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SAINTHOOD CAUSE ADVANCED--The likeness of Solanus Casey is seen on the book cover of "Thank God Ahead of Time: The Life and Spirituality of Solanus Casey." Pope Francis has advanced the sainthood cause of the Wisconsin-born Capuchin priest. (CNS)

God's tenderness can soften the hardest hearts, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- God's compassion can change the rigid hearts of those who use his law to condemn others, Pope Francis said. A person with a hardened, "pagan heart does not allow the Spirit to enter" and often relies on his or her own strength and intellect rather than understanding God's will through humility, the pope said May 2 in his homily during Mass at Domus Sanctae Marthae. "They do not know that the Word became flesh, that the Word is a witness to obedience," the pope said. "They do not know that God's tenderness is able to take out a heart of stone and put in its place a heart of flesh." The pope focused his homily on the day's first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, which recalled the martyrdom of St. Stephen, who was stoned to death after denouncing the scribes and elders "as stiff-necked people" that "always oppose the Holy Spirit." Unlike the disciples at Emmaus whose hearts were opened after being reproached by Jesus as "foolish," the elders who stoned Stephen gave into their anger at being corrected. This, the pope said, is the tragedy of those "with closed hearts, hardened hearts."

Religious practices for Christians not influenced by education levels

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Although higher educated U.S. adults are typically linked with lower levels of religious practice, a new study by the Pew Research Center shows that Christians are the exception to the rule. Among Christians, those with higher levels of education appear to be just as religious as those with less schooling, and highly educated Christians are even more likely than less-educated Christians to say they are weekly churchgoers. Christians are also almost equally likely at all education levels to pray daily, attend worship services weekly and say they believe in God with absolute certainty. The study, released in April, shows that 52 percent of highly educated Christians are most likely to say they are weekly churchgoers, compared with 45 percent of those with some college and 46 percent with at least some high school. The tendency for Christian college graduates to practice their religion on par with their less highly educated counterparts is evident across a variety of Christian traditions, but among evangelical Protestants, the numbers are highest. Eighty-seven percent of evangelical Protestants with college graduates say they are highly religious. Those with some college education fall in at 83 percent; 82 percent of highly religious evangelicals have a high school diploma or less schooling.

Hungry, scared South Sudanese stay in cathedral compound for protection

WAU, South Sudan (CNS) -- Rita Williams slept under a tree beside St. Mary Catholic Cathedral, her three hungry children beside her. Around them, as many as 16,000 other displaced people filled the cathedral compound, hoping the church would keep them safe as their country spirals into greater violence. "I've been here two weeks, since the soldiers chased us out of our house and burned it," she said recently. "We have nothing, not even salt. Our clothes are dirty, and some days all we have to eat or drink is water. We're waiting. I don't know for what, but we're afraid to go back home." When civil war ripped apart South Sudan's fragile democracy in 2013, residents of this city in the country's northwest watched the violence from afar, seemingly unconcerned that the politically manipulated ethnic violence would spread here. And then it did, and the victims ran for the city's churches. "It wasn't safe anywhere, but people said that if they were going to be killed, they preferred to be killed in the church because this is the place that Jesus is present. They wanted to die in the church rather than die in their homes," said Father Germano Bernardo, a priest in Wau. Although tensions had been building for months, last June intense fighting broke out between soldiers of the Sudan People's Liberation Army, who are mostly members of the dominant Dinka tribe, and a mixture of local opposition groups and members of other ethnic communities. On June 23, the violence spread into the center of Wau, where two members of the cathedral choir were killed.

To evangelize, one must get up, go out and listen, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The best formula for Catholic evangelization is "go and listen," not "go and proselytize," Pope Francis said. "All men and women have a restlessness, whether good or bad, in their hearts. Listen to that restlessness," the pope said May 4 during his early morning Mass. The first step in sharing the faith, he said, is always to go out and the second is always to listen to the joys, questions and concerns of the people one meets. To evangelize one must know what the other person thinks. "But if they have wrong ideas? I want to hear those wrong ideas in order to understand where the restlessness comes from," he said. Pope Francis told those attending Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae that the first eight chapters of the Acts of the Apostles, used for the Mass readings in the Easter season, "summarize the whole history of the Church," from the initial preaching of the apostles, to the miracles and persecutions, but also the "ugly sin" of those like Ananias and Sapphira, who used their position in the early Christian community for their own gain.

Irish Jesuit, Protestant gentleman-turned-Catholic healer, to be beatified

DUBLIN (CNS) -- When Jesuit Father John Sullivan is beatified May 13, two archbishops -- one Catholic and one Anglican -- will present the solemn petition asking that the priest be declared "a blessed." That is unusual, but Father Sullivan's life straddled two centuries, two traditions and two cultures. Born in 1861, one of five children, John Sullivan grew up in privileged conditions in Ireland and Britain. He was raised in the Protestant tradition of his father, Sir Edward Sullivan, who rose to be lord chancellor of Ireland. His mother, Elizabeth, was a devout Catholic. Father Sullivan later wrote of "a blessed childhood in a happy, loving home" although, at age 16, he suffered the loss of an older brother through drowning. In Trinity College Dublin, he excelled in his studies of the classics. He was an avid player of tennis and the card game whist and was dubbed "the best-dressed man in Dublin." Society mothers viewed him as a major trophy in the matrimonial mart. In 1885, the year of his father's death, Sullivan went to London to study law. He traveled extensively, and even considered becoming a monk at one of the Orthodox monasteries on Mount Athos in Greece. A shy, remote figure, he was nonetheless popular and known for his kindness. His search for God is fictionally recreated in Ethel Mannin's book "Late Have I Loved Thee." In 1895, he traveled as part of a British government delegation to investigate a massacre in Adana, Turkey. A year later, at 35, he became a Catholic.

Thoughts of the upcoming synod

By Father Thomas Mattison, pastor of Christ our Savior Parish in Manchester Center and Arlington

Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne has convoked a diocesan synod. What? Why? And why care?
A diocesan synod is a legislative action by which a diocesan bishop, after broad consultation, establishes the laws that will govern his diocese. But, we thought the pope made the laws! Well, he does – for the universal Church. But it is obvious that the situation of the Church in Vermont is different from that of the Church in Africa. So, the Church in Vermont will need to have rules and procedures that it will use in applying the universal law.
Moreover, Vermont may well have unique needs, unforeseen by the universal law, that require unique approaches and treatment.
Let me list a few:
‐ Vermont is divided in two by the Green Mountains; east-west travel takes a disproportionate amount of time.
‐ Burlington is a long way from the whole of southern Vermont. (Bennington is closer to the sees of Albany, N.Y; Springfield, Mass.; Worcester, Mass.; and Manchester, N.H. than it is to Burlington.)
‐ The population of Vermont is concentrated in Burlington, as is the wealth and everything else but the scenery.
‐ The rest of the population is scattered in small towns and villages.
‐ There is little industry in Vermont and, so, few jobs for our youth.
‐ Thus, the population of Vermont is weighted to the gray end.
‐ More Vermonters describe themselves as “church-less” than in any other state
‐ Of these, 60 percent call themselves “ex-Catholics.”
The Catholic Church in Vermont, since it is made up of Vermonters, reflects all of these issues. Obviously, then, the Catholic Church in Vermont faces challenges and has opportunities that must be met and seized that the universal law of the Church could not have imagined.
One might just decide to leave each scattered little population center to work things out for itself. The ensuing chaos is not hard to imagine, but it is very hard to imagine that this would create a meaningful Catholic presence in the state as a whole. Besides, such “congregationalism” is absolutely antithetical to the very meaning of “catholic.”
So a synod is necessary:
‐ to assure that every section of this “scattered” diocese is heard
‐ that the religious needs of every section are met
‐ that the pastoral priorities of the diocese as a whole are clearly laid out
‐ that lines of communication and responsibility are well defined
‐ to draw up fair and uniform policies for the allocation of assets – money, personnel, buildings
‐ to define criteria for the creation, modification or closure of any Church ministries.
A synod is big business. Its work will touch every single one of us. We should watch its work, support its outcome and pray for universal wisdom and charity.
For more information on Father Mattison’s parish, go to christoursaviorvt.com.


BURLINGTON-- Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne will ordain Deacon Joseph J. Sanderson to the Roman Catholic priesthood on Saturday, June 17, at 10 a.m. at St. Joseph Co-Cathedral in Burlington.
The ordination will be a special time for clergy to meet in a spirit of fraternity and camaraderie, as they, along with the faithful of the Diocese of Burlington, celebrate the Mass of Ordination to the Priesthood.
Deacon Sanderson grew up in Orwell and attended Our Lady of Providence Seminary and Providence College, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy. He did his major seminary training at St. John's Seminary in Boston.
The Rite of Ordination includes a Litany of Supplication in which the Church invokes the intercession of the saints and martyrs in heaven to intercede for the candidate and the entire pilgrim Church on Earth, asking for God to pour forth His grace and mercy. During the litany, Deacon Sanderson will lay prostrate at the foot of the steps in front of the altar.
The bishop will place his hands on the head of the candidate. Through this Laying on of Hands by the bishop and the prayer of ordination, the gift of the Holy Spirit for the priestly office will be conferred on the candidate.
The bishop will anoint the hands of the newest priest of the Diocese of Burlington with sacred chrism and place in his hands the bread and wine – on a paten and in a chalice, respectively -- pointing to his duty of presiding at the celebration of the Eucharist and of following Christ Crucified.
The faithful of the Diocese of Burlington are invited and encouraged to attend the ordination.

100th anniversary of Marian apparitions at Fatima

Special devotions to celebration the 100th anniversary of the Marian apparitions at Fatima, Portugal, will take place at seven churches throughout the Diocese of Burlington.
The first hour of devotions will include confession, a procession with the Marian statue and rosary, and the second hour will be the celebration of the Mass and the conferral of the Brown Scapular.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel made a promise to St. Simon Stock in 1251 that it would “be a sign of salvation, a protection in danger and a pledge of peace. Whosoever dies clothed in this scapular shall not suffer eternal fire.”
One of the children to whom Our Lady appeared in Fatima, Sister Lucy, recalled that the Blessed Virgin Mary wanted the devotion of the holy scapular to be propagated.
The schedule for the devotions is as follows:
May 13, 10 a.m.
Our Lady of Fatima Church
June 3, 10 a.m.
Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church
July 1, 9 a.m.
St. Augustine Church
July 15, 10 a.m.
Conversion of St. Paul Church
Aug. 12, 3 p.m.
St. Mary Star of the Sea Church
Sept. 9, 10 a.m.
St. John the Evangelist Church
St. Johnsbury
Oct. 7, 9 a.m.
St. Joseph Co-Cathedral

Conference for Music Ministers

COLCHESTER—“Sing Praise to God: A Conference for Music Ministers” will take place May 20 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at St. Michael’s College. The event is for singers, musicians, choir members, choir directors and people who enjoy singing. This will be a day of music, renewal and inspiration featuring OCP composers Jaime Cortez, Tom Kendzia and Bob Hurd. The cost is $25 per person (caps at $200 per parish). For more information and registration: ocp.org/en-us/sing-praise-to-god. For more information, call Josh Perry at (802) 658-6110 ext. 1460.

Conference for Music Ministers 

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington cordially invites you and your family to attend the annual Memorial Day Mass to be celebrated on Monday, May 29, 2017 at 10:00 am in Resurrection Park Cemetery on Hinesburg Road in South Burlington.  We are pleased to announce that The Most Reverend Christopher Coyne, Bishop of Burlington, will celebrate the Mass.

We ask that you bring a chair and an umbrella for shade if necessary. Parking is available in the cemetery or at St. John Vianney Church, adjacent to Resurrection Park Cemetery.  In the event of rain, Mass will be celebrated at St. John Vianney Church.

Project Rachel

Are you suffering because of abortion? Hope and healing are available through Project Rachel and Rachel’s Vineyard retreats.
Project Rachel is a healing ministry for individuals who have been affected by abortion, helping them to grieve, receive forgiveness and find peace. Rachel’s Vineyard Weekends for healing after abortion follow a retreat model developed by Teresa Burke, who started this ministry for post-abortive women in 1986. 
Rachel’s Vineyard retreats, available in dioceses throughout the United States, offer a supportive, confidential and non-judgmental environment where women and men can express, release and reconcile painful post-abortion emotions to begin the process of restoration, renewal and healing. 
For information about both programs or to register for a retreat contact the Respect Life Office of the Diocese of Burlington at 658-6110.

Discernment retreat

ISLE LAMOTTE--From June 16-18, there will be a retreat at St. Anne’s Shrine for young people discerning God’s call. This retreat is for any young person trying to find his or her calling in life. The retreat will begin at 6 p.m. on Friday and conclude about noon on Sunday. Contact Father Lino with questions or to register at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or via the Society of St. Edmund at 802-654-3400.

Msgr. Ball Memorial Golf Tourney

BOLTON—Registration is open for the seventh annual Msgr. Thomas J.
Ball Memorial Open sponsored by the Knights of Columbus St. Stephen’s Council #2284. It is scheduled for Saturday, May 20, at West Bolton Golf Club. There will be a scramble format with an 8:30 a.m. shotgun start. The $300 team entry fee includes greens fees and carts, prizes, breakfast, lunch, hors d’oeuvres reception and a commemorative embroidered golf polo. There will be a chance to win a 2017 BMW X-3. There will be A Million-Dollar Shootout and an $80,000 Shootout. All proceeds benefit the Diocese of Burlington. For more information, contact Greg Clairmont at 802-343-8446 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Shrine opening

ISLE LAMOTTE—St. Anne's Shrine will reopen for the 2017 pilgrimage season on Saturday, May 20, with the 7 p.m. Mass. Also, Mass will be celebrated on Sunday, May 21, at 10:30 a.m. A 9 a.m. Sunday Mass will be added to the schedule on June 18, and a weekday 11:15 a.m. Mass will begin on June 26. Call or stop by the office for the calendar of events. For more information: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (802) 928-3362.
Bishop's Fund Annual Appeal