The following stories provide a glimpse of the impact of your gift to the Bishop’s Annual Appeal. Any gift, no matter the size, makes a difference.

Vermont Catholic Charities

Vermont Catholic Charities is continuing to serve persons and families in need even during the Covid-19 pandemic. This past year, 972 adults and 477 children benefited from emergency aid — many impacted by Covid.

People like John and Maggie who have five children under the age of 16. They both worked, but Maggie had to give up her job to stay home with the children during Covid-19. John’s hours were cut during this time. They were behind on rent and worried about continuing to fall behind. They received assistance with back rent, help navigating the Covid-related benefits and a voucher for winter clothes and boots for the children. Both John and Maggie are back to work, and they are hopeful that they can stay ahead of their bills.

In addition to emergency assistance, Vermont Catholic Charities continues to provide counseling services. “Our counselors are continuing to meet with clients remotely via phone or videoconference call,” said Mary Beth Pinard, executive director of Vermont Catholic Charities Inc.

Vermont Catholic Charities’ eldercare homes in Burlington, Rutland and Derby Line remained in full operation.

New Diocesan Formation Programs

Four formation programs — including two that are new offerings — are set to begin in the late summer to ensure the spiritual and pastoral needs of Catholics throughout the Diocese of Burlington are being addressed: new classes for the Diocesan Lay Formation and Deacon Formation programs and new offerings of a Diocesan Leader of Prayer and a Pastoral Associate for Parish Life Training Program.

Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne “wants to ensure the spiritual and pastoral needs of Catholics throughout the Diocese are being attended too, which is what these programs are designed to inspire and equip men and women to do,” explained Deacon Phil Lawson, executive director of pastoral ministries for the Diocese of Burlington. Each of the programs is set to begin in August/September.

The programs are part of a larger vision to inspire and equip men and women for greater service in the Church, under the umbrella of the Diocesan Institute for Missionary Discipleship. “Having already seen the faith, growth, joy and zeal manifested in the current students; I am eager to see this grow,” Deacon Lawson said. “Ultimately, we will have more and more men and women, filled with the joy of the Gospel and eager to share that passion and their gifts with their parishes as we seek to build vibrant Catholic communities.”

St. Joseph the Provider Feed the Hungry Initiative

In this Year of St. Joseph, Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne has announced a new coordinated effort to increase the Catholic Church’s capacity to feed the hungry in Vermont in response to increasing need.

In the Diocese of Burlington, there are 68 parishes, most of which have formed a partnership with their local food shelf or operate their own pantry. “From operating their own food shelf, to partnering with local food shelves to hosting regular food drives, our Catholic community is already actively engaged in feeding the hungry,” he said. “I began this initiative to increase our efforts across our Diocese to meet the growing need for food in the community.”

The St. Joseph the Provider Feed the Hungry Initiative is largely a communication effort to connect the Catholic community with organizations that feed the hungry and increase capacity. “All our parishes are involved in multiple social ministries to help the most vulnerable among us. This initiative will harness the goodwill of the Catholic community to increase our capacity to ensure no one goes hungry by partnering with existing organizations and meeting the need,” Bishop Coyne said.

— Originally published in the June 12-18, 2021, edition of The Inland See.

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