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Former head of CRS to speak at Vermont conference on "Laudato Si'"

A former head of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) will be in Vermont in September to speak at the “Action for Ecological Justice: Celebrating a Year of Creation” conference at Saint Michael's College on September 30th. The conference will be the main event of the Diocese of Burlington’s Year of Creation, a yearlong, statewide, intentional focus on embracing the message of Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical letter, “Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home.”

Hosted by the Catholic Church in Vermont, sponsors for the event include Catholic Relief Services, Oregon Catholic Press, Saint Michael's College, Sisters of Mercy, Catholic Climate Covenant,  United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Department of Peace, Justice and Human Development, Courtyard Burlington Harbor Hotel, Keurig Green Mountain Coffee, Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity, and Green Mountain Monastery.

General registration is $35 per person and includes morning pastries, lunch and afternoon breakout sessions. Students can register for free.

To register or learn more, visit: vermontcatholic.org/actionforecojustice.
 
Dr. Carolyn Woo, who from 2012-2016 was president and CEO of CRS, the U.S. Catholic Church's official, international humanitarian and development aid agency, will present a personal look at the encyclical she helped Pope Francis present in Rome, at environmental degradation and its effect on the poor and at measures to minimize further environmental harm from carbon emissions and remediate damage already done.
 
With perspectives from scientists, politicians, activists, economists, professionals, academics and people of various faiths, the conference will offer the opportunity for dynamic conversations about the state of creation and how people can work together for a sustainable future.
 
CRS staff “works face to face every day with the effects of climate warming,” Woo said. These include working with farmers whose livelihood is negatively impacted by erratic rainfall, which causes problems like drought on one extreme and soil erosion from deluges of rain on the other.
 
Catholic Relief Services was founded in 1943 by the Catholic bishops of the United States to serve World War II survivors in Europe. Since then, it has expanded to reach more than 100 million people in over 100 countries on five continents.
 
Its mission is to assist impoverished and disadvantaged people overseas, working in the spirit of Catholic social teaching to promote the sacredness of human life and the dignity of the human person. With that mission rooted in the Catholic faith, CRS operations serve people based solely on need, regardless of their race, religion or ethnicity. In the United States, CRS engages Catholics to live their faith in solidarity with the poor and suffering people of the world.
 
The conference at St. Michael’s College will be open to people of all faiths.
 
For more information, call Stephanie Clary at 802-846-5822.

To learn more about the Year of Creation please visit: vermontcatholic.org/yearofcreation.
 

Campus Compact honors St. Joseph's Residential Care Home

Vermont college students, faculty, and staff will gather on Friday April 7th, 2017 at the Community College of Vermont's Montpelier Campus to celebrate individual contributions and the collective impact of higher education in service to Vermont.
 
Three awards will be presented to students, faculty, staff, and organizations who partner with our colleges and universities to meet community needs.  Honorees include:
 
The Engaged Educator Award is given to a faculty member who has made public service an integral part of their teaching and research to the benefit of both students and the community. This year's finalists include:

Laurel Butler, Vermont Technical College

Kelly Hamshaw, University of Vermont

Kathy Fox, University of Vermont

Moise St. Louis, Saint Michael's College

Allison Cleary, Saint Michael's College

Robin Collins, Champlain College

Faith Yacubian, Champlain College

Shawna Shapiro, Middlebury College

The Engaged Student Awards are given to one student or student group at any Vermont campus for both the breadth and depth of their community involvement.  This year, the following students will receive these awards:

Kimberly Payne, Community College of Vermont

Chelsea Colby, Middlebury College

D. Sydney Rybicki and Erin Buckley, Saint Michael's College

Sarah Franco, Champlain College

Morgan Easton, Vermont Technical College

Elizabeth Boley, University of Vermont

Shanely Marmolejos, Southern Vermont College

The Engaged Partnership Award is given to honor a partnership between a community organization and Vermont campuses that has been leveraged to address real and pressing community needs.  This year's finalists include:

Elise Schadler of Urban and Community Forestry for her partnership with the University of Vermont

Open Door Clinic for their partnership with Middlebury College

St. Joseph's Residential Care Home for their partnership with Saint Michael's College

The event will also feature a panel on "Civically Engaged Careers" which will spotlight the experience of four young professionals, each of whom have incorporated civic engagement into their professional lives.  The panelists include: Colin Robinson, Political Director at the Vermont National Education Association; Gwen Pokalo, Director of the Center for Women & Enterprise Vermont; Dana Gulley, MBA Student in Sustainable Entrepreneurship at the University of Vermont; and Robyn Baylor, AmeriCorps VISTA Program Director at SerVermont.

The panelists will answer questions and share stories to inspire civically engaged undergraduate students to continue that engagement as they progress in with their professional careers.To learn more about the work being done by students, faculty, and campuses to positively impact our local and global communities, visit our websitewww.vermonthec.org or contact Kim Coleman at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Dr. Carolyn Woo to speak in Vermont

A former head of Catholic Relief Services will be in Vermont in September to speak at a Year of Creation conference, the signature event of the Diocese of Burlington’s yearlong, statewide, intentional focus on embracing the message of Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical letter, “Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home.”
 
Dr. Carolyn Woo, who from 2012-2016 was president and CEO of the U.S. Church's international humanitarian agency based in Baltimore, will present a personal look at the encyclical she helped Pope Francis present in Rome, at environmental degradation and its effect on the poor and at measures to minimize further environmental harm from carbon emissions and remediate damage already done.
 
In a telephone interview from her home in South Bend, Ind., Woo gave examples of how CRS staff “works face to face every day with the effects of climate warming.” These include working with farmers whose livelihood is negatively impacted by erratic rainfall, which causes problems like drought on one extreme and soil erosion from deluges of rain on the other.
 
She spoke of people who rely on fishing as a livelihood put out of work when a lake dries up and devastation to farmers when crops wither and die. Rises in sea level or storms decimate homes and livelihoods.
 
“At CRS, we have been working for years with the consequences of climate change and also the erratic behavior of weather,” Woo said. “We know that reality through experience.”
 
Catholic Relief Services was founded in 1943 by the Catholic bishops of the United States to serve World War II survivors in Europe. Since then, it has expanded to reach more than 100 million people in 101 countries on five continents.
 
Its mission is to assist impoverished and disadvantaged people overseas, working in the spirit of Catholic social teaching to promote the sacredness of human life and the dignity of the human person. Although that mission is rooted in the Catholic faith, CRS operations serve people based solely on need, regardless of their race, religion or ethnicity. In the United States, CRS engages Catholics to live their faith in solidarity with the poor and suffering people of the world.
 
Woo – who grew up in Hong Kong -- encourages dialogue with persons who consider global warming a hoax, and she encourages them to encounter situations that exemplify the severity of the situation caused by global warming. “We have to walk in their shoes to see what drives their thinking,” she said. “They have probably experienced certain types of framing that suggests all the evidence is false.”
 
Various measures to limit the harmful effects of global warming on the poor have had some success, such as preparing coastal communities for storms to reduce the risk of loss of life and property. These include building homes in safer locations, building sturdier homes, preplanning community responses and mobilizing local and government groups.
 
She offered three key messages about the environment:
 
+ The environment is God’s gift to humankind and is meant for everyone.
 
+ There must be responsibility and action on behalf of this gift so that it is cherished and nourished for everyone.
 
+ There must be dialogue with people who don’t believe climate change is happening, that it damages the Earth and human-made actions affect it.
 
For details on the conference at which she will speak, check vermontcatholic.org/yearofcreation. The conference will be open to people of all faiths.


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

Students research water quality

Sarah Eustis and Katie Garret, students at Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington, are doing research to determine the health of two local streams and their impact on Lake Champlain.
 
It is more than research; it’s a way for them to put their faith in action.
 
“God created us as the caretakers of the rest of creation, so it’s our duty to protect the environment and protect other species,” Katie said.
 
The Research on Adaptation to Climate Change program in which they are participating is funded by the National Science Foundation through The Vermont Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, a program designed to fulfill the foundation’s mandate to promote scientific progress nationwide and to get students involved in research.
 
Rice has participated in the program for eight of its nine years.
 
Sarah and Katie began the project in June. It entails collecting water samples from Potash Brook and Bartlett Brook in South Burlington and sending them to St. Michael’s College for analysis regarding levels of phosphorous, suspended sediments and nitrogen. This helps determine the health of Lake Champlain, into which both streams flow.
 
The teens also collected insects from the bottom of the streams, as they are indicators of the quality of the water.
 
“Both streams are urban-impacted so we expect to find bugs that are tolerant of pollution,” said Sharon Boardman, a Rice science teacher who is working with the students on the project.
 
A third component of the students’ project is an experiment: Sarah and Katie made leaf packs – one with faux foliage, one with maple leaves and one with witch hazel leaves – to collect bugs to see if they have feeding preferences. They were analyzing those packs in January in the school lab.
 
The two students are scheduled to make a presentation at a symposium with other Vermont Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research participants in March.
 
“My main motivation is to get kids involved in doing field research…like they would do in college studying biology or ecology,” Boardman said. “Also, this gives them a chance to do original research.”
 
Sarah is considering studying environmental science in college; Katie might pursue a degree in classics.
 
Sarah sees that the project she and Katie have undertaken is contributing to care of the Earth. “We are learning that when the environment is not good we can come up with ways to fix it” like ensuring there is no construction close to the edge of streams to prevent erosion and the addition of sediment to the stream, she said.
 
Both students studied Advance Placement Biology with Boardman as juniors and are enjoying the stream project, which is an independent project and garners them no school credit.
 
The project included a week-long training last summer at St. Michael’s College in Colchester.
 
“It’s important to think of the long-term health of the environment in Vermont,” Katie said. “Polluted streams will end up killing off wildlife.”
 
Boardman wants to instill in her students the attitude of caring for the Earth that Pope Francis espouses in “Laudato Si’,” his encyclical on the topic. “We’re called to be stewards of the Earth, and by studying ecology and understanding how ecosystems work, students become better stewards of their planet.”


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