Church must address the spiritual needs of the elderly

Church must address the spiritual needs of the elderly

Father Charles Davignon knows something about the spiritual needs of the elderly.

As a pastor, he ministered to parishioners of all ages, and now — a nonagenarian himself — he lives at Michaud Manor in Derby Line where he celebrates Sunday Mass and is available to residents who seek the Sacrament of Reconciliation or simply want to talk.

“Companionship is [the] number one” need older folks have, he said, whether they live at home or in an elder care facility like Michaud Manor, one of four such facilities run by Vermont Catholic Charities Inc.

Whether they need companionship on their spiritual journey or just the companionship of a friend, the Church can and must provide that, Father Davignon emphasized, saying Catholics must not overlook elders and must treat them with warmth and dignity.

Well known for his concern for people in need, Father Davignon stressed the need to treat seniors — and all people — with deep respect for their dignity as human beings. “We must maintain our respect for one another at whatever age or ability,” he said.

And care for the elderly is not only the job of bishops and priests, it must be the concern for all members of the Church. “The Church is the mystical Body of Christ; it’s not just ordained members.”

So what can the Church — the people of God — do to tend to its older members? Pay attention to them, because, as Father Davignon knows, what matters to them is how they are made to feel. Do they feel ignored? Do they feel welcomed? Do they feel abandoned? Do they feel uncomfortable going to Mass because they use a walker? Are there spiritual enrichment programs they can attend with the help of ride?

Connie Daigle, a resident of Michaud Manor who is a parishioner of St. Andre Bessette Parish in Troy, said elders need to feel connected to their church, “not lost in the shuffle.” Prayer groups and Bible studies can be important parts of their life, and if they can’t get there, it’s important for someone in the church to offer a ride to keep them involved.

Parish clergy and parishioners are essential visitors to help elderly members stay connected and have the opportunity for the sacraments and spiritual guidance. Parishes have extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion to bring the Eucharist to those who are hospitalized or homebound; many parishes make books available to help everyone on their spiritual journey. Vermont Catholic Charities’ eldercare homes have priests who celebrate Mass regularly.

“The need is definitely there” to minister to the elderly, Daigle said. “We have a responsibility to respond to them,” Father Davignon added. “Our obligation to ‘honor our mothers and fathers’ does not disappear because they are in a different [life] situation.”

—Originally published in the Fall 2021 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.

2022 Prayer Service for Christian Unity

2022 Prayer Service for Christian Unity


The Vermont Ecumenical Council will sponsor a service commemorating the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity on Sunday Jan. 23, 2022 at 4:00 pm. The service will be online or “hybrid” – more information TBA. We want YOU to participate from what ever corner of VT you are from!  
This year’s theme for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is “We saw the star in the East, and we came to worship Him” – Matthew 2:2. The theme this year was selected and developed by the Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute in consultation with the Middle East Council of Churches, and originated from the churches in Lebanon.  
For over a hundred years the Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute has sponsored the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in the octave between the Feast of the Confession of St. Peter (January 18) and the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul (January 25). Each year Graymoor invites the church in a different part of the world to offer a theme for the celebration, along with Scriptural and liturgical resources that raise up the concerns of Christians in that part of the world in the context of the Gospel’s vision that all followers of Jesus Christ be one.

All Vermont Christian churches, organizations and ministries are invited to participate in the VECNCC’s service on January 23. For more information, please contact The Rev. Dr. Frederick Moser,
Celebrating and Encouraging COVID-19 Vaccination: A Letter from Clergy of the Diocese

Celebrating and Encouraging COVID-19 Vaccination: A Letter from Clergy of the Diocese

We, the deacons, priests and bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont sign this letter and send it out to all our members in attestation and celebration that we are all fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. We  urge you and your loved ones to get vaccinated if you have not already done so. We are particularly proud of the high vaccination rates in Vermont   and especially encouraged by high vaccination rates for our youth.

The coronavirus pandemic has been long, deadly and tiring for all of us. But we will get through this together. By caring for each other, getting vaccinated, continuing to wear masks indoors, maintaining social distance and following the guidance of our public health authorities, we demonstrate the simple Gospel value of loving God by loving our neighbors as ourselves. That means paying special attention to younger children and those with compromised immune systems who are not able to be vaccinated at this point.

We ask your prayers for our ministry together here in our brave little state and assure you of our continued prayers for the health and well-being of all in these unprecedented times. May God bless us all as we seek to serve Vermont in the name of Jesus, our Lord of love.


The Rt. Rev. Dr. Shannon MacVean-Brown, Bishop

The Rev. Jennie M. Anderson

The Rev. Lisette D Baxter

The Rev. Janet Brown

The Rev. Canon Walter Brownridge

The Rev. Thora L. Chadwick

The Rev. Diana Collins

The Rev. Catherine Cooke

The Rev. Canon Lee A. Crawford

The Rev. William A. Davidson

The Rev. Martha Dyner

The Rev. E. Angela Emerson

The Rev. Rachel Field

The Rev. Steven Fuller Sr.

The Rev. Sarah C. Ginolfi

The Rev. L Paul Gratz

The Rev. Kim Hardy

The Rev. Kathy Hartman

The Rev. Canon David G. Hamilton, D.Min.

The Rev. Beth Hilgartner

The Rev. Earl Kooperkamp

The Rev. Bob Lee

The Rev. Dr. Robert K. Leopold

The Rev. Mary D. Lindquist

The Rev. Beth Ann Maier, deacon

The Rev. Margaret Mathauer, deacon

The Rev. Dr. Frederick Moser

The Very Rev. Diane Nancekivell

The Rev. Scott B. Neal

The Rev. Zarina Suárez O’Hagin, deacon

The Rev. Canon Susan Ohlidal

The Rev. Paul V. Olsson

The Rev. Sherry Osborn

The Rev. Lucy Pellegrini

The Rev. John Perry

The Rev. Nicholas Porter

The Rev. Donna Reidt

The Rev. Stephen Reynes, deacon

The Rev. Diane Root

The Rev. Amy Spagna

The Rev. Rob Spainhour

The Rev. Kevin Holland Sparrow

The Rev. Bob Stuhlmann

The Rev. Mary Heller Taggart

The Rev. Carole Wageman

The Rev. Bob Wilson

The Rev. Dr. Oliver Larry Yarbrough

Sing We Now Noel

Sing We Now Noel

Sing We Now Noel — a celebration of Christmas and seasonal music – will be presented at three different locations with Dr. William Tortolano as organist. The 92-year-old Saint Michael’s College Professor Emeritus of Fine Arts and Music continues to avoid retirement.

The acoustic and tonal resources of the different Vermont spaces will bring a wide variety of organ music and vocal soloists. The audience will have an opportunity to sing favorite carols from many countries, including a Native Huron carol. Organ solos are by J.S. Bach, Pachelbel, Brahms, Yon and Rowley.

Different vocal solos, at each church will include O Holy Night, The Schubert Ave Maria; He Shall Feed His Flock from The Messiah; and the Italian carols, Gesù Bambino and Tu Scendi Dalle Stelle. Soloists are Jake Barickman and John Schreindorfer at St. Mary’s Church on Dec. 5 in St. Albans; Jerry Proulx at St. Michael’s College chapel in Colchester on Dec. 12; and Elizabeth Ortiz at Blessed Sacrament Church in Stowe on Dec. 19. All concerts are at 2 p.m.

Tortolano has enjoyed a long career, 61 years of it in Vermont. Recognized as an expert in Gregorian chant, he was honored with the Papal medal, Pro Ecclesia Et Pontifice, by Pope Benedict.

The concerts are free and open to the public. An optional free will offering will be available.

Episcopal Diocesan Convention – Online

Episcopal Diocesan Convention – Online

In light of the continuing rise in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in Vermont, the diocesan convention events originally slated to take place on Saturday, November 6 at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul will now take place online.

  • The business portion of diocesan convention will be held as planned, online via Zoom on Thursday, November 4 beginning at 6 p.m.
  • The bishop’s address, worship, and other programming will take place online via Zoom and YouTube Saturday, November 6. Watch future issues of the Mountain for more information about the agenda, starting time, and how to join.

If you are a delegate and unable to attend convention, it is your responsibility to notify the diocesan office of the change.

Register Online

Online registration is now open. The deadline for registration is Friday, October 15.

If you are a delegate and unable to attend convention, it is your responsibility to notify the diocesan office of the change.


Learn more about diocesan convention.

At this critical moment in history, be brave, little state

At this critical moment in history, be brave, little state

Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale:  At this critical moment in history, be brave, little state.

By Commentary – VT D.I.G.G.E.R. Sep 2 2021

This commentary is by state Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale, D-Chittenden.

In early August, I married the love of my life on the shores of Lake Champlain in a beautiful celebration that spanned our Hindu, Jewish, Congregationalist and French Canadian upbringings.

My husband Jacob’s father was a prominent Republican dairy farmer in Charlotte and his mother grew up speaking French in the Northeast Kingdom. My Indian immigrant father and Jewish American mother ran an Irish pub in Los Angeles.

It was surreal and special to see our families and chosen community bridge political, cultural, and social divides for the one thing that makes us the most brave — love.

This gathering was made all the more meaningful because it revealed the best of Vermont’s and our nation’s values against the backdrop of great discord and division. According to the U.S. Census, only 10 percent of marriages in the country are multiracial, and recent reporting in The Atlantic highlights that nearly half of Americans would be upset if their children married someone of a different political party. This figure is up from just 5 percent in 1960, and reveals a growing cultural divide that goes beyond policy disagreements.

I wish that we were somehow the exception in Vermont, and that hate did not grow in our rocky soil. But the rise of groups like “Vermonters for Vermont” and efforts to narrow the diversity and honesty of our educational curriculum is revealing a nativism and xenophobia that we must acknowledge and uproot.

If our state is going to grow socially and demographically, we need to develop, attract and retain a diversity of talent and perspectives in the state. That means widening the circle of Vermonters who share our core values, rather than closing ourselves off to others’ lived experiences and new ideas.

The “us versus them” narrative is being driven into the heart of our education system under the guise of attacking critical race theory, a field of legal study that seeks to identify and address the root causes of racial bias in the application of the law. A statewide tour is attracting small but passionate crowds who are instead celebrating white pride and making false and painful statements about our nation’s history, such as saying to applause: “Colored people stayed in the South because they weren’t that bad treated.”

Most disappointing of all, a new colleague of mine in the Senate, Russ Ingalls of Essex/Orleans, is making chilling McCarthy Era-esque statements about our educators, saying he would be “publicizing the names of teachers whose politics can be discerned from what they say in the classroom.” Recently, that threat was deployed against a teacher in Irasburg who offered students the opportunity to share their gender pronouns if that made them more comfortable in the classroom.

Attempts at the erasure of our history and silencing of our educators will only hurt our communities and our ability to address the issues we face today. This is not what we stand for. The lessons that our children are taught in our schools will impact the decisions they make in the future.

It is our job as a state to arm them with the ability to seek truth, compassion, and honest introspection not just for careers, but for a lifetime of deep relationships and true happiness in a multicultural democracy. While we cannot undo the wrongs of history, we can learn from them and commit ourselves to a different, more equitable, and more welcoming path forward.

We are already the whitest state in the country, and these sentiments may be coming from a fractional minority of residents, but they have an outsized impact on the public perception of Vermont and the time spent dispelling falsehoods rather than helping our students through a pandemic. Giving the best education to our young people means making them open, empathetic and honest as they strive to be ready for citizenship, college and the changing realities of our nation.

Underneath all of it, these political forces are trying to divide us because it allows them to take over school boards and governance systems, and then take away the freedom and resources owed to our teachers to provide an honest, world-class education for our students. Fomented anger and division, if unchecked, will ultimately lead to lower school budgets, fewer curricular offerings, and students who feel more isolated for holding marginalized identities.

When Jacob and I looked each other in the eyes and said, “I do,” it was made all the richer by knowing and embracing each other’s differences, and having our beloved Vermont community embrace our love. In our histories, we had victims and perpetrators of injustice, ancestors who may have frowned upon our union, and strongly held beliefs that could tear us apart unless we examined them and recommitted to our common values. We hope we are fortunate enough to raise children here who can celebrate all of the pieces of who they are as Vermonters.

Choosing to hold all of these truths and still love each other is the bravest act of all. So I ask of you, be vocal about your support for our educators, center love and courage in your conversations, and do not be a bystander in a moment of false division. At this critical moment in history, I ask that we be brave, little state.

Parliament of the World’s Religions

Parliament of the World’s Religions

What: The 2021 Parliament of the World’s Religions
When: October 16 – 18, 2021
Where: Virtually Around the World
How: Register Today

The 2021 Parliament of the World’s Religions will be the eighth convening and the first time that it will be hosted virtually.  Recognized as the birthplace of the modern interfaith movement, the 1893 Parliament made history with its groundbreaking interreligious dialogues among leaders of Eastern and Western religious traditions, fostering understanding, cooperation and social harmony. Since 1893, six more Parliaments have been hosted in the United States, South Africa, Spain, Canada and Australia; attended by tens of thousands of people from around the world.

The​ ​Parliament​ ​of​ ​the​ ​World’s​ ​Religions​ will feature​ ​programs​, presentations​ , and religious observances at​ ​the​ ​2021​ ​Parliament​ ​of​ ​the​ ​World’s​ ​Religions​, to be held virtually,​ October 16-18.

The program will be hosted in Central US time, coinciding with the location of the Parliament headquarters in Chicago, but provide offerings for time zones around the world, on the theme Opening our Hearts to the World: Compassion in Action

COVID-19 Memorial Service

COVID-19 Memorial Service

Dear Pastors and Admin folks,
Please help VIA by running the blurb below to promote a COVID memorial service we have planned for Sun, Sept. 19th at 3 pm on the Statehouse Lawn in Montpelier. (The time is an hour earlier than we stated in previous communications.)
Below is a short blurb, as well as a graphic with the information. Feel free to use either or both as needed.
Thank you so much for your help!
Debbie Ingram and the VIA Clergy Caucus
COVID-19 Memorial
To honor Vermonters lost to COVID-19 and to process our grief, Vermont Interfaith Action is hosting a memorial service on the Vermont Statehouse Lawn in Montpelier at 3 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 19. The heart of the event will be a ceremonial reading of the names so that each individual who has died of COVID-19 is recognized. In addition, various clergy will offer brief interfaith prayers and readings. Governor Phil Scott has been invited to participate. For more information, contact Debbie at or 802-651-8889.