Msgr. Peter Routhier, pastor of St. Augustine Church in Montpelier, lights a candle as a reminder to pray for state legislators.
Prayers for legislatorsMONTPELIER--A white candle burns in a red lamp just inside the front door of St. Augustine Church in Montpelier, a reminder to all who pass to pray for state legislators.
“One of the highest forms of charity is praying for people,” commented Phil Lawson, director of evangelization and catechesis for the Diocese of Burlington, who attended the 8 a.m. Mass in the Capital City church Jan. 3 at which the candle was lit for the legislative session that began the following day. “As people of faith, we can pray for our government leaders in their important responsibilities.”
Such a candle has been burning at St. Augustine’s during legislative sessions for more than a dozen years.
Msgr. Peter Routhier, pastor of St. Augustine Parish, invited members of the congregation at the Mass to gather near the candle as he lit it and acknowledge their desire to pray for government officials so they will enact laws that protect life and promote “the common good.”
Next to the candle hangs a reminder of the candle’s purpose: “As you pass this lamp, offer a prayer for our state legislature. We, the parishioners of St. Augustine, who share this city with the men and women who gather here from across our beloved state to serve in the legislature, keep this candle burning while the state legislature is in session, as a sign of our ongoing prayer that the Holy Spirit may guide them in wisdom, knowledge, counsel, understanding, fortitude, piety and fear of the Lord.”
St. Paul encouraged Christians to pray for the Roman leaders “regardless of politics,” Lawson said. “We pray in the Our Father: ‘…Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’”
He said the prayers for the lawmakers can help to “build bridges and make them aware we are here to pray for them and that they are always welcome here” and to affirm the dignity of their work.
In the prayers before the lighting of the candle, Msgr. Routhier prayed that legislators would execute laws with justice and mercy and seek to restrain crime, vice and immorality. “Let the light of your divine wisdom direct the deliberations,” he continued, “and shine forth in all the proceedings and laws framed for our rule and government.”
After the Mass, St. Augustine parishioners Bill and Maureen Moore agreed that having the candle at the door as churchgoers go in and out is a good reminder to prayer for the legislators. “Most of the time people are screaming and yelling at them,” Mr. Moore said. “It’s good to pray for the wellbeing of everybody and … the needs of people.”
The legislators “need prayers too,” his wife said.
The week after the legislative opening, Lawson plans to coordinate the distribution of flyers to the more than 180 members of the legislature with a picture of the candle, indicating the prayers being said for them and their intentions. The legislators will be invited to a Mass for them and their intentions on Tuesday, Jan. 31, at 8 a.m. A light reception will follow.
Bible StudyST. JOHNSBURY-- Bible Study will begin again on Wednesday, Jan. 18, at Corpus Christi Parish. Participants will meet at 6:30 p.m. in the adult education room at the Father Lively Center to study the Gospel according to St. Matthew.
Support for St. Paul SchoolBARTON—Last month a benefactor gave $60,000 to St. Paul School.
“I’ve been fortunate, and I give back to people who need it,” said developer and philanthropist Antonio Pomerleau after giving an oversized presentation check to St. Paul’s Principal Joanne Beloin and Father Timothy Naples, pastor of Most Holy Trinity Parish that includes St. Paul Church in Barton.
Pomerleau was like a “modern-day Santa,” Beloin said.
He “exuded a love of children,” she added, gesturing to make a connection to a picture of Jesus with children. “His roots are here, and he is very tenderhearted about what Catholic education means to his family.”
Pomerleau’s brother and sister attended St. Paul School; the family moved to Newport in 1927 where he attended the former Sacred Heart School.
Now a parishioner of Christ the King Church in Burlington, the 99-year-old businessman made his donation as part of the school’s celebration of its 120th anniversary.
Earlier this year, a campaign began to raise $120 from each of 120 donors, and when Pomerleau learned of the fundraiser – which accepts donations of all amounts -- he pledged to match what was raised.
As of mid December, St. Paul’s had received about 90 of the specific $120 gifts.
Funds raised from the anniversary campaign will be used for the school’s endowment, scholarships, facilities, an outside play space, general programs and technology upgrades.
“The school thrives because of all the gifts we receive in time, talent, money and prayers,” Father Naples said, noting that Pomerleau’s donation was “notably the largest.”
Because of his challenge, “more people have decided happily to donate gifts of varying amounts” from $1.50 to $20,000,” he noted, expressing gratitude for every contribution to the continuing campaign.
“I’m edified and happy to see this position [Pomerleau] has as a donor where he gives out of generosity and gratitude, and he is conscious as a Catholic of the Lord’s goodness which enables him to do that and other people to do the work that he contributes to,” Father Naples said. “He uses his riches to serve the Kingdom of God.”
During his 30-minute visit to the school, Pomerleau greeted students in the cafeteria, listened to a song they sang for him, presented the check and posed for photographs.
He told the children to be diligent and never give up. He was not from a wealthy family and had to work hard; now he is able to contribute to various charities so he does. “I’ve had a lot of success in my life and just passed it on. You can’t take it with you,” he said after the presentation.
Pomerleau was pleased with the school. “I had no idea Barton had a [Catholic] school half as good as that,” he enthused. He was impressed with the children’s polite behavior, the cleanliness of the school and the kind way the children are treated.
Beloin said enrollment is growing at the school, which has 78 students – up 10 from last year. The next graduating class – with 15 members – will be the largest in recent history.
Teachers have a combined total of 250 years of teaching experience; she described them as knowledgeable, experienced, wise and loving. “They want to be here,” she said. “Great things are happening here.”
The principal – who acknowledged all the contributions the parish makes to the school -- hopes the momentum the 120th anniversary campaign has created will continue to ensure quality education in this rural area of Vermont.
Donations may be sent to St. Paul School, 54 Eastern Ave, Barton, VT 05822.
Michaud ManorDERBY LINE-- Michaud Manor is a Level III residential care home operated by Vermont Catholic Charities. It offers assisted living services in a small home-like community that provides personal care, medication management, home-cooked meals, nursing overview and a variety of activities. The dedicated staff supports the needs of the whole person -- physical, emotional, social and spiritual.
For more information call 873-3152.
First Saturday MassST. JOHNSBURY-- At the request of a couple of parishioners, St. John the Evangelist Church now has First Saturday Mass at 8:30 a.m. on the first Saturday of every month.
- Written by Cori Fugere Urban
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