Representatives of Vermont’s Catholic parishes gathered at St. Joseph Cathedral in Burlington April 16 for the annual Holy Week Chrism Mass and to witness the promulgation of the declaration of the Diocesan Synod and the formal announcement of the cause for canonization for the first bishop of the Diocese of Burlington.

The 90-minute Chrism Mass was rich in tradition as priests and parishioners from the statewide Diocese celebrated the priesthood of Jesus Christ and watched Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne bless oils that will be used throughout the year in the sacramental life of the Church.

“The Church is not our buildings. The Church is us, the breathing, living, Body of Christ,” Bishop Coyne said in his homily, the day after Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris burned. “We are the Church. We are God’s holy people, doing holy things. While our places of gathering are important, it is our gathering that manifests and enacts our communion in Christ.”

He encouraged all in the nearly filled cathedral to be zealous for salvation of souls. “To this end, I believe we must first be zealous for the salvation of our own souls, to turn away from sin, to embrace the teaching of the Church, to seek always and in all things to know Him, to love Him and to serve Him, to keep our eyes focused on the journey’s end — our salvation,” he said. “The first priority that has come out of our Diocesan Synod is the call to evangelization, to seek to bring back those who have left the Church and to invite those who have never been a part of or faith to join the Church. To evangelize means to bring others to believe. But … we must first be evangelized ourselves.”

The bishop promulgated the official Synod Declaration, entitled “Christ Our Hope.” He met in four sessions with the delegates of the 2018 synod at which the themes of evangelization, building vibrant parishes and communication; were addressed.

The 10-page document, distributed after the Chrism Mass, contains recommendations in each of those categories for building the Church in Vermont.

“The work that lies ahead for all members of the Catholic Church in Vermont is to share joyfully by word and deed our love of God and the Church with all those we encounter. This must be done on a personal level as well as on parish and diocesan levels with a special focus on evangelization, vibrant parishes and communication,” he wrote in the conclusion.

“In good times and in challenging times, we need to be committed to our parishes to provide stability as structures, personnel and society change. Consistent Mass attendance, regular prayer for the parish and priests, joyful participation in parish and diocesan events and ministries, open minds and hearts and positive attitudes go a long way in fostering a vibrant parish and in evangelizing and communicating the Good News of the Church,” he encouraged. “Above all, we must love God with our whole hearts and souls and our neighbors as ourselves, for without love, none of our work of evangelization, building vibrant parishes and of communicating the message of salvation will succeed.”

And now that Bishop Coyne has announced the canonization cause for Bishop deGoesbriand, the next step is to develop and foster the cult/devotion of the faithful toward Bishop deGoesbriand.

The process is directed through the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

Bishop Coyne was impressed with the sacrificial nature of Bishop deGoesbriand’s life and wanted to pursue the cause for canonization.

The first Vermont Catholic bishop’s “life was lived in true service to the flock entrusted to his care,” said Msgr. McDermott, vicar general, who at the Chrism Mass read the document beginning the process to have him declared a saint of the Church, noting Bishop deGoesbriand was recognized for his heroic life of holiness and virtue.

During the Mass, Bishop Coyne blessed the oils that symbolize the link of the parishes with the bishop in sacramental ministry. The Mass was a sign of the unity of the local Church in Vermont.

The oils blessed were the Oil of the Sick, Oil of Catechumens and the Chrism Oil. To prepare the Chrism Oil, Bishop Coyne mixed in balsam, the perfume that gives it a rich aroma.

Scores of priests from every region of the Diocese attended the special morning Mass, after which they or their representatives received oils to bring to their churches.

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