During the summer months, I was fortunate to spend a few weeks of vacation at our family cottage on the coast of Maine. I say “fortunate” because I realize that for all kinds of reasons, most especially the Covid-19 pandemic, many were unable to have anything resembling a vacation this year. Indeed, some of you see the idea of a vacation as wishful thinking even in the best of times. So, I am truly fortunate for having my time away.

In many ways, my summer vacation was no different than any other year: The beach was the same, the Maine water was still a bit chilly, and the daily patterns of vacation were pretty much like any other year.

But in other ways, it was very different. I found myself talking to neighbors and friends “across the hedge,” maintaining safe social distancing, especially with my elderly friends. The vegetables I brought from my garden were left at the backdoor with a knock and wave and hurried conversation at a distance. The next day I got a text from the same neighbor telling me a blueberry pie was on my porch and to hurry and get it before the chipmunks did.

A few times, we gathered outside for an early evening happy hour, each in our safely distanced chair with our own glass of wine, catching up on all of the news we missed since last summer.

Whenever anyone would make their masked and gloved way to the supermarket there was a shout-out to the neighbors, “Does anyone need anything at the store?” Life went on, although not the same. Even in a time of social distancing and quarantine, friendship and community were maintained.

The same is true for the Church here in Vermont. While many things are different because of the pandemic, many things are the same. We adapt, we compromise, we think creatively, and we try new ways of being who we are as a people of Christian faith.  Even in time of social distancing and quarantine, fellowship and communion are maintained.

I am so grateful to all of you who have been and continue to be faithful Catholics throughout all of this. At times I am overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness and generosity of so many of my brothers and sisters in Christ. Yet when I stop and think about it, I really shouldn’t be because so many of you are just doing what you’ve always done — being disciples of Christ. I see in your love of the master and my love for Him as well a unity of heart and soul that shines as a part of the beacon of hope that the Church has been from its beginning.

I thank you for your generosity in terms of your time, talent and treasure in service to the Gospel. While I know I can continue to rely on this as you consider a gift to the Christ Our Hope Campaign, I also know I can count on your support and prayers for all the works of the Church in Vermont.

Oh, and while I love blueberry pie, no need to leave me one on the back porch. My workout friends are watching my calories. While somethings change, other things remain the same.

And one other thing: Thank you to the faithful priests and deacons of our Diocese who have been absolutely stellar during these past few months. Ad moltos annos, my brothers!

—Originally published in the Fall 2020 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.