April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a time to increase awareness about the causes and risk factors for sexual assault and empower individuals to take steps to prevent it in their communities.
“Sexual violence is a sexual act committed against someone without that person’s freely given consent,” said Sharon Trani, a nurse practitioner and a marriage and family therapist with Vermont Catholic Charities Inc., adding that consent cannot be granted under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
There are many types of sexual violence including rape, incest, childhood sexual abuse, date/acquaintance rape, intimate partner violence, sexual harassment and sex trafficking.
According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Sexual violence is common. More than one in four women and one in five men have experienced sexual violence involving physical contact during their lifetimes. One in three female rape victims experienced it for the first time between 11 and 17 years old and one in eight reported that it occurred before age 10. Nearly one in four male rape victims experienced it for the first time between 11 and 17 years old and about one in four reported that it occurred before age 10. Nine percent of high school girls said they experienced sexual assault before graduation.
Catherine Ducasse was 19 when she was raped. “Through spiritual direction, prayers, adoration, retreats and the sacraments I have been able to persevere on my path of healing and wholeness,” said the parishioner of Christ the King-St. Anthony Parish in Burlington. “Every time I receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, I remind myself that I am strengthened through Jesus Christ, that He is my strength, my courage, my light and my hope, that He and I are united in suffering, and through Him I will find inner peace and freedom from that horrific event.”
She is a victim advocate and associate director for H.O.P.E WORKS (Healing, Outreach, Prevention, Empowerment) serving Chittenden County.
“Advocacy entails listening, supporting, showing empathy, educating and empowering survivors of sexual violence and their loved ones,” she said. “It is to be present to survivors and their stories and to remind her/him that ‘I believe you,’ ‘It’s not your fault,’ ‘I’m sorry this happened to you” and “You are not alone.’”
Her faith strengthens her advocacy work in various ways. Before she returns a crisis phone call, she prays that the Holy Spirit guide her. She reminds herself that she is sharing God’s love in a dark moment of a person’s life and that she can be a vessel for His hope and light. “I have often asked the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe in dire situations, and I surrender the survivors to be wrapped in Mary’s mantle and be in Her comfort and care,” she said. “I believe Our Lady of Guadalupe is an advocate for victims of sexual violence and praying to her and our Lord Jesus definitely strengthens me to be the person I need to be.”
She also asks for the intercession of other saints like St. Maria Gortetti, St. Joan of Arc, St. John Paul II and St. Padre Pio. “Spiritual direction, prayer, retreats and daily Masses are all part of my self-care routine to help me face the vicarious trauma I encounter in my daily advocacy work,” Ducasse said.
According to Tran, everyone plays a role in preventing sexual violence and establishing norms of respect, safety, equality and helping others. “Empowering women to resist violence and protect themselves … is a positive and sensible part of sexual violence prevention, and there is a long history behind these kinds of approaches,” she said. “However, women-focused approaches used in isolation for prevention not only deflect responsibility from potential perpetrators but also represent only a partial solution. We can have a greater effect through combined efforts that also focus on potential perpetrators, bystanders and broader community-level influences.”
For more information, contact Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence at rainn.org/about-national-sexual-assault-telephone-hotline or call the Office on Women’s Health Helpline at 1-800-994-9662.
“If you or a loved one needs help after sexual violence or are in an abusive relationship know that you are not alone,” Ducasse said. “You can reach out to speak to an advocate and they can assist you in making a safety and a healing plan.”
Reach H.O.P.E WORKS at 802-863-1236 for victims of sexual violence or Steps to End Domestic Violence at 802-658-1996 for domestic violence. “You can reach out to a trusted family member, friend, counselor or speak to clergy,” she added.
There are also options for safety and accountability such as filling for protective orders, reporting to police and going to the hospital. “It is important that survivors feel empowered to make their own decision after a traumatic event or if they are in an abusive relationship,” she said. “Advocates can educate and provide information on different options, but it’s ultimately the person’s decision on how and when they are going to proceed.”
To reach out to Ducasse directly, email email@example.com.
Not all artists’ work transcends sound to emotion but for artist/songwriter Lydia Laird, she doesn’t make music any other way. Her self-titled debut EP, releasing August 2020, will not only introduce listeners to Laird’s powerful vocals but also to her willingness to be in the dark places and find hope there with anthems that honestly address the pain in life along with the power of the Gospel.
Laird, who is number seven in a family of ten children, grew up in a Christian home in East Texas while also living in Romania as missionaries when she was young. She remembers becoming a Christian when she was just four years old and wrote her first song at nine as music became an outlet for her.
LYDIA LAIRD – https://www.lydialaird.com/
Food insecurity in Vermont has reached record levels during the Covid-19 pandemic with nearly 30 percent of Vermonters experiencing food insecurity since March, new University of Vermont research has found.
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 the 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.”
Eileen O’Rourke, former executive director of human resources for the Diocese, volunteered to help launch this effort in collaboration with diocesan staff and the Vermont Foodbank to increase the Church’s capacity to feed the hungry by increasing volunteerism and food donations through local parish partnerships and foodbank initiatives throughout the state.
“The Vermont Foodbank is experiencing an unprecedented demand for food due to the pandemic,” she said. “They expressed a dire need for volunteers for several food distribution events that they host monthly and seasonally as well as in the local food shelves.”
The Vermont Foodbank is the state’s largest hunger-relief organization, providing nutritious food through a network of more than 300 community partners – food shelves, meal sites, senior centers, after-school programs, schools and hospitals. The Vermont Foodbank, a member of Feeding America, provides about 12 million pounds of food annually to people throughout Vermont.
“Throughout the year, the Foodbank hosts VeggieVanGo, gleaning and other food distribution events that are supported by our amazing network of volunteers,” said Kate Steward, volunteer manager for the Vermont Foodbank. “The Covid-19 pandemic has made it harder for many of our community members to access the food they need to thrive. In fact, Foodbank volunteers helped to distribute over 19 million pounds of food last year to Vermonters facing hunger — a dramatic rise from 2019. We’re grateful that members of the Diocese are willing to step forward and fight hunger by volunteering with the foodbank; it truly makes a difference in the lives of our neighbors.”
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.
Parishes with Pantries
St. Charles, Bellows Falls
Sacred Heart-St. Francis de Sales, Bennington
St. Monica, Barre
St. Peter, Vergennes/St. Ambrose, Bristol
Nativity of Blessed Virgin Mary-St. Louis, Swanton/Highgate
St. John the Baptist, North Bennington
St. Ann, Milton
Our Lady of the Lake, Grand Isle/Alburgh/South Hero/Isle la Motte
St. Michael, Brattleboro
Most Holy Trinity, Barton
MONTHLY ONLINE CONCERT SERIES
2nd Wednesday Night of the Month – 7pm via Zoom — LIMITED SEATING AVAILABLE
ZOOM link will be sent out via email a few days before the show.
Tickets will be on sale through 6pm March 10, 2021 or until we run out of Zoom seats.
March 10, 2021 @ 7PM ET – featuring
Jen Aldana is a Boston based singer-songwriter and worship leader. She is most known for winning Season 5 of “The Voice on Snapchat” on Team Adam and working with Noah Cyrus.
Jen started writing and playing music at the age of 7. Through years of performing, touring, and singing at special events and concerts (such as at The Apollo Theater), she quickly realized she was meant to be an artist. By college, she received a full-tuition scholarship to Berklee College of Music and eventually graduated with a degree in Songwriting.
Did you know that the Vermont Bible Society, a fully funded ministry within the VECNCC, helps Vermonters and Vermont-based ministries get FREE bibles to distribute throughout Vermont and the World?
The Vermont Bible Society’s funding comes from the Greenleaf Fund, established by Colonel Charles Greenleaf. The Bible Society does not keep a supply of Bibles on hand. The ministry or person making the request provides information to the Vermont Bible Society about which Bibles it wants, and the VBS places the order with a particular publisher or bookstore, depending on which Bibles are needed. The Bibles are usually shipped directly to the requester.
Guidelines for the use of the Greenleaf Fund
The Greenleaf Fund shall be used to distribute Bibles without charge to ministries and individuals in Vermont. It may also be used to provide a Bible of choice to each newly-ordained clergy person who resides in Vermont, and to pastors being installed in their first Vermont church. The Fund will provide Bibles to any church destroyed in a catastrophe in Vermont. Any other use of the fund not consistent with this policy must be at the discretion of VEC leadership.
Colonel Charles Henry Greenleaf was born on July 23, 1841 in Danville, Vermont. He moved with his parents to New Hampshire while still an infant and spent most of his life in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Throughout his life, he carried a copy of the New Testament in his pocket and read it daily. Upon his death, he left a generous gift to both the Vermont and New Hampshire Bible Societies for the purchase and free distribution of the Holy Bible.
The Vermont Bible Society has distributed Bibles throughout the State of Vermont to: prisons, hospitals, street ministries, churches, soldiers, and more.
If you have a ministry in need of bibles, please use our online form found at – https://vecncc.org/request-bible/
For the vocations director for the Diocese of Burlington, Father James Dodson, “it is a joy to welcome” three seminarians for the Diocese of Burlington from Vietnam. “It is always a great blessing when young men hear and respond to God’s call for their lives with faith, hope, love and a lot of prayerful excitement,” he said.
The new seminarians are Khoa Nguyen, An Dinh and Loc Vo.
They currently are living at St. John Seminary in Brighton, Massachusetts, and studying English at Boston University.
The Diocese covers the cost of tuition, room and board and other miscellaneous expenses during their time of formation.
“God-willing, and upon successful completion of their formation, they will be ordained priests of the Diocese of Burlington and serve in Vermont for the rest of their lives,” Father Dodson said.
An was born in 1995 and has one younger sister. He graduated from Lac Hong University with a bachelor’s degree in software engineering in 2018. While in Vietnam, he served in parishes as a catechist, altar server, cantor and volunteer in hospitals and shelters for the less fortunate.
Loc was born in 1994. He is the youngest in his family, which includes four older brothers and three older sisters. He graduated from Hue University in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in literature. While in Vietnam, he was a vocational team leader of a group of Catholic students studying in Hue while serving Mass and teaching catechism.
An and Loc both arrived in the United States on Dec. 29, 2020.
Khoa was born in 1994 and has two younger sisters. He graduated from Medicine and Pharmacy University in Saigon with a bachelor’s degree in medicine in 2017. He worked in a children’s hospital in Vietnam for one year before coming to the United States in 2018 to study English at Holy Apostles Seminary in Cromwell, Connecticut.
“There is an abundance of seminarians in Vietnam and a need for more seminarians and priests in the United States,” Father Dodson said. “It is in light of this reality that An, Loc and Khoa discerned God’s call and have come to Vermont as the first step in answering His call.”
The commitment to faith and family in Vietnam is strong, he noted: “The Vietnamese seminarians bring with them this lived experience, which can help to inspire, reignite and recapture a fervor for the faith in our families throughout the Diocese.”
The Diocese already had two seminarians from Vietnam, Luan Tran and Giang Vu; both are in their second year of pre-theology studying at St. Meinrad Seminary in Meinrad, Indiana.
“Please keep An, Loc and Khoa and all our diocesan seminarians in your daily prayers as together we pray for an increase in vocations throughout the Diocese of Burlington,” Father Dodson said.
I write to you today with the heavy heart that we all must have after yesterday’s riot at the U.S. Capitol. As Wednesday’s events unfolded, I found myself moving from incredulity to astonishment to fear for people’s lives to anger and disgust and finally relief — relief because it could have been a lot worse. As the evening moved into early morning, Congress moved back into session, our democratic process worked, and the election of former vice president, Joseph Biden, to become our next president was affirmed.
Today we stand amid the detritus of the “morning after,” not so much asking, “Did this really happen?” but rather “How did this happen?” Lots of commentators are offering opinions about what happened. One phrase I hear repeatedly is “We are better than this.” These words propose that this is not who we are as a country. Sadly, though, we are not “better than this.” To quote one football coach, “You are what you are.” When your record is 4-11, you can’t say, “We are better than this.” You are a 4-11 football team. Right now, we, as a country, are not “better than this.” We are what we are – divided, angry, sick – both figuratively and bodily, fear-filled and lost. We may become “better than this” and I know we can be “better than this,” but right now, we are not “better than this.” We are what we are.
This is where you and I, my brothers and sisters in Christ, can rise up to be beacons of hope, encouragement and healing. A bishop sometimes serves as a type of spiritual doctor. I have obviously made a diagnosis of what is unhealthy and destructive in our culture. Now, as a good physician will, I offer one part of a prescriptive course back to wholeness and health. It is the way of Christ in the Catholic faith. You and I as Catholic disciples are not separate from our culture and our country. We are part of it just like everyone else. If our country is broken and in need of healing, we must ask ourselves, “What part am I playing in all of this?” Am I living as a citizen of this country first and foremost as a disciple who is striving to love God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit and my neighbor as myself? In other words, am I living and encouraging others to become “better than this” or am I part of the problem that has brought us to where we are now? My prescription then for myself and for all of us is to do some serious soul-searching, to excise what is not of God, what is not of the good, and to become the healing cells for the body politic of our country.
We do not do this alone nor do we do it without help. We do so in communion with the Church and with one another. We have the gift of the Holy Spirit which we received when we were first baptized, we have the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the forgiveness of sins, and we have the incredible gift of the Eucharist, the Sacrament of the Cross and the food for the journey. Finally, in our daily prayer as well, let us offer prayers for our country, that we may live as brothers and sisters, not in silos of resentment and anger, but as “one nation, under God … with liberty and justice for all.”
May God bless America.
Bishop Christopher Coyne,
Diocese of Burlington VT
January 7, 2021
Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs
January 6, 2021
On this day of the Feast of the Epiphany, Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry invites Episcopalians and people of faith to turn and pray on behalf of our nation.
Watch the video of the Presiding Bishop’s statement here.
A transcript of the statement follows:
Today is January the 6th, 2021. It is the Feast of the Epiphany. And on this particular day at this particular moment, even as our nation’s capital is being endangered and assaulted, we pray that the Lord Jesus Christ, we pray that God, in his Way of Love, might prevail in all of our hearts.
The events at our Capitol today are deeply disturbing. We believe the actions of armed protesters represent a coup attempt. We are a democracy, with long-standing institutional norms that must be honored, foremost among them, following the processes laid out in the Constitution and Federal statute to facilitate the peaceful and orderly transition of power.
Today’s protesters pushed through police barricades and forced their way into Congressional chambers, and the Capitol building are now threatened, and threatening the safety of lawmakers, their staff, and others who work in the Capitol complex. This threatens the integrity of our democracy. The national security of our nation, the continuity of government, and the lives and safety of our legislators, their staffs, law enforcement, and all who work in the Capitol.
I, therefore, ask you now to join me in prayer for our nation, praying first from the prayers that accompany Morning Prayer:
Save your people, Lord, and bless your inheritance;
Govern and uphold us now and always.
Day by day we bless you;
We praise your name forever.
Lord, keep us from sin today;
Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy.
Lord, show us your love and mercy;
For we put our trust in you.
In you, Lord, is our hope;
And we shall never hope in vain.
-Morning Prayer II, Book of Common Prayer, p. 98
Let us pray:
Eternal God, in whose perfect kingdom no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, no strength known but the strength of love: So mightily spread abroad your Spirit, that all peoples may be gathered together under the banner of the Prince of Peace, as children of one God and Creator of us all; to whom be dominion and glory, now and forever.
- For Peace, Book of Common Prayer, p. 815
Oh God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your son. Look now with compassion on the entire human family; and particularly this part of the family, in the United States, and those in our nation’s capital; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
- For the Human Family, Book of Common Prayer, p. 815
On this day and at this moment, we pray for our nation. We ask God to heal us, to show us the way to healing, to show us the way to be one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Now, as our Savior Christ has taught us, we are bold to say,
Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy Name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power and the glory,
forever and ever.
And now, may the peace of God which passeth all understanding keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God and of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
The blessing of God Almighty the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit be on you and on this nation and on the entire human family and all of creation this moment and forevermore.