One month on …


So I was going to publish this on the one month anniversary of my installation as bishop of Burlington, but this is not leap year so there is no February 29. Anyway, I know I said I was going to take things slow for a while and get acclimated to the people and clergy of the Diocese but I can’t help myself. I’m just someone who jumps in feet first. So, here a few things that I have initiated over the past 31 days:

– I have begun a consultation process with the priests of the Diocese to surface names for a Vicar for Clergy and a new full-time vocation director. In the interim, Msgr. Richard LaValley will continue to serve as Vicar for Clergy with particular outreach to our retired priests and Fr. Jon-Daniel Schnobrich will serve as interim vocation director. It is very clear to me that the position of vocation director must be full-time as he will need to foster vocations to the priesthood and religious life, visit our present seminarians at their respective schools, consult with their those responsible for there formation, and work within the Diocese to develop a culture of vocations.

– I have also begun to work with the Presbyteral Council and the Clergy Personnel Board to reinstate the program of priest sabbaticals so that priests may at the end of a particular period of time apply to take a two-three months sabbatical for renewal, rest, and education. Not quite sure yet about the particulars (funding, parish coverage, etc.) but we are going to make it happen.

– I have scheduled meetings with the clergy of the Diocese in the very near future, the permanent deacons on Sunday night April 19 and a meeting with the priests on Wednesday March 18. Besides getting to know the men a bit more it will give me an opportunity to listen to them and hear how their work is going. I particularly want to encourage the permanent deacons, my fellow clergy, in their important ministry and work with them and the priests to rejuvenate the program of diaconal formation. I am also beginning to schedule my attendance at the local deanery meetings at least once a year.

– Our seminarians will be glad to know (I think) that I am currently working to schedule a visit to see them at their respective seminaries before the Spring semester is out.

– The online survey on the Synod on the Vocation and Mission of the Family and the Church will be completed soon and we will post the summary report on the Diocesan webpage when we send the report on to the USCCB.

– I am continuing to serve on two USCCB committees and two subcommittees while also serving as the episcopal advisor to the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership.

– On the weekend of March 13-14 in the parishes of Wallingford, Middletown Springs, and Poultney I will begin the process of parish visitations with an opportunity for listening sessions with the Catholic communities there. As I move forward in the calendar, I will make every opportunity to publicize these visits so folks can attend.

– At her request, I have given the go-ahead to Pat Gore, the editor of “Vermont Catholic” magazine to expand the writing, editorial, and topical resources available to her as she produces the magazine each month. My hope is that our magazine will clearly reflect the diversity of the Catholic community here in Vermont.

– I have named Sr. Laura Della Santa superintendent of our Catholic Schools. She had been acting superintendent and had done a fine job in the interim. I am happy she accepted.

– I asked Sr. Laura to begin a consultative process within the Diocese around the idea of creating an on-line Catholic high school for the whole state. The thought is that there are many families who would like to have the opportunity to have their sons and daughters attend a Catholic high school but live in a rural county and/or are too far away from our existing high schools. The hope is to set-up an online academy with a series of regional “hubs” to which the students would travel one day a week for Mass, formation, counseling, fellowship, tutoring, etc. but the majority of their classroom work would be on-line in their homes the other four days of the week. If this comes together we hope to keep it low-cost and accessible to everyone. We most definitely would want to work with our two existing high schools to use their expertise and resources and to make sure we strengthen their mission. As I said, this is just at the starting point of discussion but I think it is something to really consider …

– I have in my schedule a visit to celebrate Mass at all of our Catholic schools over the next two months. St. Mary’s in Middlebury yesterday was the first of fifteen. I also plan to do every Confirmation on the schedule (god willing).

– I am meeting with many civic, government, and ecumenical/interfaith leaders to get to know them and discern with them what we Catholics can do to work to serve the common good of our state. I am also trying to visit as many of the religious communities that we have in the state and schedule the celebration of Mass at some of our state prison.

Oh, and I’ll get home every once in a while to visit Mom.

God bless.





14 Comments. Leave new

Wow! What an agenda! You are a breath of fresh for our diocese in so many ways. I look forward to you visiting St. Andrew’s parish in Waterbury. Could it be a weekend? 0:-)

Thank you Bishop Coyne for being a man of your word. You said that you would look into the well being of our Priests especially the Senior retired. The Senior Priests have given so much to this Diocese and have asked little in return. Many are sick or in nursing homes or must live on their own. Thank you for addressing their situation. God has truly blessed us in sending you to the Diocese of Burlington. You are truly a man of your word. Joseph

Fantastic agenda! You’ve taken a cue from Francis I. I especially like the idea of an on-line Catholic high school…makes a great deal of sense. Let me hitchhike the idea of on-line Adult formation as a future possibility. Prayers for all your endeavors.

Feet first indeed! Seems like “heart first” too! God bless you. Love the idea of an on-line Catholic High School!

Dear Bishop Coyne,
I was so grateful to read today’s messages. You did not disappoint me with your plans to get to know the clergy, support them and give them a sense of community so they realize they are not alone. I had a real concern about that part of your ministry and am so thankful that it is a priority for you, as well.
I know there are only so many hours in a day, and hopefully you will recognize when you need to go to the mountain or the desert.
I pray for you and all those who are so committed to doing the will of the father. Stay well and thank you for being the presence I hoped for.
Wishing you many blessings,
Lee Forte.

I LOVE the idea of an online Catholic high school – especially when the diocese encompasses the entire state! Good on you!

Wow!! Bishop Coyne, I Love it! Way to hit the ground running. I appreciate your commitment to Vocations, the Permanent Diaconate, and the idea of an Online Catholic High School is brilliant. A statewide Online Catholic High School might also help our future generations of Catholics become more connected across the state. Good stuff Bishop Coyne, we feel so blessed to have you here.

How about an online equivalent of RCIA?

Martha Quinlan
February 28, 2015 7:23 am

Your plans leave me to believe that at last we will lose the the title of Least Religeous State in the country.Thank you. Marty Quinlan

Sally Ann Young
February 28, 2015 3:48 pm

We are so blessed to have you in God’s country, the state of Vermont, where we not only have His beautiful creation but also His loving guidance from you. All your ideas are incredible. I especially love the on-line Catholic high school for the students who do not have it available for them at this time. We are blessed in Vermont with some wonderful priests and deacons. It is so nice to hear your caring thoughts for them, especially the sabbatical for our priests. May God bless you always! SallyAnn

I love, love, love the idea of an online Catholic high school. When my three oldest children were young, we lived in Gilman and there was no Catholic school for them to attend, so I homeschooled them. However, as they grew older it was too isolating for them to be the only homeschooled kids in town, so I allowed them to go to St Johnsbury Academy, and we moved to St Johnsbury in order to make it easier for them.
Your idea for once a week meetings would make it much less isolating for the students.
I would also love it if you would move the Powers That Be to allow our children to be Confirmed when they are Baptized, as they are in the Eastern Church. We are bleeding young Catholics, mostly because they never received the Gifts of the Spirit that comes with Confirmation when they were young babies. These Gifts would have made such a difference in helping them learn their Faith and prepare for their vocations.
I listened to my pastor ask in the Prayer of the Faithful for our Confirmandi to be open to the Holy Spirit when they are Confirmed. He would not have had to ask for this, if they had received the Sacrament when they had just been Baptized, cleansed of original Sin and too young to have ever committed any actual sin to impede the reception.
Confirmation is a Sacrament; it does what it signifies even if the recipient is an infant. It does not require the recipient to study for it if he is only a baby, and receiving it makes it easier for that baby to grow and mature in the Faith and to be open to the teachings of the Church.
Not Confirming children until “they are old enough to decide” is not much different than those parents who refuse to Baptize their children until “they are old enough to decide for themselves”. Those parents don’t understand that by not Baptizing them, they have already decided for their children. So have we, I believe, when we don’t Confirm them as infants. Thank you for your time.

Mary Anne Sullivan
March 2, 2015 10:29 am

. The students at Saint Mary’s School in Middlebury are deeply cherished by our parish community, and their presence at Friday morning Mass as they read from scripture and present the offerings is a soutce of great joy for us. Father Beaudin’s love and committment to them is palpable and emblematic of the care we all have for little ones who are building their relationship with God. Friday mornings are a joy for us adults who wonder and sometimes chuckle good-naturedly at their responses to Father’s questions. Thank you, “pumpkin head,” for your visit and the beautiful conversation with our children Mass.

Harold M. Frost, III, Ph.D.
March 6, 2015 10:45 am

Your Excellency, thank you for letting us know what you are doing, in part as it helps us who pray for you daily to be specific in our intercessions, such as for the success now of a consultative process you started for an on-line Catholic high school. Too, it’s great you are inserting more of the theme of diversity of the faithful within our awareness of the activities of the Diocese of Burlington, as in coverage by our monthly magazine “Vermont Catholic.” Respect for diversity wthin the framework of being one can lead to discovery of surprises, and I hope that Ms. Pat Gore the editor does find a few which she can then highlight in its pages. Finally, if you go to the Feb. 13 blog (“In Rome for meetings”) of Cardinal Sean, Archbishop of Boston, who presided over your Installation Mass as our Bishop, you will see a Feb. 16 request there (accepted by the blog’s moderator) for him to offer up prayers for you as our new Bishop, at Masses that he celebrates. And, In re that Installation Mass (on Jan. 29 in Burlington), your beautiful and caring mother who was in a front row seat there in the nave at St. Joseph’s Co-Cathedral is also in my daily prayers for you.

Jeanne Penoyar
March 6, 2015 1:00 pm

Could you schedule a meeting with those that have completed the Lay Apostolate (Lay Ministry) Program? There are about 100 or so that have graduated from that program. Many have gone on to become deacons. Many are very active in their parishes and could be a great resource for the diocese. The Graduate Directory was last updated in the Fall of 2011 as far as I know.
Praying for you and the diocese.