“Perfection of the life or of the work?” will be the topic of the next keynote speaker at the Vermont Catholic Professionals networking meeting.

The speaker, Laurie Brands Gagne, is the retired director of the Edmundite Center for Peace and Justice at St. Michael’s College in Colchester.

Her presentation will be on Jan. 19.

The title comes from a poem by William Butler Yeats entitled “The Choice.”

“I’ll be talking about the importance of that choice and what it means to integrate one’s work-life with one’s whole life as a Christian,” said Gagne, of South Burlington, who worships with the St. Michael’s College community.

Gagne received her doctorate in systematic theology from the University of Notre Dame and taught religious studies for many years at Trinity College of Vermont. While at Trinity, she wrote The Uses of Darkness: Women’s Underworld Journeys Ancient and Modern, which was published by University of Notre Dame Press (2000) as well as a number of articles on philosopher/mystic Simone Weil and the spiritual journey.

When Trinity closed in 2001, she began a new phase of her career teaching “Peace and Justice” at St. Michael’s College.

Outside the classroom, Gagne was an activist, beginning a nationwide campaign on behalf of Congolese women in 2010 and helping to found the Vermont Ibutwa Initiative, a non-profit that assisted women who are survivors of rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Now retired, she has edited a book on Simone Weil (“Love in the Void”), serves on Burlington’s Mater Christi School Board of Trustees and gives workshops for the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative.

Continuing her activism, she served as a member of Meta Peace Team, an unarmed force for civilian protection, for a month in Palestine in 2018 and conducted a fact-finding trip to Ibutwa’s projects in South Kivu, DRC in 2019.

Among her awards, Gagne received from Trinity College in Burlington the Sister Katherine O’Donnell Outstanding Faculty Award (1988) and from St. Michael’s, the Vermont Campus Compact Award for Excellence in Community-Based Teaching (2012).

“I would advise Catholic professionals to take the time to share their faith with each other and how it might apply to their work. Without support, it is easy to let merely professional goals override the goals we all should be striving for, namely, wisdom and love,” Gagne said.

The purpose of Vermont Catholic Professionals — founded in 2018 — is to join Catholic men and women and others with shared values from the business and professional communities to encourage intellectual discussions, to foster professional and faith-based relationships and to inspire service and charity to the community in Vermont. Events take place quarterly with a professional development speaker that is relevant to the business and professional communities in Vermont.

For more information about Vermont Catholic Professionals and the location of the Jan. 19 event, go to vermontcatholic.org/vcp

Wednesday, January 19, 2022 • 8 a.m.

Laurie Brands Gagne, retired director of the Edmundite Center for Peace and Justice at St. Michael’s College in Colchester.

Register at: vermontcatholic.org/vcp

—Originally published in the Jan. 1-7, 2022, edition of The Inland See.