This year Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne’s message for the Bishop’s Annual Appeal is quite different than in past years and addresses the immediate crisis the COVID-19 pandemic has caused us personally, has caused our parishes and has caused the Catholic Church in Vermont. Click to listen to the full message.

“Many are sick, and their loved ones are caring for them. Some are dying and being cared for by doctors, nurses and healthcare workers in hospitals. Many have been laid off from work. Our schools are closed. Our restaurants are empty. And the public worship of the Church is suspended,” Bishop Coyne said.

But “even when we are physically isolated, we are not spiritually so,” he continued. “Scripture reminds us that ‘God is near to those who call on Him’… when we pray, when we meditate and when we offer devotions, we are always joined with the Church, physically on Earth and in the High Church of Heaven.”

To help the Catholic community stay connected during this period of isolation, diocesan staff has been working on many creative ways to provide digital opportunities for prayer, worship (especially the Mass), daily scripture reflections, recitation of the rosary and so much more.

“We have embraced as many media outlets as we can to provide daily and Sunday Mass and faith engagement opportunities for people isolated at home, including live-stream, Zoom, Facebook Live and more,” said Ellen Kane, executive director of development and communications. “Our Holy Week services had more than 1,500 viewers, requiring us to upgrade our live-stream package.”

Click for the weekly online schedule and resources.

Meanwhile, Catholic schools are continuing to provide remote learning to nearly 2,000 students throughout the state. Vermont Catholic Charities’ four residential care homes are caring for the most at-risk population, and emergency aid is being distributed to families and individuals who are struggling — many due to COVID-19 hardships.

“We had to quickly adjust our 2020 Bishop’s Annual Appeal plans due to the pandemic,” Kane said. “We had hoped to launch our Diocese’s first-ever capital campaign that was focused on helping parishes implement the recent Diocesan Synod goals: expanding evangelization, building vibrant parishes and improving communication. For now, the campaign has been delayed, and we are asking the community to please support their parishes by contributing to their weekly offertory and to prayerfully consider a donation to the Bishop’s Annual Appeal.”

The Vermont Catholic Community Foundation has set up a temporary online giving platform for parishes that do not have one. In addition, a donate-to-parish webpage was created on the Diocese’s website to make it easy for parishioners to find a link to their parish’s online giving portal or to the temporary form created by the foundation: vermontcatholic.org/donatetoparish.

“Even though the churches are closed right now, parishes count on the weekly offertory gifts to maintain their buildings and pay the bills,” Bishop Coyne said. “Similar to parishes, the Bishop’s Appeal helps keep the Diocese operating and supports the Catholic Church in Vermont. I ask for your prayers and your support to sustain us during this difficult time.”

To make a gift to the Bishop’s Annual Appeal please click bishopsappealvt.org.

In a recent message to the Catholic community, Bishop Coyne  offered words of encouragement: “The Church has remained steadfast for centuries. It is the means by which Christ will remain with us ‘always until the end of the age’ (Matthew 28:20). Over the centuries, we have faced invasion, famine and plague. Each time humanity has faced a profound and serious threat, the Church and its people have answered in solidarity with others and with full trust in the Lord. This pandemic will not stop us from proclaiming the Good News, caring for the neediest in our midst and spiritually feeding God’s flock. As in the past, we will persevere in hope. We will get through this together.”

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