Parishioners of Corpus Christi Parish in St. Johnsbury, Lyndonville and Danville are hoping to evangelize, make their churches more alive and ensure people have a personal encounter with Jesus.

Those were the thoughts of some of the Parish Revitalization Team members during an April 26-29 Light of the World Parish Retreat at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church in Danville.

Representatives of Light of the World Evangelization Ministries brought a plan for

evangelization and renewal to the parish, one of several to host the program in the Diocese of Burlington as part of a response to the recent Diocesan Synod’s call for a focus on evangelization and vibrant parishes.

“We want to be a parish where you feel the joy of Jesus and the joy in the community,” said Parish Revitalization Team member Mary Anne Gummere of St. John the Evangelist Church in St. Johnsbury.

She sees a vibrant parish as one that offers liturgies where people experience the presence of Jesus through the people, the music and the homilies and where members evangelize and reach out to others in service and affirm priests in their vocation.

Echoing the words of Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne and author Father James Mallon, Diane Bailey, a team member from St. Elizabeth Church in Lyndonville, said the team wants to “move from maintenance to mission.”

Ann Lovett of St. John the Evangelist Church, another team member, hopes efforts will encourage people to use their gifts in service of the parish.

Father Curtis Miller, Corpus Christi Parish parochial vicar, said there is a hunger to grow in a personal relationship with Jesus and to share that in the community. So he hopes the groups of 6-12 people that form after the retreat to have community meetings will “be that leaven” in the parish.

About 40 people participated in the retreat; team members hope such a retreat will take place twice a year “until the whole parish is using their gifts to build the Church and to bring people back,” Baily said, to a place where they truly encounter Jesus, feel spiritually nourished, are able to share their gifts and can serve others and perform works of mercy.

“This has been a really good start to the revitalization,” Gummere said.

—Originally published in the Summer 2019 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.