Bishop Coyne re-establishes Sunday obligation

Bishop Coyne re-establishes Sunday obligation

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

Next weekend, you and I will celebrate the 4th of July and offer praise and thanksgiving to God for the blessings of freedom that we have as citizens of this great nation: freedom of speech, press, assembly, and petition among many, but most especially for us Catholics, the freedom of religion which guarantees our right to proclaim and practice our faith in our families and communities.

Celebrating this particular national freedom, as well as the personal freedom of belief given to each human being by God, I announce the return of the “Sunday obligation” beginning next week, namely that each Catholic who has reached the age of reason is once again obligated to attend Sunday Mass.  It may seem rather odd for me to talk about “freedom” while re-establishing an obligation.  That is certainly true if you and I see the obligation as something that is imposed on us rather than as something we take on.  As Catholics, you and I are followers of Christ who are bearers of the greatmandatum or “commandment” which he gave his disciples at the Last Supper “to do this in memory of me.” From the very beginning, the early Church would gather on the first day of the week to carry out that mandatum to celebrate the Eucharist.  This was not something a Christian could choose to not do.  It was the very heart of who they were and who we are. It was an obligation they took on out of love for Christ and His Church.  It was something they desired and wanted, not something onerous and burdensome.

My hope is that all of us who are Catholics see participation in the Sunday Mass as something we want to do, not something we have to do. It is a sacred obligation we choose in freedom. We should make every effort to attend Sunday Mass.  However, as has been the case from the very beginning of the Church as well, there are times and circumstances when one cannot be present for Sunday Mass: injury, ill-health, mobility issues, age, and now personal safety issues that are still present due to Covid 19.  Children who have not been vaccinated, people whose health is compromised so that they have to avoid any risk of contagion as well as their caregivers, may in freedom choose not to attend Sunday Mass.  Most parishes which are doing so now will still live-stream Sunday Mass for those who cannot attend. I also urge them to ask for Holy Communion to be brought to them outside of Mass.  Simply call your local parish and ask.

Please share this information with your family and friends who may not have received the message. Let us rejoice that together we can safely celebrate the Sunday Eucharist, the Sacrament of the sacrifice and the Holy Communion of Christ.  May God bless you and your families as you spread the Good News wherever you go that Jesus Christ is Lord!

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Rev. Christopher J. Coyne

Bishop of Burlington

Catholic Ordinations 2021

Catholic Ordinations 2021

Two men are scheduled to be ordained this year — one to the priesthood and one to the transitional diaconate.

Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne will ordain Deacon Robert Murphy a priest and seminarian Gregory Caldwell a deacon preparing for priesthood at a special Mass on Saturday, June 19, at 10 a.m. at St. Joseph Cathedral in Burlington.

The bishop will place his hands on the head of the candidate for priestly ordination, and through this Laying of Hands and the Prayer of Ordination, the Gift of the Holy Spirit for the priestly office will be conferred on the candidate for priesthood who will receive the stole and chasuble, signs of the office of the ministerial priesthood

Deacon Murphy graduated from Mount Anthony Union High School Bennington in 2013 then attended Providence College where he earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy in 2017. He first felt the calling to the priesthood in elementary school.

“I was open to the call and desired to do God’s will for my life,” he said. He chose to study for the Diocese of Burlington because it is his home Diocese, and he felt called to serve the people of Vermont. “There have been many great priests in Vermont who have inspired me in my discernment of the priesthood,” he said.

Caldwell, who graduated from Essex High School in 2008, earned a Master of Arts in Catholic philosophical studies from St. Meinrad Seminary in St. Meinrad, Indiana. He was received into full communion with the Church in 2013.

He has said he hopes to bring to the priesthood an ability to “teach in a way that can reach people,” an ability to show people how to live their faith and the willingness to bring the sacraments to the people of the Diocese of Burlington.

Deacon Murphy advises men who are contemplating priesthood to focus on growing in holiness — especially through daily prayer — and striving to grow in virtue. “I believe that if they are open and seeking to do God’s will, God will lead them to their vocation and give them what they need to live it well,” he said. The ordination will be a special time for clergy to meet in a spirit of fraternity and camaraderie.

Due to the seating capacity restrictions, attendance at the Mass will be by invitation only to allow for the priests of the diocese, Robert and Greg’s family and friends, and members of their home parishes to attend. The Mass will be live-streamed at

“The Bishop’s Annual Appeal supports the vocations office. Please consider giving a gift during In-Pew Weekend on June 12-13. To make a gift online or to learn more please visit:”

Aspire Together – Mobile Clinic Fundraiser

Aspire Together – Mobile Clinic Fundraiser

We are preparing the first Pregnancy Medical Mobile Clinic in Vermont.
With the help of the Knights of Columbus and R.R. Charlebois we are halfway to our total financial need of $202,000 to outfit our ultrasound medical mobile clinic.

Would you help us reach our goal?
It will take approximately 6-12 months and an additional $74,000 to outfit the van to make it into a medical Mobile Clinic. Additionally, the proposed annual operating costs are budgeted at $65,000. Aspire Together invites you to be part of the team that is bringing this medical mobile clinic to completion.

Text-to-give (802) 277-7027
or donate online at

or checks can be mailed to:
Aspire Together
56 Colchester Ave.
Burlington, VT 05401

As a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization all of our services are free of charge and donations are tax deductible.


Greek Orthodox Launches “How-to” Green video series

Greek Orthodox Launches “How-to” Green video series

To observe the global celebration of Earth Day, which was first held in 1970, the Department of Inter-Orthodox, Ecumenical, and Interfaith Relations welcomes its newest addition to the Greening the Parish initiative: The How-to Video Series. Beginning on Earth Day, the Department will be releasing weekly new videos featuring ideas and ways to introduce creation care and sustainability in your parish and home. Ranging from practical to theological, each three-minute video offers a unique perspective on environmental stewardship through the knowledge and expertise of Orthodox Christians across the United States. 

Have you ever wondered how to start a garden at your parish? Or would you like to learn about 5 simple ways to green your parish? These videos will offer tangible actions you can adopt today, along with introductions to environmentalism, creation care, the theology of creation and the responsibility of Orthodox Christians. 

This first episode features Archdeacon John Chryssavgis on “The Green Patriarch.”

Episode 2 features Dr. George Nassos with “Practical Tips.”

Check the Orthodox Observer every Thursday afternoon for a new episode.

Visit the Resource Page
Joint Urban Ministry Project “Responding to Hope and Need” – Spring 2021 Update

Joint Urban Ministry Project “Responding to Hope and Need” – Spring 2021 Update

2020 was a year like no other at the Joint Urban Ministry Project (JUMP).  Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, JUMP operated a Drop-In Center in Burlington providing vouchers for basic needs ranging from groceries, utility assistance, transportation gas support, identification, laundry, prescription co-pay, household goods, personal care items and cleaning supplies serving Chittenden County and beyond.

In March 2020, when the pandemic prevented in-person visits, JUMP quickly changed direction by providing online services and mailed vouchers through the new FLEX Assistance Program. These vouchers assist in not only meeting basic needs, but New families in need have been identified.

The online FLEX assistance support has improved program efficiency as JUMP adapted and created four different lanes for clients to access services: FLEX Online application, FLEX Mail In application, Call JUMP– for FLEX application by mail, and Quarterly Care Call (QCC) where staff and volunteers call QCC registered clients who lack computer skills, elderly, homebound serving as a caring point of contact to also proactively identify where food or other needs may exist.

Despite the impact, JUMP remained a dependable reliable resource providing voucher assistance to families and individuals representing (32) towns. Clients requested 2865 vouchers valued at $78,358Top requested vouchers included food security relief 57% valued at $44,458 and Utility Assistance 14% valued $12,192.

Still, the Utility assistance voucher requires an additional $15 to subsidize which helps JUMP sustain a workable 2021 budget. Helping to subsidize Utility assistance will help keep families in their home and maintain good credit by not having utilities disconnected. Plus, based on the potentially long-range economic effects of the pandemic there is no end in sight to the vulnerable population who will be “living on the edge”.

The Covid-19 Impact – Like many non-profits, the current crisis has forced JUMP to re-imagine how we operate, how we administer service, how we interact. We believe, what has manifest is an opportunity to reconfirm JUMP’s purpose as we effectively “Respond to the need that is out there” and work to ensure the well-being and dignity of our most vulnerable neighbors.

With much appreciation, thank you supporting 28 are area faith communities, local agencies, businesses, individual donors, foundations, and First Congregational Church UCC of Burlington for donated space as well as Board of Directors, Committee members, Volunteers and Staff for your unwavering commitment and dedication to JUMP’s mission.

To learn more about JUMP’s important work please visit our website:  and JUMP Client video courtesy of Charlotte Congregational Church:

Help respond to the need and hope that is out there. Donate online TODAY: or by mail: JUMP, PO Box 1657, Burlington, VT 05402

Focus on Food

Focus on Food

Saturdays: 9-11am,
Sundays: 9-11am (bakery/produce items only)
Oddfellows and Rebekahs Lodge of Burlington
1416 North Ave (entrance is in the rear of the building)

Stop in if you need extra food support for yourself or your family.  we have canned food, bakery items, milk, produce, and health-related items on Saturdays.  On Sundays, we offer a “second helping” of bakery items and produce.

Donations may be dropped off at the pantry on Saturdays or Sundays between 8-11am.  If you prefer to have a donation picked up from you, please contact us to arrange this.  You may email us at or call us at 802.862.7300.  Please note that the telephone is answered only on Saturdays and Sundays between 8-11am.  In the case of a food emergency, please also contact us at that email address and/or telephone number.

*** The North End Food Pantry provides food for those who need it on an emergency basis.  The expectation is that visitors will take what they need while being mindful that our supply of food is low and the need for it among all our visitors is high.  To make sure there is enough food or everyone, we ask each visitor to take no more than two plastic grocery bags of food and to be careful not to take too many of the same item.  This two-bag limit does not include perishable food, and we can provide visitors with additional bags for these items.  Visitors to the pantry on a Saturday may return for a “second helping” of food the following day but please remember that only bakery and produce items are available on Sundays.

Faith Climate Action Week

Faith Climate Action Week

Vermont Interfaith Power & Light invites your congregation to participate in its upcoming Faith Climate Action Week!
During April, known as Earth Month, Vermont Interfaith Power & Light (VTIPL) hopes you will get involved in Faith Climate Action Week, an annual commemoration held April 16–25.  This year’s theme is, Sacred Ground: Cultivating Connections Between our Faith, our Food, and the Climate.
If your congregation plans to hold any special activity or event, including virtual viewings of the free Faith Climate Action Week feature film, Kiss the Ground, please let VTIPL know by Friday, April 9, and we will feature your activity in a list of FCAW events in Vermont.
Kiss the Ground is available for free online screening April 10 – 26 or you can order a DVD of the film and discussion guide. Register to view the film and watch the trailer.
Kiss the Ground is a documentary which shows how regenerating the world’s soils has the potential to rapidly stabilize Earth’s climate, restore lost ecosystems, and create abundant food supplies. The film explains why transitioning to regenerative agriculture could be key in rehabilitating the planet, while invigorating renewed hope and inspiration in viewers.  On Wednesday, April 21, at 2 p.m. ET, national IPL will host a webinar Sacred Ground, a Message of Hope with filmmaker Josh Tickell and Faith in Place’s Veronica Kyle on what congregations can do to be part of the solution to food justice and climate justice. 
Please contact VTIPL for more information and to share your Earth Month event. Thanks!
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

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 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