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.