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Immaculate Conception Chapel

For Stephen E. Ticehurst, director of maintenance working in the Facilities and Insurance Department at the headquarters of the Diocese of Burlington in South Burlington, one of the happiest times of his life was transforming a room in the office building into a chapel. “I was just honored to be part of bringing a space to our employees where they could sit, reflect and be closer to God,” he said.
           
Employees had attended weekday Mass in a chapel at the former diocesan headquarters, The Bishop Brady Center on North Avenue in Burlington, before it was sold to Burlington College in 2010.
           
The Immaculate Conception Chapel at the current diocesan office building at 55 Joy Drive, is adorned with 11 windows: Two came from the St. Peter’s Chapel salvaged from the old Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception that burned; nine are from Holy Trinity Church in Danby.
           
“The larger windows are what is called museum-style glass, and the two smaller windows are traditional leaded stained glass,” Ticehurst explained.
           
The windows bear various symbols including the Sacred Heart of Jesus and a Christogram -- a symbol for Christ, consisting of the Greek letters chi (Χ) and rho (Ρ).
           
Ticehurst installed the windows between September and December 2014.
He restored broken glass and cleaned, repaired and repainted the frames. He built custom frames to fit the existing windows and custom milled and stained the woodwork to match the rest of the chapel.
           
“By installing the windows, there are no ‘outside’ distractions of the world,” Ticehurst said. “It brings you to a place of calm and peace, a chance to stop and be one with our Lord Jesus, to sit and reflect in a welcoming space.”
           
The windows make the room darker “so you naturally have a sense to whisper, to breath, to stop and take time to talk to God,” he continued. “As I built the chapel, it became more and more like a chapel: darker, more peaceful, less of an office space more like God’s space.”
           
Christina Holmes, accounts payables/accounts receivables manager for the Diocese of Burlington, tries to attend Mass in the chapel at less twice a week. “I think that it is wonderful to have Mass at the workplace because when I was growing up I never went to Mass during the week only if it was a holy day,” she said. “Also it is wonderful because if you need some quiet time to just go and pray during the day you can go in to the chapel anytime to do that.”
           
Confessions are heard in the chapel, and the diocese’s televised Mass is taped there.
           
Daily Mass is celebrated in the chapel on most workdays at noon, and the public is welcome to attend.
 
 
  • Published in Diocesan

Care regardless of ability to pay

Vermont Catholic Charities Inc. provides quality care in its four eldercare residences regardless of a resident’s ability to pay.
 
In 2015, 77 percent of the residents received Medicaid.
 
“Our mission is to provide residents with a safe, caring and homelike environment where they can enjoy a pleasant living experience rooted in Christian dignity,” said Mary Beth Pinard, executive director of Vermont Catholic Charities. “For private pay residents, if they convert to Medicaid, they can stay with us and in their same room.  This isn’t the case every facility. Some facilities require residents to move once they have moved from private pay to Medicaid.”
 
Michaud Memorial Manor in Derby Line has 33 beds; Loretto Home and St. Joseph Kervick Residence in Rutland have a total of 107 beds including Loretto Home’s special care unit for residents assessed with higher physical and/or cognitive limitations. St. Joseph’s Residential Care Home in Burlington has 41 beds.
 
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington provides rent-free use the four residential care homes totaling $1.35 million annually because “our social mission is to care for the sick, the poor, the elderly regardless of their ability to pay,” pointed out Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne. “As Catholics, we are all called to put our faith into action and follow in the footsteps of Jesus.”
 
According to Jeanne Schmelzenbach, administrator of Loretto Home and St. Joseph Kervick Residence, 83 percent of the residents cannot afford the private pay rate and are subsidized by Catholic Charities. “This number has been increasing steadily over the past several years.” It was about 75 percent in 2014.
 
“We pride ourselves on providing exceptional resident care to all residents regardless of their ability to pay,” said Mary Belanger, administrator of St. Joseph’s Residential Care Home. “All our residents are provided the care and services that they need to thrive.”
 
The homes’ commitment to the dignity of all people comes from the Gospel, Catholic Charities and founders of the homes.
 
“Our commitment comes from the belief that we as a Catholic institution, give back to the residents in need with an open heart,” Belanger added.
 
“Our goal is to provide a homelike environment where everyone can enjoy a pleasant living experience and receive the assistance they need,” Schmelzenbach said.
 
The residential care homes provide personal care, general supervision, medication management and nursing overview to persons unable to live wholly independently but are not in need of the level of care provided in nursing homes.
 
According to Anne Steinberg, administrator of Michaud Memorial Manor, because of Vermont Catholic Charities dedication to serving those in need, the home is fortunate to be able to care for an unusually high number of Medicaid recipients – about 70 percent at Michaud. “The rate of reimbursement that Medicaid provides is relatively low, making it pretty cost prohibitive for most homes to accept a large percentage of Medicaid residents,” she said. “I feel very blessed to work for an organization that recognizes the importance of opening our doors to all those in need, regardless of payer source.”
 
“The Medicaid reimbursement helps us care for residents with higher care needs without needing to transfer them to a nursing home,” Belanger said, adding that the reimbursement helps but it is not enough to care for all the people in need in the community.
 
The Catholic Charities-run homes are fully licensed by the Vermont Division of Licensing and Protection as Level III Residential Care Homes. 
 
Medicaid provides about one third of the actual cost of caring for a resident.
 
“Catholic Charities and fiscal management of the homes enable us to support this underserved segment of our population,” Schmelzenbach said.
 

Father Luke Austin's call to priesthood

“I was interested in some form of government service, but as God methodically drew me to my vocation, He was calling me to another form of service and another way to love,” said Father Luke Austin.
 
The pastor of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary-St. Louis Parish in Swanton and Highgate Center said it was a challenge ending an approximate 2-year relationship, but he did not miss the law when he decided to enter the seminary. “There was, at the same time, a growing feeling of freedom to make such a decision.”
 
Asked to share his vocation story with Vermont Catholic readers, Father Austin offered his thoughts not only on his own vocation but ways to encourage men toward the priestly life.
 
His parents, Pauline and the late Dr. David Austin Sr., were raised in Vermont and attended Catholic schools; they met in Burlington.
 
When Father Austin was in kindergarten, he would “play priest,” and his grandmother’s housekeeper sewed him some “vestments.”
 
“But the funny thing is that I never considered it as something I would be when I grew up,” he said.
 
He attended Christ the King School and Mount St. Joseph Academy in Rutland, graduating in 1994; he treasures his Catholic school experience. He graduated from Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., in 1998, majoring in government and obtained a law degree from George Washington University Law School in Washington, D.C., in 2002.
 
It wasn’t until the end of law school that he first considered the priesthood as a real possibility. “The [clergy sex abuse] scandals had broken in Boston, and I was thinking about all the good priests and nuns who had a cloud of suspicion because of all the uncertainty,” he said.
 
He spoke with his university chaplain, who then became the vocations director for the Archdiocese of Washington, and he encouraged the young man to stay in touch as he entered to workforce.
 
Before entering the seminary, Father Austin worked as a legislative correspondent for the Senate Judiciary Committee and had various summer clerkships in at prosecutor’s offices in the Washington area. He worked as an attorney on contract basis for the Department of the Interior.
 
The Washington vocation director encouraged him to become more involved in his parish, attend vocations events and see a spiritual director. “After peppering my spiritual director was all sorts of questions and running out of them, he said to me: ‘so what are you waiting for?’ At that point, I knew I had to speak to someone back in Vermont, just to make sure God wasn’t calling me there,” Father Austin continued. “But after speaking with a number of Vermont priests, I felt the sense of community and greater need in Vermont, and through that, my call to diocesan priesthood here. I am grateful God called me back home!”
 
He had no one role model, but talking to a number of priests played a role in his discernment to first enter seminary. He contends “the call” is best described as “living out God’s specific grace given to us at baptism, lived out in a certain time and place.”
 
After attending Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., he attended North American College in Rome and studied canon law at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.
 
Ordained in 2010, Father Austin has served churches in Manchester Center, Arlington, St. Johnsbury, Lyndonville and Danville.
 
Father Austin, who enjoys reading and skiing, is now judicial vicar for the Diocese of Burlington.
 
He advises men considering the priesthood to speak to their parish priest. “You need to talk to someone about it, because chances are, the questions you have are the same that your parish priest had,” he said.
 
He tries to encourage vocations to all callings, not just priesthood. “I ask my confirmation students if they have asked God what His plan is for their lives,” he said.
 
He also planned a Chalice Prayer Program in which each week a family takes a chalice home as a centerpiece for daily prayer for different vocations.
 
“As much as government service or a wife and children would be a beautiful thing, I know my family is the Church,” Father Austin said.
 
 
  • Published in Diocesan

St. Therese Digital Academy grants

The Diocese of Burlington’s St. Therese Digital Academy, an online Catholic high school with a rigorous program grounded in the Catholic faith, has received two grants totaling $116,000 to support the development of a digital learning platform, curriculum and marketing.
 
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Catholic Communications Campaign awarded $96,000 and Our Sunday Visitor awarded $20,000 to provide access to a Catholic education to families limited by geography and for Catholic formation courses and catechism education for children and adults.
 
"This support will provide us with the resources necessary to develop Catholic formation courses for Catholics young and old who desire to continue to grow in their knowledge of our Catholic faith beyond the traditional means. Faith formation is no longer hindered by conflicting work, school or extra-curricular schedules," said Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne. "We want to reach out to people and provide as many options as possible to grow in their faith; to do so we must embrace technology."
 
The academy works with parents in their roles as primary educators by offering an online Catholic high school with flexible options to assist in their child’s education while also providing weekly local opportunities for enrichment courses, community service projects and social and spiritual formation.
 
“This format of a Catholic high school overcomes the obstacles of no Catholic school nearby. We are serving military families whose children would otherwise not be able to have access to a Catholic education such as Okinawa, Japan,” said Lisa Lorenz, superintendent of Catholic schools for the Diocese of Burlington and principal of the digital academy. 
 
The school’s goal is to develop well-grounded disciples of Jesus Christ who possess 21st-Century skills that equip them to fulfill their roles as members of the Body of Christ within today’s society.
 
This spring plans call for offering classes to students at Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington who need specific classes to meet their requirements or are in need of advanced classes.
 
“We will be offering to our smaller high schools that cannot afford to have a large variety of courses this online format as a supplement to the rigors of their already in-person classes,” Lorenz said, referring to Mount St. Joseph Academy in Rutland and St. Michael High School in Brattleboro. “We even have students taking classes merely for enrichment. Our hopes are that we can also aid those families who may not be able to send their children to Catholic schools but really would like to have their child continue growing in the faith by studying theology classes.”
 
In addition, there will be adult theology classes for ongoing catechesis. “All of this can and will be built with the funding made possible by Our Sunday Visitor and the USCCB,” Lorenz said.
 
She has been speaking at parishes about the digital academy and has found it is met with enthusiasm, support and a sense of hope for Catholic education being restored in their communities in a 21st-Century model.
 
“Without the funds this endeavor would be impossible,” Lorenz said. “It will permit Catholic education to reach beyond brick and mortar, as well as being able to offer a more affordable Catholic high school.”
 
St. Therese Digital Academy currently enrolls five students.
 
There are three other Catholic high schools in the Diocese of Burlington: Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington, Mount St. Joseph Academy in Rutland and St. Michael High School in Brattleboro.
 
For more information about the digital academy, go to stdavt.org.
 
 
  • Published in Schools

2017: "Year of Creation"

Diocese to observe 2017 as "Year of Creation"

Similar to the global Year of Mercy announced by Pope Francis last year which entertained a heightened focus on the role of mercy in the Catholic faith, the diocesan wide Year of Creation will entertain an intentional, heightened focus on ecological justice. Various events, initiatives and resources will be made available to parishes and Catholic schools to better educate on and encourage the embracing of Pope Francis’ message in his 2015 encyclical, “Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home.”
 
This is the second encyclical of Pope Francis. It is addressed to "every person living on this planet" for an inclusive dialogue about how people are shaping the future of the created world. He calls everyone to acknowledge the urgency of pursuing ecological justice and to join him in embarking on a new path based in integral ecology.
 
Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne invites all Catholics to join with him in celebrating this “Year of Creation” in the diocese.
 
He noted the pope’s emphasis that concern for the created world is not optional, but an integral part of Church teaching on social justice. “While it has been nearly two years since its publication, I think it is time for the Church here in Vermont to study, ponder and begin to implement much of what the pope calls for” in the document, the bishop said.
 
The diocese also has formed a partnership with Commons Energy that allows for low-cost energy efficiency audits and energy efficiency/renewable energy projects on many church-owned buildings throughout the state. Within the first two months of the year, fifteen buildings have requested to begin the energy efficiency audit process.
 
Additionally, one of the first steps the Diocese of Burlington has taken at 55 Joy Drive in South Burlington, the diocesan headquarters, to counteract a "throwaway culture" and set an example of ecologically responsible practices is to adopt the practice of composting—a simple way to support circular models of production and consumption.
 
“Vermont’s 118,000 Catholics can make a sustainable impact on the state of the created world and its creatures. Furthermore, if the Diocese of Burlington’s Year of Creation is successful in raising awareness of and action toward ecological justice, it can serve as an encouraging example for other Catholic dioceses and communities of faith throughout the country and the globe. There are an estimated 1.2 billion Catholics on Earth—just think of what could be achieved if we committed to caring for the created world together,” said Stephanie Clary, mission outreach and communication coordinator.
 
A Year of Creation Committee comprised of scientists, activists and people of faith has been formed to assist with this initiative. Committee members include:
  • Brian Tokar, Lecturer in Environmental Studies at the University of Vermont and a board member of 350Vermont and the Institute for Social Ecology 
  • David Mullin, Executive Director of Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity
  • Dcn. Phil Lawson, Director of the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington
  • Ellen Kane, Executive Director of Development and Communications for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington and the Vermont Catholic Community Foundation
  • Fr. Thomas Houle, OFM Cap., Pastor of St. Peter Church in Rutland (first parish in the diocese to adopt renewable energy) and St. Alphonsus Church in Pittsford
  • Betsy Hardy, Coordinator for Vermont Interfaith Power and Light
  • James Ehlers, Executive Director of Lake Champlain International 
  • Stephanie Clary, Mission Outreach and Communication Coordinator for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington
  • Mary Quinn, RSM, Co-Director of Mercy Farm Eco-Spiritual Center in Benson 
  • Marybeth Christie Redmond, a writer-journalist and communications professional for global and local non-profit organizations  
  • Joseph Gainza, Producer and Host of “Gathering Peace” on WGDR and WGDH 
  • Gina Fiorile, a junior at the University of Vermont studying environmental studies and public communications 
  • Maura Thompson, a senior at Rice Memorial High School, involved in Campus Ministry and Global Unity and Solidarity Group

The committee will be working an awareness campaign and events throughout the year, including:
  • Spring issue of Vermont Catholic dedicated to Year of Creation;
  • "The Stations of the Cross with John Paul II: On the Path of Ecological Conversion" and Global Catholic Climate Movement's Lenten Fast for Climate Justice on March 3;
  • Statewide Catholic schools care for creation education, prayer and action project on April 12;
  • "Mercy for Our Common Home" evening prayer and "green parish" roundtable discussion for Mercy2Earth Weekend on April 23;
  • Year of Creation Conference with keynote speaker Dr. Carolyn Woo in September;
  • “Laudato Si’ in the Parish” training program offered to pastors, deacons, catechists;
  • Vermontcatholic.org/yearofcreation webpage with resources for parishes and anyone interested in learning more. 
 
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Updated: 02.07.17
  • Published in Diocesan

Vermont Catholic parishes actively involved in social justice ministries

Mindful of the words of the Lord: “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another”(Jn 13:35), Christians can yearn for nothing more ardently than to serve the people of this age successfully with increasing generosity. Holding loyally to the Gospel, enriched by its resource, and joining forces with all who love and practice justice, they have shouldered a weighty task here on earth and they must render an account of it to him who will judge all people on the last day.
--"Gaudium et Spes" (“The Church in the Modern World”), Vatican II, 1965 #93


A recent survey of parish social justice activities reveals that Vermont Catholics are serving others with untold generosity.  There are 73 parishes in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington and more than 100 active churches.
 
From visiting the sick and imprisoned, to assisting the homeless to feeding the hungry, the people of Vermont parishes are contributing thousands upon thousands of dollars in volunteer services to people in need throughout the state. 
 
Based on the survey, 96 percent of responding parishes participate in feeding the hungry either by donations to a local food shelf, managing their own food pantry, serving meals at the parish hall or food drives. Most parishes support multiple ministries: 89 percent poverty; 83 percent illness/infirm; 66 percent homeless; 30 prison and 29 percent other. Parishes support and partner with more than 155 organizations throughout Vermont to volunteer, donate goods and money.

Father Yvon Royer, pastor of St. Peter Church in Vergennes and St. Ambrose Church in Bristol, said the various ministries parishes offer help people in the larger community “to know God’s love through the acts of our parishioners.”
 
Most Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Morrisville, Johnson, Hyde Park and Eden reaches out to persons in need through its SAM – Social Action Ministry – program, which provides assistance with things like rent, utilities, gasoline, food and phone minutes. Spiritual guidance is available also.
 
“We try to give them hope,” Mary Elfer said of those who seek assistance from the parish.
 
She is the parish ministries coordinator and considers assisting others as integral to her faith. “We are to follow the Gospel and practice our faith through works of love toward our neighbor,” she said. “Christ told us to help each other. We are supposed to take to heart those in need.”
 
The parish also works with local service agencies to meet needs.
 
Ted and Kathy Barrett of St. Jude Church in Hinesburg coordinate the twice-monthly senior meal hosted by the parish in partnership with Age Well, an agency that advocates for the aging population of northwestern Vermont.
 
Motivated by their faith and their desire to help others, they have been involved in the meals for about 10 years. “The seniors need a place to get out and meet other seniors,” Mr. Barrett said.
 
“We enjoy doing it, and they enjoy the camaraderie, the friendship,” Mrs. Barrett added.
 
The meal program serves about 20 meals at each dinner, and volunteers include parishioners and community members.
 
In addition to a free bingo game, “there is a lot of chatting, telling stories and reminiscing,” Mrs. Barrett said.
 
Many parishes are involved in providing gifts to persons in need at Christmas. At St. Thomas Parish in Underhill Center, for example, a food project provides about six to 10 families with food and fruit boxes/baskets that include a ham or turkey and a gift card for additional needed items.
 
“God calls us to love our neighbor,” said Laura Wells, coordinator of religious education and coordinator of the Christmas food and fruit boxes/baskets. “When we open our heart to Christ…we are happy and … want to serve our neighbor.”
 
The parish collects food all year for people in need, but during Advent, the collection is used specifically for the food and fruit project.
 
“People are so good” about helping others in need, Wells said, noting that the Christmas food project is but one of the social justice works in the parish.
 
One of the important social justice ministries at St. Michael Parish in Brattleboro is St. Brigid’s Kitchen and Pantry. Healthy noontime meals are served four days a week, and a food pantry helps those who need food to take home. About 17,000 meals a year are served there.
 
St. Brigid’s is nearly 35 years old, and throughout the years faith has motivated many of its volunteers. “We are compelled to care for the poor because God demands it,” said Volunteer Coordinator Carolyn Pieciak.
 
But it is important to point out that as much as varied parish charitable works assist people in need, they also give volunteers a broad selection of ways to “give back” or to live out their faith.
 
“The old adage that ‘it is in giving that receive’ is made very true through the opportunity to share of one’s self through these different ministries,” Father Royer said.
 
“Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’
-- Mt 25:34-40

 
 
  • Published in Diocesan

New director of worship to assist parishes with liturgical catechesis, formation

The Diocese of Burlington has hired a director of worship to assist parishes with liturgical catechesis and formation and to ensure Masses are celebrated with reverence, care and attention.
 
Joshua J. Perry also will coordinate the planning and celebration of diocesan liturgies such as the Rite of Election, Chrism Mass, priestly and diaconate ordinations and priest’s funerals and serve as a resource for confirmation celebrations.
 
Born and raised in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, he earned a bachelor’s degree in Catholic Studies from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., in 2003 and a master’s in Liturgical Studies from St. John’s University and School of Theology in Collegeville, Minn., in 2009.
 
He worked as the coordinator of liturgical celebrations at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis as well as director of worship for a 1,500-family suburban parish (St. Therese Parish in Deephaven, Minn.). Most recently, he was the liturgist at Villanova University.
 
“Effective liturgy engages us and invites us to full, active and conscious participation through ritual, posture, gesture, words, singing and silence,” he said. “It is full of signs and symbols; effective liturgy is the full use of those signs and symbols so that our senses are engaged – sight, smell, touch, taste, hearing – and not just our minds.”
 
Reporting directly to Phil Lawson, director of evangelization and catechesis for the Diocese of Burlington, Perry’s main area of responsibility is liturgical catechesis and formation, offering parishes throughout the diocese assistance in their own efforts in these areas, especially working with liturgical ministers -- lectors, altar servers, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, musicians and clergy.
 
“But the Church also recognizes the importance of the worshipping assembly – those who are ‘in the pews’ and called to fully, actively and consciously participate in their own way in the liturgy,” he said. “These catechetical efforts are for them as well so that they may more deeply engage in the liturgy. Because of the importance of liturgical catechesis and formation, this office is a part of the larger Office of Evangelization and Catechesis.”
 
Another of his responsibilities is to ensure that liturgies are celebrated with reverence, care and attention – “to let our liturgy be the best we can offer given our particular situations and resources,” he continued. “Diligent celebration allows us to better reflect on the power of liturgy, and this reflection, in turn, encourages us to more diligent celebration.”
 
Perry hopes to foster and encourage devotion to Our Lord in the Eucharist through Exposition and Adoration and to Our Lady.
 
Also, the way parishes celebrate other important moments in people’s lives is also important: baptisms, weddings and funerals. He hopes to encourage positive liturgical celebrations of those times too.
 
“Occasional Morning Prayer or Evening Prayer celebrated communally can be a wonderful addition to Lenten or Advent observances,” he said. “The Church has official blessings for any number of occasions -- there’s a big book of blessings aptly called ‘Book of Blessings,’ and I would like to encourage parishes break open that resource.”
 
Perry hopes in the coming months to provide regional workshops and evenings of reflection so that those involved in liturgy or those who simply want to go deeper in liturgy have time and space to reflect on their liturgical experience.
 
In his first year on the job, he hopes to visit all the parishes/worship sites for Sunday Mass and meet with people from different parts of the diocese to get their sense of the liturgy.
 
He lives in Fairfax with his 10-year-old Akita dog, Ada.
 
 
 
  • Published in Diocesan

Bishop Kenneth Angell, eighth bishop of Burlington, has died

Bishop Kenneth A. Angell served as bishop of Burlington from 1992 to 2005, and from the beginning, he revealed a good-humored man of faith with a heart for the dignity of all humanity.
 
He died Oct. 4, 2016, at the age of 86.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Tuesday, Oct. 11, at 1 p.m. at St. Joseph Co-Cathedral in Burlington with  Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne as principal celebrant in the presence of Cardinal Sean O'Malley, Archbishop of Boston. Calling hours will be on Monday, Oct. 10, from 3-7 p.m. and on Tuesday, Oct. 11, from 11 a.m-12:30 p.m. at the co-cathedral. Burial will take place in the Angell Family lot at St. Anne Cemetery in Cranston, R.I., at a later time.
 
Beginning at his installation, Bishop Angell publicly showed his keen sense of humor. His predecessor, Bishop John A. Marshall – a more serious personality – said Bishop Angell’s sense of humor would be a welcome change for Vermonters. “Everyone’s been talking about his sense of humor and different personality, and it’s good to have that contrast,” Bishop Marshall said, indicating his own more serious side. But, he added, “He’s very serious about the teachings of the Church.”
 
During his installation, Bishop Angell spoke of social justice issues and a new mission of transforming society to better reflect Jesus’ values and called everyone to get involved.
 
He came to Vermont as a member of the Church and at the same time as one who was a pastor, as a disciple of Jesus and as a teacher of the faith.
 
In his installation homily he asked people to continue to put their gifts and talents at the service of the Church and said he prayed that people would always love the Church because it is the “extension of Christ.”
 
He pledged cooperation and support to those of other faiths and ecclesial communities in transforming society to reflect the values they shared and proclaimed, and he asked that people never cease to proclaim the dignity of all human life.
 
To assist men contemplating a vocation to the priesthood, Bishop Angell called for the establishment of a House of Discernment, opened in 1993 in four second-floor rooms at the Catholic Center at the University of Vermont, a place where young men of college age or older could spend a day, a weekend or longer praying and reflecting on whether they are being called to the priesthood. Msgr. Michael DeForge, then vocations director of the diocese, said the house would benefit the entire community by helping to create a “culture of vocations."

With the full support of Bishop Angell, the Diocese of Burlington began a new Ministry Training program to provide education, training and support for those who discerned a call to leadership ministries, to nurture their spiritual lives; to provide a firm foundation in Scripture, spirituality and Catholic teachings; and to develop an awareness and appreciation of the diversity and complementarity of vocations and states of life.

Bishop Angell was dedicated to protecting the dignity of all life. In 1993, he lead an ecumenical group of more than 1,500 right-to-life supporters to the Statehouse in Montpelier where he presented a petition containing more than 29,000 signatures against mandated abortion coverage in health care. He also began a diocesan wide Respect Life Phone Tree, which he activated whenever immediate action was needed to lobby state or national leaders.

In 1995, at the behest of the bishop, who had dedicated himself to the USCCB’s efforts to “confront a Culture of Violence," the Knights of Columbus collected more than 6,000 signatures on a petition to aid the U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines.
 
In 1996 Bishop Angell established a diocesan Bishop’s Commission on Women to ascertain the needs and concerns of Vermont Catholics on issues related to women in the Church. “We have been trying to open up jobs and ministries to women, and although we have had some success, it is not yet all that we hope for,” he said.
 
A strong supporter of traditional marriage, Bishop Angell in 2000 released a statement saying, “We believe that marriage is a sacred covenant between one man and one woman, entered into for life, and open to the possibility of children and family. We believe that a stable, life-long relationship of husband and wife best serves the procreation, care and education of children. We believe further that re-defining marriage, expanding it to include other private relationships, will ultimately attack the age-old truth that traditional marriage and stable families constitute the very foundation of our society.”
 
In 2001 he wrote to the House to express his opposition to capital punishment, saying, "We must not perpetuate the crime of murder by becoming a society that kills for retribution.... We must not promote or justify a culture of vengeance. We cannot hope to teach that killing is wrong by killing."

Tragedy struck the nation – and the Angell Family in particular – on Sept. 11, 2001. The bishop’s younger brother, David Angell -- the Emmy Award-winning creator and producer of Frasier -- and his wife, Lynn, died during the terror attacks aboard American Airlines Flight 11. Nearly 1,200 people attended a Memorial Mass Sept. 12 at St. Joseph Co-Cathedral in Burlington for the victims of the terrorist attacks. At the beginning of the Mass, Bishop Angell prayed for the victims, their families, friends, rescue workers and President George W. Bush. He also asked the congregation to pray for the perpetrators “that they may be moved to repentance.” Addressing the media after the Mass, Bishop Angell was asked how he could call for prayers for the perpetrators of such senseless violence; he replied, “I am a Christian. I have to forgive, so I do.”

It was also during his tenure as bishop that the clergy sexual abuse scandal came to light, and he participated in the acceptance of The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, a comprehensive set of procedures established by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in June 2002 for addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy. The charter also includes guidelines for reconciliation, healing, accountability and prevention of future acts of abuse.
 
“I was so moved by the testimony of those abused. My heart went out to the victims—each of these people whose lives have been so deeply affected by offending clergy,” he shared. The diocese established the Office of Safe Environments to implement the charter and to oversee programs to ensure safety for those involved with Church ministries.

In 2003 Bishop Angell spearheaded the celebration of the sesquicentennial of the diocese. More than 1,300 people gathered at St. Joseph Co-Cathedral for the celebratory Mass. “As we look back and celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Diocese of Burlington, we are most grateful for the hearty and God-fearing Catholics of Vermont who preserved our faith, hope and charity through four centuries of Vermont winters, wilderness, politics, priests, bishops and countless tests of faith,” he said.

Faced with a shortage of priests and a decline in weekly Mass attendance, the bishop explained that a “drought in priestly vocations” had caused the diocese to re-evaluate how priests are assigned. In 2004, Bishop Angell called for a sweeping study of parish reconfigurations, consolidations and schedule changes. He then wrote a pastoral letter to address the challenge of maintaining and fostering pastoral life in the diocese while facing a decreasing number of priests to serve in ministry.
 
Some parishes adopted a share-a-pastor model; other parishes used pastoral associates and other lay ministers to assist the pastor in meeting the demands of parish life. Some had adjusted Mass schedules, and some churches were reduced to seasonal or occasional use. Some were closed. Regional meetings took place to aid in the pastoral planning process.

In 2004, Bishop Angell wrote to 49 Catholic Vermont legislators seeking to open lines of communication and expressing his willingness to discuss specific issues of import to Catholics. “A well-informed Catholic conscience is a precious and great gift to those who thirst and strive for justice,” he wrote. He told the Catholic legislators to contact him and/or members of the Diocesan Respect Life Committee on “any such matters of conscience and related concerns.”
 
He met with Gov. Douglas to deliver a stack of petitions in opposition to physician-assisted suicide. “We are here this day in the name of all who respect life, to petition your support in the effort to keep physician-assisted suicide illegal in our beloved state,” he said. “Assisted suicide not only abdicates the sworn duties of all physicians to nurture life, but it infringes upon the power of the Almighty who is the Author of Life and Death.”

In the pastoral letter, “I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: Reflections on the Formation of a Catholic Conscience,” Bishop Angell stated that prominent figures who profess the Catholic faith must be particularly cautious in the way they publicly represent their beliefs on the value of human life. “We hope they will take great care to lead, not mislead the faithful on any and all respect life issues,” he wrote. “Public statements and opinions which distort Catholic Church teachings can confuse the faithful, cause them great pain and promote disunity within the Church.”
 
Bishop Angell maintained a respect for the dignity of humanity and a sense of humor during his tenure as Bishop of Burlington. He lived up to his episcopal motto: “Serve the Lord with Gladness,” for indeed, he was serving the Lord.
 
 
 
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