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Vermont Catholic Community Foundation tops $10 million

The Vermont Catholic Community Foundation has completed its first year of providing the Catholic community with a choice to establish endowments for what matters most to them and leave a legacy of faith for the next generation.
 
The foundation currently includes 32 funds and more than $10 million supporting Catholic ministries throughout Vermont, an increase of 12 funds and $2.5 million since June 30.
 
More than 70 people joined the Vermont Catholic Community Foundation Board of Directors and Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne to celebrate a successful first year at an Oct. 25 meeting at Shelburne Museum’s Pizzagalli Center for Arts and Education. 
 
Ellen Kane, executive director of the foundation, said that it was only because of the “support and trust of so many people in the room and the grace of God who makes all things possible” that during its first year the foundation was able to establish 20 funds and $7.5 million to support Catholic schools, parishes, cemeteries, ministries and charities throughout the statewide Diocese. 
 
Kane added that most Catholic Dioceses have a community foundation separate from the Diocese to support the growth of their ministries and ensure the vitality of their parishes, schools and charities, because of a lack of funding sources for religious organizations. Out of 181 dioceses nationwide, 143 have a Catholic foundation. Many were begun in the 1980s and have grown from a few funds to several hundred.
 
“Imagine how the Catholic faith could grow in our state if every school, parish and ministry had an endowment fund that matured over time and provided a reliable source of annual income so they could focus on other things,” Kane said, “like providing scholarships to more students, increasing youth ministry and adult formation programs, providing more emergency aid to families in financial crisis, meeting the needs of more low-income elderly in our assisted living programs, and the list goes on.”
 
Jon Pizzagalli, newly appointed chair of the foundation’s board, said the foundation offers “an opportunity for the lay community to get involved in a way that wasn’t possible before.”
 
The foundation is comprised of a volunteer, mostly lay, voting board that will grow over time to represent every region of the state and give voice to the unique issues impacting each area.
 
“The days of the Catholic Church retreating are over,” Bishop Coyne said. “We have something to offer to the community, and we are here to stay.”
 
The Vermont Catholic Community Foundation is a separate 501(C)3 from the Diocese of Burlington and provides donors with a way to establish endowments for ministries that matter most to them and to leave a legacy of faith for the next generation.
 
To view the annual report and learn more about The Vermont Catholic Community Foundation visit: vtcatholicfoundation.org or contact Ellen Kane at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
 
  • Published in Diocesan

St.Therese Digital Academy enrollment increases

Enrollment at the Diocese of Burlington’s St. Therese Digital Academy has grown from four to 52.
 
Principal Lisa Lorenz attributes the growth to several factors including grant money from Our Sunday Visitor and the Catholic Communications Campaign of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, word of mouth, courses for the Lay Formation Program Institute for Missionary Discipleship, the building of the digital academy’s own curriculum and existing brick and mortar schools using its courses.
 
St. Therese Digital Academy is an online diocesan Catholic high school with a rigorous program grounded in the firm foundation of the Catholic faith. The academy works with parents in their role as the primary educators of their children by providing flexible options to assist with the diverse educational needs of students and their families. Its goal is to develop well-grounded disciples of Jesus Christ who possess 21st-century skills, equipping them to fulfill their roles as members of the Body of Christ within society.
 
The digital academy offers high school courses and theology for the Lay Formation Program, with projections for catechetical classes for ongoing professional development.
 
“We are rolling out our own courses. We are beginning our adult theology classes and have projected to roll out courses for the Diocesan Lay Formation Program as part of the Institute for Missionary Discipleship. In addition, our courses are being used in our existing [Catholic] schools now with increasing interest,” said Lorenz, who is also superintendent of Catholic schools for the Diocese of Burlington and principal of Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington.
  • Published in Diocesan

Vocation in the Church: Universal and Primary

The first time I had a thought about a vocation I was a child. My sisters and I would play Mass in our home. Always on the search for the perfectly rounded Lay's potato chip for the host, we enjoyed the idea of bringing something so sacred into something so familiar. 

National Vocation Awareness Week begins Nov. 5 and continues throughout the week as a way to teach and encourage our young people about the gift and variety of different vocations in the Church. This week we celebrate two aspects of Vocation in the Church: the Universal and the Primary. The universal call from God to each and every one of us is that we conform our lives to that of God’s Son, Jesus. Through our communion with Him we are sanctified, meaning we are made saints. The primary, or what is commonly referred to as "the big V vocation" in one’s life, is how we live that universal call to holiness. 

By Baptism we are consecrated to God, set apart for God’s purposes. As God’s life in us is strengthened by confirmation and nourished by the Eucharist and Reconciliation, we prayerfully begin to discern our state in life: ordained life, consecrated life or the life of the laity.

In the ordained state of life, a man may hear the Lord calling him to serve the Church as a deacon, priest or bishop. Each of these offices has particular graces and particular responsibilities for the building up of God’s holy people.

If someone is drawn to consecrated life, he or she may consider several different ways that God may be calling: as a consecrated virgin living in the world; to apostolic religious life (sister or friar); as a member of a secular institute or a contemplative institute; as a diocesan hermit; or as part of a monastic community as a monk or a nun.

In the lay state, a person discerns between married life and dedicated single life.
 
Although the focus of this week in our parishes and schools may highlight one vocation or another, the goal is to help raise awareness about the various possibilities within the Church for persons to explore how the Lord is asking them to make a gift of their lives and a gift of their love to others. 

Together, let us build a culture of vocations where our youth are inspired by the idea of the sacred coming close to them and in which the guiding principle for their lives becomes this prayer of their hearts, “God, help me to want what you want for my life.”

Check out a video featuring the priests of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington responding to the question, “What do you love most about being a priest?”
 
For more information and resources on National Vocation Awareness Week, visit: Vianney Vocations and the U.S. Conference o Catholic Bishops.
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Father Jon Schnobrich is the director of vocations for the Diocese of Burlington.

This article was first published in the Nov. 4-10, 2017, issue of
The Inland See bulletin.
 
  • Published in Nation

Catholic Campaign for Human Development collection to return

The Diocese of Burlington again will participate in the annual collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.
 
The appeal will take place the weekend of Nov. 19, the weekend before Thanksgiving and the first ever World Day of the Poor; 25 percent of funds collected will remain in the Diocese to fund local anti-poverty projects, and the remainder is distributed nationally through grants.
 
There are more than 46 million people in the United States living in poverty, and this collection supports programs to empower local communities to address the challenges they face. The Catholic Campaign for Human Development supports those living in poverty across the country to identify and address the unique obstacles they face as they work to lift themselves out of poverty. “By supporting this collection, donors are giving those on the margins a hand up, not a hand out,” said Mary Beth Pinard, diocesan director of CCHD and executive director of Vermont Catholic Charities Inc.
 
CCHD supports grassroots organizations that work to bring permanent and positive changes to their communities through community development grants, technical assistance grants, economic development grants and national strategic grants.
 
Community development grants range from $25,000-$75,000 and work to nurture solidarity between people living in poverty and those who do not. Projects funded by these grants empower those living in poverty to identify and take action to change problematic systems and structures in their communities.
 
Economic development grants range from $25,000-$75,000 and support community-based organizations and businesses that create just workplaces, provide quality jobs and develop assets for low-income people. 
 
National strategic grants range from $200,000-$500,000 and fund projects that promote justice and economic development on a significantly larger scale.
 
Vermont has two organizations that have currently received national grants from CCHD: The Center for the Agricultural Economy and Vermont Interfaith Action.
 
The Diocese of Burlington participated in the national CCHD collection until 2010 when it instituted The Bishop deGoesbriand Appeal for Human Advancement to raise money to support local non-profit organizations that make a difference in the daily lives of Vermonters. That specific collection will not be taken.
 
 
 
 
 
  • 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

Culture Project

The Culture Project envisions a world where the dignity of the human person is at the forefront of every relationship, law and societal structure.
 
In collaboration with The Culture Project, the respect life and youth and young adult ministry offices of the Diocese of Burlington are offering a series of retreats on the topics of human dignity and chastity at five locations in Vermont during November. 
 
Please contact the individual parish hosts for information about their retreats:
  • St. Jude Parish, Hinesburg, Nov. 4, 2017 (morning), This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • High School Youth Retreat, Dumaine House Retreat Center, Jacksonville, Nov. 4 (evening), This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Christ the King Parish, Rutland, Nov. 5 (morning), This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Sacred Heart St. Francis de Sales Parish, Bennington, Nov. 5, (evening), This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Holy Angels Parish, St. Albans, Nov. 11 (afternoon), This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The series is the result of a survey last spring conducted by Carrie Handy, respect life coordinator for the Diocese of Burlington. She questioned directors of religious education, youth ministers, pastors and confirmation teachers about several areas of pro-life ministry and their needs. “One thing that came up repeatedly was the need for help bringing effective chastity/pro-life speakers to talk to high school aged students,” she said. “Parishes indicated a willingness to collaborate either regionally or by deanery, and this is the project that emerged.”
 
According to its website, The Culture Project International is an initiative of young people set out to restore culture through the experience of virtue. “We proclaim the dignity of the human person and the richness of living sexual integrity, inviting our culture to become fully alive,” it states.
 
Members of the team make a commitment of at least one year of their life to enter into a program in which they themselves live and pray in community, receive formation and are sent out on mission nationally and internationally. They give presentations to youth about the dignity of the human person and about sexual integrity.
 

Donation of sacred vessels

The Montreal-based Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph – the religious order that founded the former Fanny Allen Hospital in Colchester – has made a significant donation of sacred vessels to the Diocese of Burlington.
 
In June, the sisters officially transferred ownership to the Diocese of a monstrance and a chalice that had been stored in the chapel at what is now the University of Vermont Medical Center’s Fanny Allen Campus; a ciborium, given in 1947 in memory of the nurses in both World Wars, which was once stored at Fanny Allen but moved to the Diocesan archives for temporary storage in 1993; and a chalice and paten, given to Bishop John S. Michaud, second bishop of Burlington, in 1903 by the Religious Hospitallers and have been in the sacristy at St. Joseph Co-Cathedral in Burlington. He requested the order send sisters from Montreal to open a Catholic hospital in 1894.
 
The replacement value for the sacred vessels is nearly $44,000.
 
According to Sister Rose-Marie Dufault, the Religious Hospitallers’ contact person, the sacred vessels had been left on loan to the Diocese when the sisters closed the Fanny Allen convent and moved to Our Lady of Providence Residence in Winooski in 2010.
 
“Evidence was discovered that these items were still related to the community but had been in Vermont for a number of years, and the community wished to bring some closure to their records,” explained Kathleen Messier, assistant archivist for the Diocese of Burlington.
 
The donated items were a monstrance in the sunburst style, made of brass and gold plated; a Neo-Gothic ciborium made of sterling silver and gold plated; a late Romanesque-style chalice, made of sterling silver and gold plated; and a Rich Gothic-style chalice made of silver and gold plated.
 
The items have been appraised by Adrian Hamers Church Interiors Inc., in Larchmont, N.Y.
 
Currently, all of the sacred vessels are at the Diocesan archives.
 
Sister Dufault coordinated the group that worked on the transfer of the ownership of the sacred items: Messier; Marie–Pierre Courchesne, archivist for the General Administration of the Religious Hospitallers in Montreal; and Georgette Seagle, a Religious Hospitaller associate from South Burlington.
 
“Today, as the diocesan archives are the official owners of such sacred vessels and serve as the permanent repository for some of our Church’s most valuable items, it is important to note that the mission of archives is reflected in the heritage of the Diocese of Burlington,” Messier said.
 
The mission of the Diocesan archives is to collect, organize, preserve and make available for research the historical and vital records of the Diocese of Burlington as well as materials which reflect the work of the Church within the Diocese in order to promote an understanding and cultivate an appreciation of the Catholic Church’s history and heritage in the State of Vermont.
 
--Originally published in the Fall 2017 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.

Action for Ecological Justice conference

A former president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States, brought a message of hope to the Diocese of Burlington, telling more than 200 people at a conference on ecological justice that though “we are in the midst of a crisis,” it is important to focus on what can be done to take better care of the Earth.
 
“Our actions do matter, and there are things we can do to make a difference,” said Dr. Carolyn Woo, the keynote speaker at Action for Ecological Justice: Celebrating a Year of Creation, Sept. 30 at St. Michael’s College in Colchester. The Year of Creation is a yearlong, statewide, intentional focus on embracing the message of Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical letter, “Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home.”
 
“Hope is where you believe that action can make a difference,” Woo said.
 
The Catholic Church in Vermont presented the conference, the signature event of the Year of Creation called for by Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne.
 
Among the responses to climate change, which disproportionately affects the world’s poor, Woo suggested responses such as land and crop adaptations, watershed management, alternative farming techniques, alternative crops, water service and community capacity building.
 
She also suggested socially responsible investing with companies that have good ratings for healthy living, clean water, renewable energy, zero waste and disease eradication. “You don’t have to sacrifice [financial] returns,” she added.
 
Woo said there is momentum in the area of clean energy, noting that 21 states score in the top 10 in at least three of the 12 Union of Concerned Scientists metrics that include energy savings, power plant pollution reduction, clean energy jobs and electric vehicle adoption.
 
Vermont is number two in that overall scoring, second only to California.
 
Woo encouraged the creation of “green jobs” in areas such as wind and solar power and sustainable issues, and she asked her listeners to encourage young people to pursue careers in this industry.
 
To reduce carbon emissions in the environment, she suggested the use of wind turbines, plant-rich diets, solar farms, natural family planning, reduced food waste and refrigerant management.
 
Care of the Earth, she emphasized, “transcends politics.”
 
"The state of creation affects everyone. We must work together to create a more sustainable future for all," said Stephanie Clary, manager of mission outreach and communication for the Diocese of Burlington and coordinator of the conference.

Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne opened the conference with a moment of silence for victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. 
 
The daylong conference included various workshops including one titled, “Engaging the Parish: How Do I Invite Others to Join Me,” facilitated by Chris West who directs the Partnership, Training and Engagement Unit of Catholic Relief Services and David Mullin, executive director of Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity in Northwestern Vermont.
 
They emphasized the importance of using inviting language when encouraging others to join in parish ministries, rather than telling people they “should” get involved.
 
Identify, invite, and encourage -- three steps West said bring more people into ministries.
 
Mullin said that if people are “interested in moving a cause forward, expose your passion for it” to attract others to it.
 
In his breakout session, “Can Economics Save the World?” St. Michael’s College Associate Professor of Economics Patrick Walsh asked participants, “Why are we hurting the environment?”
 
Answers included: to accommodate a growing population, because people are disconnected from nature, market forces, cultural and lifestyle expectations, ignorance and greed.
 
A way to explain people’s behavior is to know what incentives they face, he explained.
 
For example, shoppers might shy away from one item that is too expensive, considering “the price told me not to” buy it. But they might purchase a sale item because “the price made me do it.”
 
Incentives for reducing carbon emissions include carbon taxes and limited government permits for carbon emitters. “If it’s costly to ‘go green,’ it’s going to be an uphill struggle,” Walsh said.

Allison Croce, a sophomore at St. Michael's College from Abingdon, Md., said her Catholic faith and her passion for the environment were the reasons she attended the daylong conference. "We all share the Earth, so we should all conserve [resources] and promote justice for all," said the environmental studies major.
 
Musician and songwriter Bob Hurd concluded the day with a variety of songs related to justice, caring for the Earth, the sanctity of life and peace, some based on “Laudato Si’.”
 
He connected Jesus’ living, dying and rising to healing and the glorification of all creation. “Every celebration of the Eucharist acknowledges creation,” he said.
 
Carolyn Meub, executive director of the Rutland-based Pure Water for the World, said attending the conference “really motivated me to look at my own actions because I believe my actions are making a moral statement” – like composting and doing business with ethical companies.
 
Rose-Marie Santarcangelo of Sacred Heart St. Francis de Sales Church in Bennington drove nearly the length of Vermont to attend the conference because of its subject matter. “More people need to be involved…to save this planet,” she said.
 
Lisa Gibbons, a member of St. Francis Xavier Church in Winooski, said the conference offered her a “great opportunity” to bring together two important parts of her life: her Catholic faith and care for the Earth.

"This Diocese is a light to help us understand what a Diocese can do in a holistic way to respond to climate change," Woo told Vermont Catholic. She praised the work being done in parishes and schools to educate, reduce, reuse and recycle and acknowledged the Diocese's efforts to collaborate with other faith groups and government organizations. "This is an inspiring example," she said.

Clary said the conference a success, commenting, "It's encouraging that so many people hold care for creation as an important part of their lives --whether Catholic or not. Hopefully today is just one of many collaborative efforts to work together in caring for our common home."
 
For more information about the Action for Ecological Justice conference, see the Year of Creation website.

 
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