Log in
    
Submitted Article

Submitted Article

Article selections and press releases submitted for publication with Vermont Catholic. Website URL:

Virtual prayer groups

By Carrie Handy, respect life coordinator for the Diocese of Burlington
 
How many times have you told someone, “I will pray for you,” after learning of a troubling diagnosis, a bereavement or a worry on that person’s mind? Prayer is something we Catholics do, for and with one another — from the highest form of prayer, which is the Mass, to private devotionals for particular intentions.
 
When it comes to building a culture of life, prayer may be considered the most powerful tool we have. Especially in a state like Vermont where abortion is widespread and assisted suicide is legal, movements like 40 Days for Life (40daysforlife.com) and Cenacles of Life (cenaclesoflife.org) offer tangible opportunities to pray and fast in solidarity with others who are committed to promoting the sanctity of human life. Unfortunately, it can be difficult for some people to find time to gather physically to pray.
 
Thanks to the tools of our modern age, however, a solution has emerged: virtual prayer groups. These take many forms, but their common feature is that members connect digitally around shared prayer intentions, allowing them to pray “together” wherever they are and whenever they can.
 
Many Vermonters participate in Nine Days for Life, a United States Conference of Catholic Bishops-sponsored novena for pro-life intentions that takes place nationwide during the nine days leading up to the annual March for Life each January in Washington, D.C. Participants register at 9daysforlife.com and are sent daily reminders and prayers via email, text or social media apps.
 
Social media platforms like Facebook also offer myriad public and private prayer groups devoted to specific causes. Informal prayer groups can arise organically and take a variety of forms; not all require members to be tech-savvy.
 
Lori Daudelin, who helps coordinate the diocesan post-abortion healing ministry known as Project Rachel, developed a prayer ministry called “Friends of Project Rachel Prayer Partners,” a community of volunteers who pray for participants in the Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat as well as those who call Project Rachel for support.
 
Daudelin sends requests to members using both email and surface mail outlining prayer requests. “Members’ time commitment is whatever they want it to be,” Daudelin explained. “They offer the prayers they feel led to.” She always is looking to add new members to this prayer community.
 
Pam King of Swanton, co-director of religious education at Immaculate Conception Church in St. Albans, leads a virtual prayer group which began spontaneously more than two years ago when a handful of friends agreed to pray a novena for a mutual friend who was experiencing troubled times. King sent daily reminders via text message to connect participants and to formalize their effort. Members texted “Amen” after they finished praying. The group continues with some 30 participants who receive either text or email reminders.
 
With input from the members, King identifies prayer intentions and searches out appropriate prayers to support them. “We have developed a kind of spiritual family where we support each other in times of need,” King explained, adding that it is a format that is easy to adapt to suit the goals of any prayer ministry. She often consults the website praymorenovenas.com to find suitable prayers for the group.
 
“Catholic Apptitude” (catholicapptitude.org/mission) is another online resource offering reviews of many digital apps devoted to prayer and devotions.
 
There are no limits to when individuals can pray, and now, with the availability of digital media, there are fewer limits to how and when we can pray together. 

Originally printed in the summer 2017 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.
 

Praying in secret

By Carrie Handy
Respect life coordinator for the Diocese of Burlington

 
In the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 6, Jesus exhorts His listeners: “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them,” and, “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites who love to stand and pray … so that others may see them.” Commenting on this, a priest I know said in a recent homily, “Most of us are pretty good at obeying this part of the Sermon on the Mount; it comes pretty easily for most of us.”
 
Pondering his statement, I wondered why that would be. Is it because in our modern culture, we are perhaps a bit too happy to have an excuse to hide our faith from the world? Here in Vermont, ostensibly the least religious state in the nation, being a Christian is often conflated with being a bigot and a hater. No one relishes that kind of calumny, but shrinking from our responsibility to be Christian witnesses to our faith may be helping to dilute its power in the wider culture and allow such error to flourish. Jesus didn’t intend for us to use His words as an excuse to let our faith disappear from the landscape.
 
Sadly, Catholic principles rapidly are disappearing from the landscape. Where they do exist, they are often the subject of criticism and ridicule. Opposition to abortion is translated into oppression of women; opposition to assisted suicide is framed as indifference to suffering. Believing in the complementarity of the sexes and that our sexuality and our physical bodies have a God-given purpose which must be respected, and which obviates abortion, sterilization, contraception, homosexual acts and same-sex marriage, to name a few examples, makes us judgmental haters.
 
Catholics today are called as never before to become informed about the truths of our faith in order to be able to explain the “why” behind the teachings that seem increasingly at odds with modern society. Unless we can articulate these truths within the wider culture, we run the risk of being swept up into a secular mindset that runs counter to basic Christian principles. As I’ve heard Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne say on more than one occasion, “The number-one purpose of the Church is to save souls.” Saving souls in today’s world means standing for truth, in charity, even when it’s hard.
 
We are called to be salt and light and leaven in the world. Standing for pro-life truths in particular can be extremely challenging in a state where abortion on demand and assisted suicide are legal. It is incumbent upon us to spread the pro-life leaven amid a culture of death and to help reignite our determination to protect the most vulnerable lives among us.
 
How to do that? Here are a few ideas:
 
* Educate yourself. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website has a wealth of material covering a range of topics related to human life and dignity: usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life- and-dignity/index.cfm.
 
* Educate others. Bring pro-life speakers to your parish and community. The Respect Life Speakers Bureau can help.
 
* Speak up. If putting yourself out there is uncomfortable, start small: Something as simple as occasionally sharing a pro-life article or quote on social media can signal to others that you are pro-life.
 
When someone in your midst displays ignorance about, or disdain for, your faith or pro-life views, “out” yourself as a believer. Don’t be afraid to let them know you disagree.
 
* Pray. Join or begin a digital pro-life prayer chain such as 9 Days for Life; volunteer for 40 Days for Life or Cenacles for Life.
 
* Participate. The Annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., in January and the Vermont Rally for Life in Montpelier offer opportunities to show the strength and breadth of the pro-life movement.
 
* Help. Donate to Birthright, Carenet or another pro-life pregnancy care center; reach out to an unwed mother in need; become a hospice volunteer.
 
In short, put your toe in the waters: Identify yourself as “pro-life” and follow the Spirit where it leads. Above all, while you pray to your Father in secret, do not be afraid to be a witness for life in the world.
 

Obituary: Edmundite Father Paul Pinard

Edmundite Father Paul Pinard, 85, died on June 12.
 
The son of Lucien and Bibianne (Blais) Pinard, he was born on Feb. 25, 1932, in Montpelier. He was a professed member of the Society of St. Edmund for 65 years and an Edmundite priest for more than 58 years.
 
Besides his brothers in religion, Father Pinard is survived by three brothers and a sister: Francis Pinard of Barre; Richard Pinard and his wife, Paula, of Winooski; Raymond Pinard and his wife, Vivian, of Galveston, Texas; and Marguerite Marie Worthing of Omaha, Neb.
 
Father Pinard was predeceased by his parents; his sister Jeanne d'Arc Verrett and her husband, Albert, of Plainville, Conn.; his sister, Madeleine Benoit, and her husband, Leonard, of Barre; his sister-in-law, Doreen Pinard; and brother-in-law, Daniel Worthing.
 
Father Pinard completed his undergraduate degree at St. Michael's College in Colchester in 1955 and, after completing his theological studies with the Society of St. Edmund, he was ordained a priest on May 22, 1959, by Burlington Bishop Robert F. Joyce. He continued his education at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., from 1959-1960 and at Fordham University in the Bronx, N.Y., from 1972-1973, graduating with a master’s degree in religious education.
 
Father Pinard served as assistant pastor at St. Elizabeth Mission in Selma, Ala., from 1960-1961, where he was also assistant director of the Don Bosco Boys Club. He served two parishes in Quebec: St. Anastase in Greenfield Park from 1961-1964 and Holy Cross in Rosemere from 1969-1972 and again from 1989-1991.
 
He worked as director of St. Anne's Shrine in Isle LaMotte, from 1964-1968 and as administrator of St. Amadeus Parish in Alburgh from 1967-1969. Father Pinard served on the Board of Trustees of St. Michael's College from 1984-1988 and was the procurator of the Edmundite Generalate in Burlington from 1991-1995. From 1995-2004, he acted as procurator and treasurer of St. Edmund's Retreat in Mystic, Conn.
 
He retired in 2004 to the Edmundite residence in Englewood, Fla., moving in 2013 to the Edmundite residence in Selma. He returned to Vermont in 2016, residing with the Edmundite community at St. Michael's College.
 
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at the Chapel of St. Michael the Archangel on the campus of St. Michael's College on Tuesday, June 20, at 10 a.m. Calling hours are from 8:30 to 10 a.m. at the chapel. Interment will take place at Merrill Cemetery, across the street from the college, immediately following the Mass. A reception will follow in the Edmundite dining room in Alliot Hall on the campus of St. Michael's College.  
 

Obituary: Sister Marie Anna Antoinette Lesage, RHSJ

Sister Marie Anna Antoinette Lesage, 84, a Religious Hospitaller of St. Joseph,  died at the motherhouse of the congregation in Montreal on June 2.
 
She was born on June 13, 1932, to Arthur and Anna (Brunelle) Lesage in Winooski. She was educated at St. Louis Convent and Mount St. Mary Academy. After graduation she received her bachelor’s degree in nursing.
 
She entered the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph on Aug. 11, 1952 and made her final profession on Aug. 22, 1959.
 
Sister Lesage served at the former Fanny Allen Hospital in Colchester and at hospitals throughout the United States and Canada as an operating room scrub nurse. After her retirement she returned to the motherhouse, making frequent trips to visit family and religious sisters at Our Lady of Providence Convent in Winooski.
 
Sister Lesage was predeceased by her parents and 11 siblings: Bernard (Anita), Rita (Celse) Martelle, Robert, Dollard, Lawrence, Louis, Lauretta (Roger) DuHamel, Lillian (Ferdinand) Cournoyer, Brother John, Norman and Rose Marie.
 
In addition to her religious sisters, she is survived by her brother, Andre Leo (Rocheline) Lesage of Florida; and sister, Cecile (Dr. Gerard) West of Pennsylvania; sisters-in-law Emily Lesage and Shirley Lesage, as well as many nieces and nephews.
 
A Mass of Christian Burial was June 9 at St. Francis Xavier Church in Winooski with burial in the cemetery of the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph in Colchester.
 
 
Subscribe to this RSS feed
Bishop's Fund Annual Appeal