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National Catholic Youth Conference

Participants in the National Catholic Youth Conference from Vermont pose with Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne (center) and Father Jon Schnobrich, vocations director for the Diocese.
The Diocese of Burlington participated in the National Catholic Youth Conference for the first time in almost 10 years in November. 
Twelve teens and adults attended the event at the Indianapolis Convention Center and Lucas Oil Stadium in Indiana.  They joined some 25,000 teens from throughout the United States. The contingent was joined by Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne and Father Jon Schnobrich, director of vocations for the Diocese of Burlington, for part of the event.
Abby from Newport wrote, "What made NCYC so incredible was being able to see that we are not alone in our faith. I come from a small area where my church community isn't that big. But being able to see 25,000 teenagers who all share the same faith is an incredible feeling." 
Tiferes from the Williston area wrote, "The people were so welcoming, everyone was so friendly and just happy to be there to experience the faith and calling together!"
Jacob, a participant from the Ludlow area, said that "NCYC was an experience of a lifetime. Seeing that many people in one place as one community in God was beyond inspiring.  Seeing the way the God compelled everybody was priceless. I would really enjoy going back in two years, and I would love to find a way to get more teens to join us in 2019.”
There were inspiring presentations and workshops, a fun interactive “Thematic Village” with music, opportunities to serve and to learn about mission work, meetings with priests and nuns from throughout the country and opportunities to learn about apostolates in the Church today.  There were evening keynote talks and concerts with TobyMac and Matt Maher.
Alysa, a senior from the Northeast Kingdom wrote, “It was truly empowering to be a part of a journey of faith with 25,000 teens from all over the country. The weekend was filled with pure joy, laughter, and friendships as we made memories, prayed together, and grew in our faith. We immediately became a community with the people we came with and the many people that we met along the way. At this conference, we would always take the time to talk to everyone we saw and get to know them. It was so easy to talk about our faith with those we encountered and grow in our love for Christ.”
The next National Catholic Youth Conference will again be in Indianapolis in 2019, and it is hoped that a larger contingent from the Diocese of Burlington will participate.
For more information, go to vermontcatholic.org/ncyc.
Vatican continues annual Christmas raffle for charity
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis' raffle to benefit those in need will give even more people a chance to win a gift once owned by the pope. Announcing the fifth annual raffle Nov. 30, the Vatican said tickets would be available for purchase online and in several areas accessible to the public, such as the Vatican Museums' bookshop and the Vatican post office or pharmacy. Tickets also will be sold at the Paul VI audience hall to those attending the Dec. 16 Christmas charity concert. "In this way, people will have an opportunity to make a double gesture of charity," said a statement from the Vatican City State governor's office. For 10 euros — about $11 — ticket buyers are eligible to win one of several items originally given as gifts to Pope Francis.
Miami archbishop: Fixing immigration system doesn't mean demonization
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Miami Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski said laws need to be changed to fix the country's broken immigration system, but in the process, immigrants should not be demonized. "Fixing illegal immigration does not require the demonization of the so-called 'illegals,'" said Archbishop Wenski, addressing an audience at a November event in Miami sponsored by the Immigration Partnership and Coalition Fund. "America has always been a land of promise and opportunity for those willing to work hard. We can provide for our national security and secure borders without making America, a nation of immigrants, less a land of promise or opportunity for immigrants." His comments were posted on the Archdiocese of Miami's website. Laws, he said, are "meant to benefit, not to enslave, mankind," and the laws in the country, regarding immigration, are too "antiquated" and "inadequate" to deal with the problem. "Outdated laws, ill adapted to the increasing interdependence of our world and the globalization of labor, are bad laws," the archbishop said.
Washington Archdiocese takes transit system to court over ad guidelines
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Archdiocese of Washington filed suit in federal court last month over the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's advertising guidelines after the transit system rejected an Advent and Christmas advertisement. The archdiocese seeks injunctive relief after WMATA, as the agency is known, refused to allow an ad promoting the archdiocese's annual "Find the Perfect Gift" initiative for the Advent and Christmas seasons. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The archdiocese contends WMATA's policy that "prohibits all noncommercial advertising, including any speech that purportedly promotes a religion, religious practice or belief," is a violation of the free speech and free exercise of religion clauses of the First Amendment and a violation of the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment. The WMATA's prohibition, the archdiocese contends, "violates the free speech rights of the Archdiocese because the prohibition creates an unreasonable and disproportionate burden on the exercise of the archdiocese's speech without any legitimate justification."
Buddhists, Christians must reclaim values that lead to peace, pope says
YANGON, Myanmar (CNS) -- Christians and Buddhists are called by faith to overcome evil with goodness and violence with peace, Pope Francis said during a meeting with leaders of Myanmar's Buddhist community. Quoting St. Francis of Assisi and Buddha, the pope insisted that in a land where the powerfully bonded pairing of religion and ethnicity have been used to prolong conflict, it was time for religious leaders to reclaim the greatest values and virtues of their faith traditions. Pope Francis met last month with members of the State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee, a government-appointed group of senior Buddhist monks who oversee some 500,000 monks and novices in Myanmar, where close to 90 percent of the population follows Buddhism. One of the strongest anti-Muslim and anti-Rohingya currents of Myanmar society is led by Buddhist nationalists. The meeting was hosted by the Buddhists at the Kaba Aye Pagoda and Center. The challenge of the Buddhist monks and of the Catholic clergy, the pope said, is to help their people see that patience, tolerance and respect for life are values essential to every relationship, whether with people of the same family or ethnic group or with fellow residents of a nation. The approach, he said, is common to both faiths.
Iraq Christians' status more stable but still precarious, say panelists
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Although life in Iraq for Christians has stabilized since the routing of Islamic State from the country, their numbers are down from 2014, when the militant group began its insurgency, with their towns largely wrecked and infrastructure in shambles. This was the assessment of panelists at a recent roundtable in Washington sponsored by the Knights of Columbus in recognition of a week of "Solidarity in Suffering" declared by the U.S. Catholic Church that began Nov. 26 to raise awareness of the situation of persecuted Christians throughout the world. Chaldean Archbishop Bashar Matti Warda of Irbil, Iraq, in the Kurdistan region in the country's north, said in 2014, when Islamic State made its first territorial gains, "we found ourselves suddenly caring for 15,000 Christian families, not including Yezidis," another religious minority native to the Ninevah Plains in the region. The Christians had fled from their homes further south in Iraq; the United States last year called Islamic State's atrocities in the region constituted genocide.
Tests offer new information on date of site believed to be tomb of Christ
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Scientists who helped restore a shrine above the site believed to be the place where Christ was buried say testing of samples has dated the tomb to at least the fourth century. The new information published recently by National Geographic is consistent with historical accounts that say Constantine, the first Roman emperor to stop persecuting Christians and who became one, began protecting the tomb around the year 326. In the fourth century, Constantine is said to have sent a team from Rome to the Holy Land in search of the site, and after the group believed they had located it, they tore down a pagan temple on top of it and protected the tomb. Over the centuries, the structures above the tomb have been the victims of natural and human attacks. At some point, a marble slab was placed on top of the tomb, perhaps to prevent eager pilgrims from taking home pieces of it.

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

It does not take much thought to come up with the names of a half-dozen of political heroes whose sexual adventuring has been quietly ignored so that their marble memorials need not be torn down because of their exploitation of others and the hurt visited upon families who need fathers – no matter how bad they may be as husbands, and movements that need leaders – no matter how sleazy and seamy their “private” lives may be.
The recent spate of revelations about what goes on in the upper reaches of the entertainment and news industries in this country may seem disconcerting, but these folks have almost always moved from marriage to marriage to marriage and no one batted an eye.
The priests who have exploited and even assaulted minors and needy parishioners are no better.
Wouldn’t you think that the rich and powerful could get along without such unseemly and shameful exploits? Or maybe that is just the problem! Behind the public face that each of us presents lives a person who knows how much energy goes into maintaining that face. That inner “self” knows how little it deserves the power, the influence, the prestige or whatever that the face attracts. The powerless-ness, the unworthiness, the insecurity of the inner self demand conquests that would seem too small for the public person.
But how else fill up the emptiness?
I have spent hours and hours and hours explaining to people why it is that the Catholic Church has not always been the strongest and most vocal supporter of various aspects of the women’s movement. Perhaps the teachable moment is here at last and now or never. Although the Church has always known that lust has a life of its own, it has also known that lust withers and dies in the presence of real self-giving love.
Indeed, lust thrives best in the dark inner uncertainty I talked about above that robs one of the sense that the true self could ever be a gift worth receiving by someone else. When someone has more power than he or she has real love and a willingness to give of oneself, then domination, competition and exploitation are all we can expect of them; not because of the power, but because of the failure to understand that love alone is credible – and ultimately acceptable – in human affairs.
The Church has been hesitant in its support of the feminism of the last few decades, not because it favors exploitation of women, but because that movement was too often cast in terms of power and competitiveness and equality. Women with power are as bad as men with power unless they each learn to understand that power and its processes are lethal to human flourishing. Men and women must learn to affirm each other’s worthiness to be a gift. Thus will they learn to give and receive without worrying about any lack of merit. After all, love cannot be merited.
Even the un-wise or un-wonderful or wounded can still become a gift to someone else. And any lack will not go away, but it will fade into insignificance compared to the gift that lies beside it in the giver.
For more about Christ our Savior Parish, go to christoursaviorvt.com.

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

The appearances of Our Lady of Guadalupe to the peasant Juan Diego in 16th- century Mexico, during which she miraculously left an image of herself on his cloak, are credited with converting millions of Aztecs to the Catholic faith and ending their pagan practice of human sacrifice. Because of this — and because she is pregnant in the image she left — she has become known as the Patroness of the Unborn. On her Feast Day, Dec. 12, it is customary to pray for an end to abortion: “Our Lady of Guadalupe, standing against the horror of abortion, we place the unborn among us underneath your mantle of protection. Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us!” The full prayer is here: usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/prayers-and-devotions/prayers/a-prayer-to-our-lady-of-guadalupe.cfm.

Retirement Fund for Religious

The Retirement Fund for Religious collection will be taken the weekend of Dec. 9-10. This collection provides assistance for the care of elderly Catholic sisters, brothers and religious order priests.

Register by Dec. 15 to attend March for Life

For more information about the 2017 March for Life go to marchforlife.org/mfl-2018.
Don’t miss the deadline to register for the March for Life bus trip to Washington, D.C. The Diocese of Burlington needs 40 registered riders by Dec.15 to ensure this trip. The bus will take pro-life groups, individual adults and families directly to the National Mall in Washington for the Jan. 19 March for Life events.
This bus is not for youth groups or minors travelling without parents. The Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries is organizing a youth group bus separately.
The bus will leave Jan. 18 in the evening and return Jan. 20 in the morning, travelling through the night in both directions. The cost: is $75.
Online registration is here:
For more information contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 802-658- 6110, ext. 1176.

Rally for Life events

MONTPELIER—Ryan Bomberger of the Radiance Foundation, author of “Not Equal: Civil Rights Gone Wrong,” will be the keynote speaker at the Jan. 13 Rally for Life in Montpelier sponsored by the Vermont Right to Life Committee Inc.
According to publicity materials, “Bomberger has a rather unique perspective of the innate nature of Purpose. His biological mother was raped, yet courageously gave him a chance to live and the beautiful gift of adoption. He was adopted at six weeks of age and grew up in a loving, multi-racial Christian family of 15. With siblings of varying ethnicities he grew up with a great appreciation for diversity. Ten of the
thirteen children were adopted in this remarkable family. His life defies the myth of the ‘unwanted’ child as he was adopted, loved and has flourished.”
To open the day’s events, Catholics are invited to join Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne for the annual Rally for Life Mass at St. Augustine Church, 16 Barre St. at 9:30 a.m. Mass will be followed by a coffee-and-doughnut warm-up in the parish hall before pro-life advocates gather behind City Hall to begin the march to the Statehouse at 10:45 a.m.
The Rally for Life will take place inside the House Chambers at the Statehouse.
Bishop's Fund Annual Appeal