college and taught at a Catholic school. "The quality of education that you receive at a Catholic school is second to none," she said. "I wanted my children to attend preschool in a safe, welcoming, learning environment. I wanted to be sure that they would be respected and valued. I wanted them to learn academically but also socially. We found such a place at St. Edward's Preschool. It offered all of these things and is close to my home. St. Edward's was the right fit for my family."

St. Edward's Preschool is a licensed preschool program that operates under the guidelines/requirements of the State of Vermont. The curriculum corresponds with the state standards, and the child-assessment system used is Teaching Strategies Gold.

By using this combination of educational objectives and developmental domains, teachers can enhance/encourage proper developmental growth that fits each child's learning style.

Their education focuses on areas that include social-emotional growth, language development, cognitive skills, literacy, math, science, technology and social studies.

"The local schools have said we have done well preparing them for kindergarten," Forbes said.

"My children are well prepared for kindergarten both academically and socially," Sherlaw said. "When they left preschool they could identify their numbers and letters. They could match numeral to quantity and knew the sounds each letter makes. They built lasting friendships and were well prepared" for kindergarten.

St. Edward's Preschool opened in the St. Edward Parish Hall in 2007; Forbes and then-pastor Father Yvon Royer founded it after Sacred Heart School in Newport closed. Forbes had been a pre-school teacher there. "Parents wanted a private, full-day program," she said.

"The Lord has a plan and purpose for each one of us. I always pray that He places children and families in our program that He knows need our teachers' faith and love not just our educational skills," said Forbes, a parishioner of Mater Dei Parish St. Mary Star of the Sea Church in Newport. "In a world with much pain, sorrow and demands, we all need the Lord's guidance, prayers and mercy."

Jesus' love for everyone is emphasized at St. Edward's, where children are taught to love and accept everyone. "They are all shining stars and all special," she said of her students. "They are all God's children."

"Our program may only be a small part of our students' lives, but through encouragement, respect, hope and love we become a significant part of the Lord's plan," she said. "As director, I look at our priests and sisters as spiritual leaders. When we work together with our teachers and parents, we can make the connection of the word of God and love of Christ."

Melissa Scherer of Newport has one child in the preschool. "The education students receive is extraordinary," she said. "They not only receive standards-based education but Christian values as well."

Sister of Mercy Laura Della Santa, superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Burlington, said it is important to have a Catholic preschool in as many areas of the state as possible. "It plants the seeds of faith, love and knowledge of Jesus that we hope the children will continue to develop," she said.

For more information about St. Edward's Preschool, call (802) 873-4570.
  • Published in Diocesan
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