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Obituary: Antonio Pomerleau

Antonio B. Pomerleau, 100, a real estate developer and philanthropist, died Feb. 8 at his Burlington home.
 
Known for his financial support of myriad projects including Pomerleau Alumni Center at St. Michael's College in Colchester, the Burlington Police Department headquarters and the Burlington Boys and Girls Club, Pomerleau has said, “I’ve been fortunate, and I give back to people who need it.”
 
In 2016 he delivered a check for $60,000 to St. Paul School in Barton as part of the school’s celebration of its 120th anniversary.
 
Pomerleau’s brother and sister attended St. Paul School; the family moved to Newport in 1927 where he attended the former Sacred Heart School.
 
The parishioner of Christ the King Parish in Burlington is survived by his wife of 71 years, Rita Murphy Pomerleau; by his children Ernie, Patricia, Elizabeth, Susan, Dennis, Alice, Rosemary and Grace; by his grandchildren Alexis, Terry, Caroline, Jessica, Lauren, Ali, Charlotte, Drew, Ellen, Madeline, Olivia, Frank and Catherine; and by two great grandchildren, Spencer and Sullivan.
 
He was predeceased by his sister, Ida, his brother Phil, and his daughters Anne Marie and Ellen.
 
A funeral for Pomerleau will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Feb. 13 at St. Michael's College in the Chapel of St. Michael the Archangel in Colchester.
 
  • Published in Diocesan

New president named for St. Michael's College

Dr. Lorraine Sterritt, a national leader in higher education with experience at some of America’s finest institutions, has been named the 17th president of St. Michael's College.

Sterritt will be the first woman to hold the position in the college’s history. She currently serves as president of Salem Academy and College in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

The Presidential Search Committee announced its selection Jan. 26 to the St. Michael’s community. Dr. Sterritt will assume her duties as president in July 2018.

On Tuesday Jan. 30, there will be a community introduction and press conference with her.

“The committee is thrilled to have Dr. Sterritt, a scholar and experienced administrator, coming to lead the college at such a crucial time in our history,” said Mary-Kate McKenna ’80, Presidential Search Committee chair and chair of the St. Michael's College Board of Trustees.

Sterritt holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in French from Queen’s University Belfast and a master’s degree and a doctorate in French from Princeton University. Prior to assuming the position at Salem, she served as dean for administration at Harvard College and as a member of the faculty of arts and sciences. Prior to Harvard, she held positions as associate dean and associate vice provost and was a member of the faculty at Stanford University. Previously she had held positions at the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard and Princeton University.

“Dr. Sterritt possesses a deep love of the liberal arts and a clear vision for the future of higher education,” McKenna said. “She was the unanimous choice of the Board of Trustees, and we all look forward to working with Dr. Sterritt in the years ahead. We are at a pivotal time in higher education and Dr. Sterritt is the visionary president we need to lead St. Michael’s College boldly into the future.”

Edmundite Father Stephen Hornat, ’72, superior general of the Society of Saint Edmund and search committee member, said it is no surprise to him that out of the 65 applicants to apply, Sterritt would rise to the top of the list. “We are fortunate to attract someone of her caliber. Her graciousness and warmth mesh well with our Edmundite tradition of hospitality,” he said. “She will make a great president and will have the prayers and support of the Edmundite and larger St. Michael’s community.”

Current St. Michael's College President John J. Neuhauser said, “St. Michael's is a special place and Dr. Lorraine Sterritt is a wonderful choice to lead the college at this time.” Neuhauser said Sterritt brings “an intelligence and depth of understanding of the importance of a liberating education to our nation, and she couples this with a genuine concern for all members of the college community, students, alumni, staff and faculty. Years from now we will only grow in appreciation for the fine work of the search committee.”

Sterritt expressed her enthusiasm to join the community of St. Michael's College. “I am very excited and deeply honored to assume the presidency of St. Michael’s College,” she said. “The people with whom I met in the interview process impressed me with their dedication to learning and service to humanity grounded in Edmundite ideals. Their devotion to the welfare of humanity and to care for the environment is exemplary.”

Sterritt added that she and her husband, Bert Lain, “are thrilled to be joining the St. Michael's community.”
 
 
 
  • Published in Diocesan

The Edmundite Show

Father Lino Oropeza is a fan of technology. He worked in information technology in his native Venezuela before becoming a priest of the Society of St. Edmund, based at St. Michael’s College in Colchester, so it seems natural that he would come up with an idea to combine technology and education about the Catholic faith. “People are not coming to church, so this was an idea to bring the church to them,” he said. “The charism of the Society of St. Edmund is to evangelize people. Everything we do is geared toward that. This is one piece of that.”
 
“This” is The Edmundite Show, a weekly half-hour program on YouTube presented by Father Oropeza and fellow Edmundite, Father Michael Carter.
 
The show, produced in Father Oropeza’s office in Alliot Hall, is not scripted; the order’s two youngest priests just let the conversation develop.
 
Father Oropeza, 36, and Father Carter, 27, presented the first Edmundite Show for All Saints Day in November. Since then, topics have focused on vocations, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, St. Edmund, Thanksgiving and the Solemnity of Christ the King, Advent and the Immaculate Conception.
 
Because he already had the computer he uses for the show, all Father Oropeza needed were two microphones and a soundboard. His religious order invested less than $200 for the equipment.
 
Technology is his hobby, so the Mobilization of Volunteer Efforts international coordinator at St. Michael’s likes to keep up with the latest developments. YouTubers and their programming made him think of a program about the Catholic faith, so he asked Father Carter to work with him on the project and “talk about Church stuff.”
 
Through The Edmundite Show, they hope to educate about the faith, promote vocations and help viewers get to know the Society of St. Edmund, the 175-year-old religious order founded in France that began St. Michael’s College.
 
The program streams live at 4 p.m. on Wednesdays on the Society of St. Edmund’s YouTube channel. While it is live streaming, there is a chat feature so the priests can accept comments and questions; Father Oropeza monitors the chat on a computer during the recording of the program.
 
“It’s not a fully polished product yet,” Father Carter said of the show Dec. 6.
 
Though the show is not directed to any one demographic, Father Oropeza said students at the college are curious about religion and God, and when they have the opportunity to talk to him, they ask deep questions; “but at the same time, they are not coming to the sacraments.”
 
The idea of The Edmundite Show, then, is to catechize, which they do in a light-hearted way. “In a way, that’s the nature of the medium,” said the bearded Father Carter, an avid Facebook user. “We want to present energy that is fun and sometimes silly — that’s more me than Lino” who is clean-shaven.
 
Father Carter began one show wearing a light-up turkey headband.
 
Humor is a tool he uses when he teaches religion at the college or preaches at the three churches of the Essex Catholic Community that he serves as parochial vicar. “When you use the element of humor, it brings people’s guard down and you can segue into something more serious.”
 
The priests, both graduates of St. Michael’s College, seek to bring the depth of their beliefs out in a way that is understandable and appealing.
 
Father Oropeza had hoped for five viewers for the first show, so he was surprised to have 30. But that number has grown as high as 1,034 with people watching not only in the United States but in such other countries as Venezuela, Bolivia, Mexico, Spain and Sweden.
 
Father Carter, a graduate of Burlington High School, participated in that school’s theater program because he considers himself a shy person and thought it would help him with public speaking, which it did.
 
“I’m definitely not shy,” Father Oropeza interjected. “I’m introverted — though some people would not believe that of me. I have no fear standing in front of people and talking to people. But at the end of the day I need time to be by myself and regroup.”
 
Shy or not, it’s evident both priests enjoy The Edmundite Show.
 
Father Oropeza hopes more people will subscribe to the show (at 36 at the time of this report) and that there will be more interaction with viewers during live streaming. He’s also considering adding another live stream on a different day of the week to interview various guests.
 
The fruit of their efforts, Father Carter said, will be facilitating even one person having a more open perspective about the Catholic Church, the priesthood or vocations. “I’d be pleased with that … or to make one person more curious about the Church than they were before.”
 
Father Oropeza said he knows of one man who binge-watched The Edmundite Show and liked it because he learned about the Catholic faith.
 
“Now we need [the Edmundite Show] community to grow,” he said.
 
Watch the show and subscribe for free.
 
 
 
  • Published in Schools

Society of St. Edmund's 175th anniversary

As the Society of St. Edmund celebrates the 175th anniversary of its founding in France, its members continue to serve God with zeal.
 
“That zeal was in our DNA right from the beginning,” said Father Stephen Hornat, superior general of the order based at St. Michael’s College in Colchester.  “Our founders were holy men with passion for the faith and the priesthood. … I see that same zeal playing out” in current Edmundite missions of education, social justice, spiritual renewal and pastoral ministry.
 
The Society of St. Edmund began in a rural region of France to revitalize the faith of people who had become increasingly alienated from the Catholic Church. The founder, Father Jean-Baptiste Muard, began the society at St. Mary’s Abbey in Pontigny, the final resting place of St. Edmund of Canterbury.
 
The arm of St. Edmund, once enshrined at St. Michael’s College then at Nativity of the Blessed Mary Church in Swanton (once staffed by the Edmundites), is now at the order’s Enders Island retreat center in Connecticut.
 
At the end of the 19th century as politics became increasingly hostile toward religious orders, the Society of St. Edmund decided to establish a new ministry in Canada, ministering to the French-speaking Catholics in Quebec.
 
Later asked to serve the French-speaking Catholics of northern Vermont, the Edmundites established several parishes and St. Michael’s College in Vermont.
 
The order also provided priests to minister in Venezuela for many years; the last Edmundite to serve there returned to the United States in July after 51 years.
 
The order currently has 25 members – priests and brothers -- most living in Vermont.
 
Edmundites serve in parish ministry in Selma, Ala., and in retreat house administration in Mystic, Conn. In Vermont they serve at St. Michael’s College – an educational institution the order founded – and in churches in Essex Junction, Essex Center, Putney, Townshend, Stratton, Hinesburg, Charlotte and Winooski. They also run St. Anne’s Shrine in Isle LaMotte.
 
Their ministries are diverse, but all seek to make God known and loved in deep and meaningful ways.
 
Looking to the future, Father Hornat noted that after the order’s foundation, members lived together at a monastery and went out to do their ministry, so he would like to return to the spirit of that foundation by strengthening community life. “Nicolle Hall [the order’s residence and headquarters at St. Michael’s College] is going to be the new Pontigny,” he said, where members will focus on community and prayer life and have an increased presence on campus. “When we can be strong as a religious community, we can make an impact in evangelization. We need to be that witness. We need to find our strength and our sustenance in community life and prayer.”
 
Zeal, he added, “is a contagious quality we have in the community.”
 
Among the future events to celebrate the 175 anniversary of the founding of the Society of St. Edmund is an St. Edmund’s Lecture and Reception Nov. 15 at St. Michael’s College; a Nov. 16 Mass at the college’s Chapel of St. Michael the Archangel; a heritage trip to France in May 2018; a July 3, 2018, Mass and picnic at Holy Family Church in Essex Junction marking the beginning of the Edmundite community; and the Aug. 15, 2018, closing of the anniversary year at the shrine.
 
For more information, call the Edmundite Generalate at 802-654-3400.
 
  • Published in Diocesan

Catholic Faith Formation Day for educators

Catholic schools need to be joyful, innovative places to grow and thrive, the director and superintendent of Catholic schools for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles told nearly 235 Catholic school educators and administrators at the Catholic Faith Formation Day Oct. 16 at St. Michael’s College in Colchester.
 
“Innovation does not mean iPads is every kid’s hands. You can be very innovative without technology,” Dr. Kevin Baxter said, explaining innovation is celebrating successes and improving on past performances. “Avoid staleness. We want to be a continually growing organization. We must be continually growing individuals.”
 
More than maintenance is needed, said Baxter, who is responsible for coordinating and implementing the vision for growth for Catholic schools in the archdiocese with a student population of 80,000 from preschool through grade 12. “Change is a requirement for growth.”
 
Innovation can come in such areas as technology integration, curriculum innovation and governance innovation. He encouraged his listeners to be bold and creative and not to be satisfied with always doing things the way they’ve always been done.
 
“In order to be a great school, you have to face the brutal facts of your current reality,” he said. “This is the seed of innovation.”
 
Baxter, a part-time faculty member in the School of Education at Loyola Marymount University, encouraged the creation of a culture in which people can be heard, not worrying about what cannot be controlled (like the economy or the increase in charter schools) and not losing faith.
 
St. Michael School in Brattleboro is poised to meet the emerging needs of 21st-century education and extend its tradition of excellence through a set of innovative changes, noted Principal Elaine Beam. At the heart of its principal initiative will be a  curriculum of classical liberal arts. "The new high school program, emphasizing academic excellence, will feature a classical  curriculum, an integrated program of instruction and  the introduction of seminar-style instruction," she said.

St. Michael's already has added a high school program.

She concurred with Baxter's remark, “We want to be a continually growing organization.” At St. Michael School, she added, "observing the need for innovation, and acting boldly to realize it, incline the school to continual growth."

Basing much of his talk on Pope Francis’ 2013 apostolic exhortation “The Joy of the Gospel” (“Evangelii Gaudium”), Baxter said Catholic schools — like the Church — must operate with joy because “the real mark of a Christian is joy.”
 
Yet he acknowledged that people live and work with barriers to joy: defeatism, “sourpusses” who can sap energy, competition from a technological society, conflict.
 
Baxter encouraged constructively dealing directly with persons with whom there is conflict and forgiving. “Forgiveness is a grace for ourselves,” he added, because holding on to a wrong “burdens us.”
 
To live and work with true joy, he emphasized, “we must have constructive debate and disagree at times but always be able to forgive. … The idea of forgiveness is crucial.”
 
Baxter called upon the school personnel to uplift others and bring them joy.
 
Lisa Lorenz, superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Burlington, interim principal of Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington and principal of St. Therese Digital Academy, welcomed the educators to the conference, told participants at the conference they are called “to be madly in love with God.”
 
“When you are, people feel it,” she said.
 
Also presenting at the event was Ben Walther, a singer, songwriter and worship leader.
 
Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne celebrated Mass for the formation day participants in the Chapel of St. Michael the Archangel.
 
The daylong event, sponsored by the Diocese, was an opportunity for the educators to deepen and focus on their faith.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Published in Diocesan

'Mill Girls' historical performance

A 14-member student cast at St. Michael’s College started work on Labor Day, which felt appropriate, for a new original play with music about the lives of 19th-century girls who worked the mills of New England towns like Lowell, Mass., and Winooski.
 
That rehearsal launched preparations still under way for performances on Nov. 2, 3, 4, 10 and 11 at 7 p.m. in the McCarthy Arts Center Theater. All performances are free and open to the public.
 
Created and directed by St. Michael’s theater professor, Peter Harrigan, the show “Mill Girls” features an ambitious musical score by the well-established Burlington-area talent Tom Cleary, who long has been involved with St. Michael’s Playhouse productions and other local projects. Cleary will lead a small band for performances, including his wife, vocalist and teacher Amber DeLaurentis, St. Michael’s Fine Arts Professor Bill Ellis on guitar and Stan Baker on cello.
 
“Mill Girls” as a concept for this year’s history-charged and socially conscious “Mainstage” production at the college arose as Harrigan, now in his 27th year of teaching, looked for new ways both to challenge himself as a director and teacher and to model different artistic approaches for students, he said.
 
The resulting production has been a semester-long teaching tool across multiple disciplines on the Colchester campus. For example, at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 19, in the McCarthy Recital Hall will be an “Academic Panel” discussing the issues presented by the play; Harrigan tapped a History Department colleague’s earlier research and knowledge as he wrote the play; and the student cast will present an abridged version of the play for Winooski school children based on lesson plans from colleagues in the college’s Education Department.
 
Harrigan said that in creating “Mill Girls,” he took the approach of creating a “collage” from primary sources, as he had observed and admired in earlier productions that he directed, including  “The Laramie Project,” “Mad Forest” and “Execution of Justice.” In each case, the authors used non-theatrical materials – newspaper articles, court transcripts, interviews, journal entries, to name a few – to examine historical incidents and create a script for a play, he said.
 
“When I directed these plays, I found that undergraduate actors were able to make a deeper connection to the emotional lives of the characters and the troubling incidents depicted in the plays, because it all ‘actually happened.’ With a theatrical collage project in mind, I searched for a story from the past that would speak to student performers, and audience members, in the present,” Harrigan said.
 
The fabric of history
 
He didn’t have to look very far since the Champlain Mill and the other industrial structures from the 19th century are still part of the local architectural landscape. But the stories of the original uses of the buildings and the people who labored within them are perhaps less known, he said. “As I began research on the American Woolen Company, I talked to my colleague in the History Department, Professor Susan Ouellette, about resources,” Harrigan said, “and she unveiled a sort of hidden history – the stories of young women who worked in the mills of Winooski – and many other towns, most notably Lowell, Massachusetts: how they contributed to the world but also challenged it – advocating for themselves and others.”
 
He explained how in the early 19th century, as industrialization slowly took hold in America, manufacturers found there were not enough workers to fill their mills and factories. Francis Cabot Lowell of Massachusetts wanted to erase the horror stories associated with mills in England and establish wholesome settings where farmers would allow their daughters to work. He pictured new brick factories built along rivers – to harness the power of the water, surrounded by rooming houses, supervised by the strictest of matrons and widows alongside churches, libraries and lecture halls designed to fill the young women’s leisure hours with appropriate educational and spiritual pursuits. Lowell died prematurely, but a town named for him was built in 1826, giving thousands of young women a new option for advancement in life. “Mill Girls,” through a play with music, tells their stories, in their own words.
 
Lowell was a sort of utopia in its early years, Harrigan said, but as mill-barons’ thirst for profits began to outweigh their concern for the young women’s welfare, a shift occurred. Although they were used to working long hours – sometimes 13 or more per day – the mill girls operating one machine were asked to take on two or three, and later as many as five. This made the work conditions much more challenging and even dangerous. Industrialists later decreased wages and increased the rents in the required, company-owned housing. Using the knowledge they had acquired through classes and lectures and the community bond created in their boarding houses, the young women began to push back, forming some of the earliest labor organizations in the United States. As the movement for the abolition of slavery grew, the mill girls discovered their connection to this great American sin: These underpaid young women in the North were processing the cotton picked by enslaved Africans in the South. The female operatives of Lowell and other New England cities joined with John Greenleaf Whittier and other abolitionists to advocate for justice and freedom for all.
 
 
Through the Oct. 19 “Academic Panel,” Harrigan hopes to maximize the learning potential of this unique production. Professor Susan Ouellette will share some of her extensive research on 19th-century working women in Winooski, Lowell and elsewhere; Miriam Block, director of the Heritage Winooski Mill Museum (and also a student in the college’s Graduate Education program), will talk about the museum and its mission; Harrigan will describe his process of assembling and adapting the play from primary source material; and Professor John Devlin will lead a tour of the partially completed "Mill Girls" set that he designed and talk about how his research is reflected in his scenic design.
 
This event is also sponsored by the St. Michael’s College Humanities Center.
 
Another related event  “Mill Girls at the Mill,” will be Thursday, Nov. 9, when student performers will present an abridged version of the play at the historic Champlain Mill for students from the Winooski Middle and St. Francis Xavier schools. St. Michael’s education majors, led by Professors Valerie Bang-Jensen and Jonathan Silverman, will present lesson plans and activities to explain and enrich the experience.
 
  • Published in Diocesan

Edmundite Father Michael Carter ordained

It was a joyful day of smiles, handshakes, hugs and congratulations as newly ordained Edmundite Father Michael Carter entered this new phase of his life in a spirit of hope, expectation and trust in God.
 
Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne ordained him to the priesthood Sept. 16 at the Chapel of St. Michael the Archangel on the campus of St. Michael’s College in Colchester.
 
In remarks at the morning Mass, the bishop reflected on joy, noting that Pope Francis encourages all to be people of joy. “Joy is not a mater of fleeting moments of happiness…but knowing we are in God’s hands even when we are struggling,” he said, noting that the joy of Christians empowers them to do great things. “The joy of the priesthood is knowing we are configured to Christ” while serving others.
 
As a priest, Father Carter’s personal focus will be continuing to build connections with a wide array of people, believers and non-believers, Catholics and non-Catholics. “One of the great mysteries of God is God's ability to work into people's hearts even if they are rigidly opposed to spirituality and religion. I hope I can be a conduit of that journey,” he said. “In keeping with the charism of the Society of St. Edmund, my emphasis is always on those who find themselves marginalized from the Church and from God. It is in the margins that the creative power of God is most fundamentally displayed.”
 
The Society of St. Edmund – celebrating its 175th anniversary – founded St. Michael’s College.
 
In his homily at the ordination Mass, Bishop Coyne explained that though God made His entire people a royal priesthood in Christ, Jesus chose certain disciples to carry out publically, in His name and on behalf of humankind, a priestly office in the Church.
 
“Impart to everyone the Word of God which you have received with joy,” he told Father Carter. “Meditating on the law of the Lord, see that you believe what you read, that you teach what you believe and that you practice what you teach.”
 
He asked that the holiness of the new priest’s life be a “delightful fragrance” to the faithful so that by word and example he may build up the Church.
 
During the Mass, Father Carter publically resolved to care for the Lord’s flock, to worthily and wisely preach the Gospel and teach the Catholic faith and to celebrate the sacraments faithfully and reverently for the glory of God and the sanctification of the Christian people. He also resolved to implore God’s mercy upon the people entrusted to his care and to be united more closely every day to Christ and to consecrate himself to God for the salvation of all.
 
During the Litany of Supplication Father Carter lay prostrate in front of the altar, then, after the Laying on of Hands, Prayer of Ordination and Prayer of Consecration at the ordination, Edmundite Father David Cray, pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Charlotte and St. Jude Church in Hinesburg, assisted Father Carter in his investiture with the stole and chasuble.
 
Father Carter knelt before the bishop who anointed his hands with holy Chrism. He later placed a paten and chalice in the newly ordained priest’s hands. “Know what you are doing and imitate the mystery you celebrate: Model your life on the mystery of the Lord’s cross,” he said.
 
Born in Burlington, the son of Richard M. Carter and Kathleen M. Carter attended Christ the King School through eighth grade then Burlington High School. A member of the St. Michael's College Class of 2012, he earned a bachelor’s degree in religious studies with a minor in political science. He received a master of divinity degree from Boston College in 2016 and worked in the clinical pastoral education program at the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington.
 
He chose the Edmundite priesthood because during his college years he was inspired by the sense of camaraderie and brotherhood the members of the Society of St. Edmund embodied and by the way certain members modeled for him a spirit of justice and activism that he had not encountered before. “Not to in any way downplay the tireless and faithful efforts of priests working in the parishes of the Diocese of Burlington, but for myself as an individual I never discerned that parish ministry was my primary vocation, therefore an order that had parish connection without being specifically a parochial order was intriguing to me,” he said.
 
Father Carter is currently an assistant to Edmundite Father Charles Ranges in the Essex Catholic community, teaches at St. Michael's College and assists in Edmundite Campus Ministry.
 
“Our [Edmundite] foundational ethos is a spirit of education and evangelization, particularly to those who may not otherwise hear of the love of God,” Father Carter said in an interview before his ordination. “Working in education at St. Michael's College, sometimes among a population that has never encountered the love of God, provides ample opportunity for that blessing. Needless to say, my home state of Vermont is mission territory writ large.”
 
Asked about his gifts that he brings to the priesthood, Father Carter said, “I think one is an ability (or at least a desire) to be able to connect with people on a level that makes them comfortable. That means having no preconceived notions, no judgments of any kind and no agenda when speaking with people other than to let them know that they are heard, that they are respected and that they are loved, by both myself and by God. Everything else in ministerial life stems from that.”
 
A sense of humor is also important. “I pride myself on a sense of humor. I take my work and mission seriously, but my own quirks and weaknesses allow me to laugh at myself,” he said. “A ministry without laughter is a ministry doomed to failure.”
 
To men considering the priesthood, Father Carter suggests they see the fun, humor and joy in this life as much as the difficulties and sacrifice: “There are elements of both present, but they should balance each other out.”
 
Also, he calls them to recognize that God loves each person as an individual. “Don't try to be someone or something that you are not. God makes particular demands on God's priests, but one of those demands is not to cease being a distinct and unique individual. It takes all kinds, and there is room in the priesthood for all kinds,” he said.
 
The last ordination for the Society of St. Edmund was in 2014 when Father Lino Oropeza was ordained at St. Michael's College.
 
Father Carter asked that anyone that is concerned about the state of the Church to think seriously about the men in their lives that they think may have a vocation or might make a good priest and mention it to them. “Be it for the Diocese, the Society of St. Edmund or elsewhere, actual talking and contact with people and setting an example is what makes vocations appear real,” he said. “Prayers are wonderful and beautiful, but prayer without action is robbing yourself of the most effective way that God works in the world.”
 
 
 
  • Published in Diocesan

Dr. Carolyn Woo to speak at diocesan conference

A former head of Catholic Relief Services will be in Vermont to speak at the “Action for Ecological Justice: Celebrating a Year of Creation” conference at St. Michael's College on Sept. 30 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 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.”
 
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.
 
Before working for CRS, Woo served from 1997 to 2011 as dean of the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business. During her tenure, the Mendoza College was recognized frequently as the nation’s leading business school in ethics education and research. It received and has retained top ranking from Bloomberg BusinessWeek since 2010 for its undergraduate business program.
 
Prior to the University of Notre Dame, Woo served as associate executive vice president for academic affairs at Purdue University.
 
She was one of five presenters in Rome at the release of Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment in 2015.
 
Her faith journey and work at CRS are recounted in her book, “Working for a Better World,” published in 2015 by Our Sunday Visitor.
 
Representing CRS, Woo was featured in the May/June 2013 issue of Foreign Policy as one of the 500 most powerful people on the planet and one of only 33 in the category of “a force for good.” Her Catholic News Service monthly column took first place in the 2013 Catholic Press Association Awards in the category of Best Regular Column—Spiritual Life.
 
Woo was born and raised in Hong Kong and immigrated to the United States to attend Purdue University where she received her bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees.
 
She is married to Dr. David E. Bartkus; they have two sons. Her parish is the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore.
 
The Vermont event at which she will be the keynote speaker is hosted by the Catholic Church in Vermont. Sponsors for the event include Catholic Relief Services; Oregon Catholic Press; St. Michael's College; the 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.
 
The conference at St. Michael’s College will be open to people of all faiths.
 
General registration is $35 per person and includes morning pastries, lunch and afternoon breakout sessions. Students can register for free.
 
For more information, call Stephanie Clary at 802-846-5822.

Originally published in the Summer 2017 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.
  • Published in Diocesan
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