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Coordinator of religious education and catechesis

Michael J. Hagan became coordinator of religious education and catechesis for the Diocese of Burlington in June, and he will be working to strengthen religious education within the Church by working with directors of religious education in Vermont parishes.
 
“Catechesis is important because our faith is not something that anyone can immediately -- or once-and-for-all – grasp,” he said. “Being a Christian is a lifelong process of unfolding the mystery of our faith, which is exactly what catechesis (the teaching of our faith) helps us to do. This journey is just as important, if not more so, for adults as it is for children.”
 
He plans to introduce more catechetical programs that include the whole family, both children and parents. “How that applies specifically, however, will depend on each parish and its particular strengths,” he said, adding that he will continue to offer catechists educational opportunities throughout Vermont.
 
One of his goals is to better understand how Vermont parishes function and then use that knowledge to be a strong support to assist and encourage them in their individual religious education goals. “The only way to truly achieve this is to pick up the phone, get in the car and build relationships with DREs around the state,” he said.
 
Hagan, 26, was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia. He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Grove City College and a master’s in theology from Villanova University.
 
He worked as a theology teacher and campus minister at a Catholic high school in Toledo, Ohio.
 
“In my experience as a high school teacher, I quickly discovered that books alone don't cut it. Outside of the classroom, students naturally consume information digitally, whether it be YouTube videos, online articles or apps on their phones,” he said. “Just as Jesus used familiar objects to make His parables relatable, we need to make technology a part of our religious education curriculum. This will help our students to be engaged in our material. Books are certainly important, but it is best to weave in the latest technology when possible.”
 
Hagan is married and now a resident of South Burlington and a parishioner at Christ the King/St. Anthony Parish in Burlington.
 

Vermont Catholic staff earns press awards

The staff of Vermont Catholic earned four awards – including a coveted “Magazine of the Year” award – from the Catholic Press Association of the United States & Canada at its annual Catholic Media Conference June 21-23 in Quebec City.
 
In the “Magazine/Newsletter Of The Year” Diocesan Magazine category, Vermont Catholic staff took third place.
 
“My congratulations to the staff of Vermont Catholic magazine for being honored by the Catholic Press Association. These awards only confirm what I and the readers of Vermont Catholic already know: that the staff of the magazine are creative, faith-filled and hardworking people,” commented Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne.
 
Graphic designer Monica Koskiniemi garnered first place in the “Best Layout of an Article or Column” category for diocesan magazines for her print layout of "Sharing the Love," and Stephanie Clary, assistant editor and mission outreach and communication manager, placed second for her article “The Cry of the Earth, The Cry of the Poor” in the “Best Reporting of Social Justice Issues: Care for God’s Creation” category.
 
The staff earned a third-place award for “Best Redesign.”
 
“You are only as good as your team, and Vermont Catholic magazine is blessed with a very talented team,” said Vermont Catholic editor Ellen Kane. “Even though we are a small team of four, wearing many different hats at the Diocese, it is our strong commitment to the mission of the Catholic Church and spreading the Good News to households throughout Vermont that keeps us focused on producing a high quality magazine that connects Catholics around our common faith.”
 
The magazine’s quarterly format – introduced with the December 2016 issue -- allows the staff to take a “deeper dive into different aspects of our faith and share the rich diversity of Catholic life from every corner of the statewide Diocese of Burlington,” she added. “We are delighted that the redesign of the magazine was received so positively on the national level.”
 
In the “Magazine/Newsletter of the Year” category, judges said: “The scope of this magazine is demonstrated by its totally different cover treatment, all centered around people. They illustrate the diversity of subjects of Catholic life in Vermont from the mother with child to the family so happily posed to the young man working on a farm while on retreat. Stories are interesting and well-written.”
 
In the “Best Redesign” category, judges remarked: “The redesign results in a much more energetic and lively magazine. Feature articles are well designed and layouts are creative. Type is used to enhance the lively energetic feel. Biggest success is the redesign of the cover and the art. Logo is stronger and makes a better visual statement. Art is much larger, clearly focused and draws the reader into the magazine.”
 
Koskiniemi earned top honors for “Best Layout of an Article or Column: Diocesan Magazine” judges said, because of “great graphics, great layout, great use of type and contrast.” They continued, “The eye moves around the page and the reader is able to quickly get the sense of the story and the intensity of the project. There is also a great sense of energy.”
 
Clary’s entry in the “Best Reporting of Social Justice Issues: Care for God’s Creation” earned second place because it distilled the insights of Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical, "Laudato Si’: On Care For Our Common Home." into a concise explanation of ecological justice as part of the Christian mission. “The article emphasizes that the poor are particularly harmed by climate change and that those who are privileged have a special responsibility to address its effects,” the judges wrote.
 
The Catholic Press Association has been uniting and serving the Catholic press for more than 100 years. It has nearly 250 publication members and 500 individual members. Member print publications reach 10 million households plus countless others through members’ websites and social media outlets.
 
Vermont Catholic and its predecessor, the biweekly Vermont Catholic Tribune, have won numerous CPA awards throughout the years.
 
 

Father Sanderson's ordination

Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne ordained the Vermont Catholic community’s newest priest at a special Mass June 17 at St. Joseph Co-Cathedral in Burlington.

The newly ordained Father Joseph J. Sanderson has been assigned to serve as parochial vicar at Christ the King-St. Anthony Parish in Burlington.
           
“The call to be a Christian is a call to a life of self-emptying sacrifice, which is deepened even further in the priestly ministry when through ordination one is configured even more deeply into the person of Christ as the great High Priest,” Bishop Coyne said during the ordination Mass.
 
Born in Middlebury in 1990, Father Sanderson is the eldest of the three children of Jennifer and John Sanderson. He grew up in Orwell and attended Fair Haven Union High School, Our Lady of Providence Seminary, Providence College and St. John's Seminary in Boston.
 
“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.”
 
Read more in an upcoming issue of The Inland See.
 
 

Bishop to convene diocesan synod

Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne has announced plans to convene the first diocesan synod in Vermont since 1962.

Its purpose is 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. This will be at least a yearlong project and is “a serious undertaking by the Church,” he said. “It is not a simple convening of meetings.”

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington serves a population of 118,000 Catholics.

There are 65 active priests (45 diocesan and 20 religious order or ex tern) and 43 permanent deacons ministering in 73 parishes and 23 missions. The diocese includes 14 Catholic schools (including St. Therese Digital Academy) and a catechetical system with an estimated 4,700 students. Through Vermont Catholic Charities’ social services and homes for the aged, the Diocese of Burlington assisted more than 6,000 Vermonters last year.

The bishop will serve as the convener and presider of the synod, and membership will contain both ex-officio members of the clergy and laity as well as representatives of religious communities, lay fraternities and at-large representation such as young people, parents and minority communities.

Before the sessions of the synod are convened – the bishop hopes that will be next spring -- all of the members of the Catholic community will be invited to participate in a preparation process in which they will be asked to pray, to listen, to learn and to discern what the future pastoral plan for spreading the “good news” of the Church in Vermont should be. This will take place on the parish level, the deanery (regional) level and the diocesan level. It will include personal meetings but could also make use of new digital and social media means of communication.

After this work of preparation is completed, the bishop will convene the synod to meet in the necessary sessions to complete the work of discernment and planning and to then enact the policies, laws and directives to carry out that plan in the Vermont Church. “I will seek input from all. I will listen to all. And I will discern with you all,” he said.
 

Composting at diocesan headquarters

Employees of the Diocese of Burlington have been pitching in to reduce the amount of trash sent to Vermont’s only landfill by recycling, and now staff at the Joy Drive diocesan headquarters in South Burlington is separating compostables from trash there.
 
Instead of putting apple cores, banana peels, pizza crusts and other food waste into the trash, it all goes into compost barrels that will be picked up and used for compost. Used paper towels, paper napkins and uncoated paper cups and plates are also dropped into composting receptacles.
 
The beefed up trash reduction effort began in January in the building that houses the chancery and such offices as those for evangelization and catechesis, safe environments, worship, communications, human resources, vocations and youth and young adult ministry.
 
In “Laudato Si’,” Pope Francis quotes St. John Paul II’s “Centesimus Annus,” saying, "Every effort to protect and improve our world entails profound changes in 'lifestyles, models of production and consumption, and the established structures of power which today govern societies.'"
 
“Learning about waste reduction and putting what we learn into practice here at 55 Joy Drive is one small way to put effort into these changes,” said Stephanie Clary, mission outreach and communication coordinator for the Diocese of Burlington. “Managing materials in this way is how we best cooperate with natural processes of decomposition and regeneration and, therefore, respect patterns inscribed in creation by the Creator—it is a miraculous design!”
 
Before the effort began, Michele Morris, assistant waste reduction manager and business outreach coordinator for Chittenden Solid Waste District in Williston, gave a presentation to employees about reducing, reusing and recycling, with a special emphasis on separating items from the trash that can be composted.
 
The diocese is partnering with the solid waste district to reduce, reuse and recycle during the Year of Creation called for by Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne.
 
“The best way to start is education,” said Steve Ticehurst, director of maintenance at the Joy Drive office building. “What can we do to help reduce our [carbon] footprint and green up our building and save our planet?”
 
Morris had some answers.
 
Sending trash to the Coventry landfill is costly – not just to put it there but to truck it there. For example, more than 48,000 gallons of diesel fuel are used a year taking trash there from Chittenden County.
 
She suggested that reducing trash begins with reducing acquiring. “Identify needs versus wants,” she said.
 
Other ways of reducing the amount of things brought into the home include buying in bulk and repackaging and instead of buying items for gifts, give gifts of time, experiences and connections.
 
Reuse options are limitless, Morris said. All it takes is some creativity to make a trivet out of wine corks or tote bags out of plastic grocery bags.
 
In discussing recycling, she said it is important to know what can and cannot be recycled and to ensure what is recycled is clean.
 
Her presentation emphasized the importance of getting food scraps out of trash by having better strategies for purchasing and storing food so it is not wasted and by donating excess food to people in need. Some food can be given to farmers for animal feed.
 
Food that gets into the landfill creates harmful methane gas and leachate -- water that has percolated through a solid and leached out some of the constituents.
 
Removing food from trash can save money. For example, Morris noted that fees facilities charge to dump trash are about $129 per ton while it costs $45 a ton for food scraps and $21 a ton for recycling. “When you look at the comparison, there’s no comparison,” she said.
 
Ticehurst said he would be collecting information on cost savings for the diocese as the trash reduction program gets underway.
 
In addition, staff at other diocesan buildings are learning about/preparing to better manage the disposal of their materials.
 
“We have been encouraged by so many of the wonderful initiatives, organizations and people in Vermont who are committed to living sustainably,” Clary said. “Our hope is to join and support those efforts as we learn about and begin practicing specific, attainable strategies to care for our common home and all those with which it is shared.”
 
“There is a nobility in the duty to care for creation through little daily actions, and it is wonderful how education can bring about real changes in lifestyle. Education in environmental responsibility can encourage ways of acting which directly and significantly affect the world around us,” Pope Francis said in his encyclical. These efforts “reflect a generous and worthy creativity which brings out the best in human beings. Reusing something instead of immediately discarding it, when done for the right reasons, can be an act of love which expresses our own dignity.”

Originally published in the 2017 spring issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.
 
 

Lenten confirmation program

Parishes throughout the Diocese of Burlington have been invited to participate in a Lenten program to prepare adults to receive the sacrament of confirmation at Pentecost.
 
Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne confirms adults at Pentecost at St. Joseph Co-Cathedral in Burlington. “Offering this program through Lent and the Easter Season allows those adults [18 and older] who are seeking confirmation to be adequately prepared to receive the graces of the sacrament both intellectually and spiritually,” explained Deacon Phil Lawson, director of evangelization and catechesis for the diocese. “Journeying with the community through Lent and Easter is a wonderful opportunity to grow closer to Christ and prepare to receive the Gifts of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.”
 
Confirmation is one of the Sacraments of Initiation, the initial sacraments by which persons become members of the Catholic Church: baptism, confirmation and Eucharist. Through these sacraments, one is first welcomed into the Catholic community, nourished by the body and blood of the Lord and strengthened through intensification of the presence of the Holy Spirit.
 
Leaders for the confirmation program vary; in some parishes the director of religious education teaches the participants, in others it is a parish priest or volunteer catechist.
 
Deacon Lawson provided a workshop and online training for the parish leaders.
 
Paul Turnley is co-facilitating the program with RoseMaria Doran, for Our Lady of Seven Dolors Church in Fair Haven, St. John the Baptist Church in Castleton, St. Paul Church in Orwell, St. Matthew of Avalon Church at Lake Bomoseen, St. Frances Cabrini Church in West Pawlet, St. Raphael Church in Poultney and St. Anne Church in Middletown Springs.
 
Their program will include seven two-hour sessions: Each will use the framework of prayer, discipleship and mission to present its theme using as resources “The United States Catholic Catechism for Adults,” “Catechism of the Catholic Church” and the Bible.
 
Topics include “Desire for God,” “The Holy Spirit,” “Prayer. Challenge of following Christ. Moral Life. Mary and the Communion of Saints” and “Discipleship.”
 
“The Adult Confirmation Program is built around the framework of Encounter, Accompany, and Mission,” Turnley explained. “The first four and a half sessions, which include the three sessions during Lent, are focused on ‘Encountering Christ’ through focusing on our desire for God; the Holy Spirit; the sacraments of confirmation, reconciliation and the Eucharist; and prayer. These are preparation for accompanying the participants as they accept the challenge of following Christ, responding in love and giving their whole selves and lives to Him….”
 
Pope Francis has called for the Church to be “a facilitator of grace,” and providing an opportunity for adults who haven’t been confirmed to receive the Gifts of the Holy Spirit in confirmation “certainly fits the bill,” Deacon Lawson said.
 
Evangelization is about going out and sharing the joy of the Gospel, so the Lenten program “is a tremendous opportunity to reach out to those who may have drifted away from their faith,” he said.
 
The foundation of this process is a type of mini-catechumenate. Participants encounter Christ -- especially in the Gospels -- the leaders journey with them, and then the participants are equipped and sent forward on mission to live a life of faith.
 
Edmundite Father David Cray, pastor of St. Jude Church in Hinesburg and Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Charlotte, likes the idea of a “uniform…flexible and convenient” process throughout the diocese to prepare adults for confirmation. Offering it during Lent has the benefit of proximity to the Pentecost confirmation by the bishop.
 
However, offering the program during Lent is what is suggested but not required.
 
Turnley said the program combines the elements of re-enkindling love, devotion and commitment to Jesus as the Christ through prayer, the sacraments and a willingness to be Christ in the world “with the opportunity of refreshing our understanding of our faith and our beliefs.”
 
The process in the diocese will be ongoing and offered annually as well as on an as-needed basis.  

--------------------
Originally published in the 2017 spring issue of Vermont Catholic Magazine.
 

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.
 
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