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Cori Fugere Urban

Cori Fugere Urban

Cori Urban is a longtime writer for the communications efforts of the Diocese of Burlington and former editor of The Vermont Catholic Tribune.

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Digital Culture and the Missionary Activity of the Church

Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne was in Atlanta in June to speak at the Diocesan Information Systems Conference (DISC) and he said the missionary work of the Church is in American culture.

In this presentation, Bishop Coyne explored how digital culture is both an object of evangelization — “Digital culture itself needs to be evangelized, needs to be changed by the message of Jesus Christ” — and a vehicle for evangelization — “Digital culture can in so many dynamic and creative ways be a means of spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ and evangelizing people.”

The missionary work of the Church is no longer “out there,” he said. “It’s right here in our own culture…We are now missionaries.”

Many countries and many places in the First World or West that were Christian are no longer so, he pointed out. For example, in the last major census in France, 50 percent of the people self-identified as Catholic. “That may sound like a pretty good number — 50 percent — not bad. But when you begin to mine what that means, of that 50 percent less than 10 percent had anything to do with the Church let alone attend Mass. Even more, of the 50 percent who self-identified as Catholic, 19 percent said they didn’t believe in God.”

And while there has been an increase in the total number of Roman Catholics in the United States, most of the growth numbers have been within the Hispanic community. “We have lost many members of the faith within the older enclaves of Catholicism,” the bishop said.

Using digital media, he noted, one must understand it is morally neutral. “It is a means to an end, a way by which information is conveyed. It is neither good nor bad. What makes it good or bad is what we do with it.”

Bishop Coyne encourages people engaged digitally to “always do onto others as you would have them do onto you.”

He also suggested in work and play people sow the seeds of righteousness, goodness and Christ: “Be someone who scatters seeds of goodness on the road. Lift up the good examples of humanity and charity and grace. And, if you can, engage in some form of active ministry to others: feeding, housing, counseling, visiting, praying with and for, whatever it may be.”

For more than 30 years DISC has assisted the Church in maximizing investment in information systems. 

Membership in the Diocesan Information Systems Conference is open to all Catholic arch/dioceses and related entities. The membership roster includes people from computer services, financial services, communications and chanceries.

Article written by Cori Fugere Urban,  Vermont Catholic staff writer.

Rice alumna brings faith to life beyond high school

Rice Memorial High School alumna Emeline Gaujac has successfully bridged the gap between adolescence and adulthood, and she credits her Catholic high school education with fostering the “values and morals of what being faithful is all about.”

She is the daughter of Lisa and Roland Gaujac of Charlotte, parishioners of Christ the King Church in Burlington, and a 2010 graduate of Rice, located in South Burlington.

Now a resident of Somerville, Mass., she works as a designer at Prellwitz Chilinski Associates in Cambridge, Mass.

Gaujac, and several colleagues recently entered the Boston Society of Architects’ Northern Avenue Bridge Ideas Competition and won the People’s Choice Award for “Pivot Point Bridge.” The bridge, which opened in 1908, was closed in 2014 because of structural integrity concerns.

“The main goals of the competition were to improve mobility, honor history and create destination,” Gaujac said. “Our design kept the original structure and twisted the center portion on a pivot to reference the original innovative engineering of its time. The twist creates sweeping ramps that lead down to the water and establish a sense of place for the people to connect to the ocean.”

The contest drew 133 submissions, including 99 graphic designs and 34 essays.

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh said the ideas from the competition would be helpful in the design for the new bridge.  Gaujac hopes her firm will be selected to become an official consultant on the project.

Her job at Prellwitz Chilinski Associates now includes design in Schematic Design for proposals with towns and cities. “I have also been able to see a private company wellness center through Schematic Design to currently in construction,” she said. “I design everything from retail, to residential multifamily and mixed use. I work on a variety of projects all at once depending on their deadlines and the client’s needs and usually work on at least three projects a week.”

Gaujac earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Northeastern University in 2015. She is currently in the process of studying for credentials to improve sustainable design at the firm, which involves designing objects with the principles of social, economic and ecological sustainability.

Through her firm, Gaujac is also able to give back to the less fortunate. She volunteers with Canstruction (a food drive charity event) and has donated time to designing a Habitat for Humanity project.

Her firm hosts charity drives, such as Toys for Tots and On the Rise. Any money raised by one person each up to $500 will be matched by the firm for any charity. “Needless to say I love PCA because their values are in line with my own,” she said. “The culture here is amazing, and the people here never cease to amaze me in their selflessness.”

This culture reminds her of her experience at Rice. The teachers and staff there guided her to learn from her mistakes and taught her to make right decisions. “Rice was a bubble of goodness, faith and appreciation,” she commented. “The moral compass was consistently pointing you toward the right direction, and you knew when you weren’t headed there.”

Sister of Mercy Laura DellaSanta, Rice principal, said the values of goodness, faith and appreciation Gaujac mentioned are at the core of the school’s mission. There students learn those values in all aspects of school life — faith activities, academics, athletics, theater, community service — and they help one another, growing and learning from one another and the adults there to support them. 

“We are trying to feed the seeds within them and nurture the gifts God has given them,” she said. Rice as “a bubble of goodness, faith and appreciation” indeed “says it all.”

Leaving Rice and getting older “popped that bubble in a rude awakening that is the world we live in,” Gaujac continued. “Not everyone lives in a town like Burlington, and not everyone grew up understanding right from wrong in the most basic sense; for example, that every person should be treated with respect and are equal. Period.” 

She would like to become an architect and begin her own firm, one that designs buildings to create art and gives back to the community. She’d also like to be a part-time university architecture professor.

“​I am blessed to have found a profession that I love,” Gaujac said. “I finish work every day a little tired but always with a smile on my face.”

She tries to design to improve the quality of the way people live every day. “If I am successful, then the extra hours I choose to spend at work and at home will all be worth it,” she said.

Article written by Cori Fugere Urban, Vermont Catholic staff writer.
  • Published in Schools

Barton news 'boys'

Extra! Extra! 

Read all about it!

Two students from St. Paul School in Barton attended National History Day in June at the University of Maryland, bringing home to Vermont the award they won for their performance related to American Labor History.  

Hannah Poginy and Annika Socia – rising eighth graders — created and performed “The Newsboy Strike of 1899.” 

They dressed up as newspaper boys for their 9-minute skit about strike leaders “Kid Blink” and “Racetrack.” A panel of three judges asked questions relating to their research methods and the consequences of the strike. 

The Catholic Church has a well-documented tradition on labor and unions, rooted in the human right of association.

Pope Leo XIII’s 1891 social encyclical, “On the Condition of Labor” (“Rerum Novarum”) addressed the dehumanizing conditions in which many workers labor and affirms workers’ rights to just wages, rest and fair treatment, to form unions and to strike if necessary.

Madalyn Ledoux, religion teacher for grades 3-8 at St. Paul’s and Hannah’s maternal grandmother, said their newsboy strike topic is applicable to Catholic social teaching because the strike was one of the most successful labor strikes in U.S. history and resulted in major reforms regarding child labor. 

“Furthermore, it was primarily started and led by children,” she emphasized.

The 2016 history competition theme was “Exploration, Encounter, Exchange.”

Annika, 12, and Hannah, 13, focused their performance on the newsboy strike because they both like “Newsies The Musical,” a Disney Theatrical Productions stage musical based on the 1992 musical film “Newsies,” which was inspired by the Newsboys Strike of 1899 in New York City.

Working more than 100 hours on their project, the skit was a requirement in Susan Guilmette’s language arts class at St. Paul’s. 

The best friends first performed their skit in class then in April went to the Vermont History Day in East Montpelier, winning first place in the junior group performance with a superior rating and earning a spot at National History Day where they competed against about 100 other entries in their category.

With help from Peter Tarbox, who participates in local community theater, and Victoria Hughes, Vermont History Day coordinator, the winners of the Calvin Coolidge Prize in Vermont for an entry about something that changed America felt better prepared for the national competition, attended by several of their family members.

“We said lots of Hail Mary’s,” Annika said with a smile, referring to the nervousness the girls felt before their performance in Maryland. “It calmed us down and made us stop thinking about [being nervous,]” Hannah added.

Every year more than 3,000 students from throughout the world advance to the Kenneth E. Behring National History Day Contest in College Park, Md. Annika and Hannah created their costumes with clothing they had bought or borrowed. They smeared charcoal on their faces and clothing to resemble the newsboys who got dirty on the streets, used a cinnamon stick for a cigar and brought stacks of recycled Barton Chronicle newspapers as props.

“They were fighting for fair work conditions,” Annika said of the newsboys.

“You should treat your neighbors as yourself and your workers as yourself,” she added. 

“It doesn’t matter what your gender is or your age or where you’re from,” Hannah said.

Participating in the project helped her understand what children of the past endured. “For children, it’s really important to get educated first,” she said.

Annika was appalled that if the newsboys did not sell enough papers, they did not eat. “It made us think more about child labor,” Hannah said. “It was a hard life.”

Guilmette said the girls were “a joy to work with” because they have the “unheralded” quality of initiative which is “very, very important in life.”

Annika is the daughter of Rosa and Vincent Socia of Albany; they attend St. Mary Star of the Sea Church in Newport.

Hannah is the daughter of Alicia and Brandon Poginy of Barton and attends St. John Vianney Church in Irasburg where she is a lector.

Three other St. Paul School students qualified for the national history competition but chose not to attend.

National History Day 2017 will focus on “Taking a Stand in History,” June 11-15.

Annika and Hannah are already brainstorming their entry.

Article written by Cori Fugere Urban, Vermont Catholic staff writer.
  • Published in Parish

Mount St. Joseph Academy efforts produce rise in enrollment

As the 2016-2017 school year approaches, Mount St. Joseph Academy is heading toward its enrollment goal of 90 students.

With 83 students as of July 12, Principal Sarah Fortier was hopeful that the goal would be reached by opening day, Aug. 31.

When she arrived as principal in 2014, enrollment was at 66, just two away from the lowest enrollment, which happened the next year and a far cry from a high of nearly 500 in 1964.

“MSJ has struggled as all other small schools. A lot of it is demographics,” Fortier said.

But the hard work MSJ supporters have put into the enrollment situation is paying off. “MSJ is a wonderful community and people are starting to see first hand the type of education available and the caliber of students that are graduating from MSJ,” said the principal, a 1999 graduate of the Catholic high school. “We have had 100 percent college placement over the past three years.”

Also, the high school has partnered with The College of St. Joseph in Rutland so that any student who graduates from MSJ can attend the college for two years tuition free.

She attributes enrollment growth also to other positive things happening at the school: MSJ athletic teams have had tremendous success; the music program offers personal lessons to any student who would like them in any instrument. The faculty is dedicated to providing a top-notch education to all students. 

“We have incredible diversity in our student population, and students get a worldview while walking the halls at The Mount,” she said. “Most importantly, MSJ teaches the Catholic values and morals necessary to navigate life in a very trying world.”

As of July 11, there were 11 non-Vermont students enrolled in Mount St. Joseph Academy, but Diversity Committee Chair Paul Gallo said there was the potential for 16-20 by opening day.

“It’s just wonderful. They are bringing the ‘melting pot’ right to Convent Avenue in Rutland” where the school is located, he said.

Last year he and his wife, Ingrid, hosted two Haitian students, which he said was a “great experience.”

Many of the international and diversity students come to Mount St. Joseph to prepare for college and are the first in their families to go on to higher education.

Because of Rutland’s own lack of diversity, these students bring a “flavor of the world” to the school, said Gallo, a member of the Marketing and Development Committee. “It makes for a nice education for local kids, preparing them for the world today.”

“Out-of-state students are just like all the other students at MSJ,” Fortier said. “Specifically the students from New York City have come to MSJ looking for the opportunity for a better education in a safe environment. They bring a new worldview to our local students. Students from other countries have provided knowledge of the bigger world and have shared so much of their culture with us. It is a wonderful opportunity to have these fantastic kids with us!”

She said supporters of the school can help by spreading the word about the students’ successes, by bringing future “Mounties” to the school to see how wonderful the MSJ community is and by encouraging future students to participate in a “shadow day” to learn more about the school.

Students, too, are involved in attracting other students to the school. For example, several students left MSJ to go to another, bigger school. “After spending one year there, several decided to return because they missed our community,” Fortier said. “They have become very involved in getting more students to our school.”

Also, the student ambassador groups have been working with the school’s marketing committee. They have taken to social media to get in touch with students and to invite them to different events. 

As enrollment increases, Fortier said she is “glad to see that everyone is finally seeing the positive results.”

Completely dedicated to the mission of MSJ, she believes being principal there is a vocation to which she has been called. “I believe the MSJ community is the best Rutland has to offer. I have seen the education at MSJ change the lives of students. I also believe that being a graduate of MSJ put me on the right track for success in my life,” she said, vowing to work tirelessly to continue to grow the enrollment.  

Article written by Cori Fugere Urban, Vermont Catholic staff writer.
  • Published in Schools
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