June 19th marks the 165th anniversary of the death of Jean-Baptiste Muard, the founder of The Society of Saint Edmund. Edmundite heritage was formed in the image of Jesus Christ, so they seek to serve as Jesus did. Edmundites often ask themselves, do our actions speak louder than our words? The Society’s motto, which is Jesus’ invitation: “Learn from me because I am gentle and humble of heart.”
Charity is an Edmundite’s primary virtue. This essential duty is the safeguard of the Society. “We will abhor anything that could attack it and will protect it as the apple of our eyes. Thus, as faithful observers of the commandment that Our Lord gave His apostles to love one another, which He called His precept, we will love one another with a true, firm and heartfelt love. We will share our sorrows, joys and feelings; we will bear with kindness minor differences of temperament and personality in such a way that one would think that all of us had the same personality and temperament. In the joy and peace, which will be our happiness even here below, we will taste the fruit of this tender fraternity.”
The Society of Saint Edmund and The Essex Catholic Community are supporting a group of young people, who departed on Father’s Day, to begin a 135-mile pilgrimage of the Camino (walking between 12 – 18 miles per day). This is the third most important city of pilgrimage after Jerusalem and Rome. The Camino de Santiago in English is the “Way of Saint James” and is a network of pilgrimages leading to the shrine of the apostle of Saint James The Great in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galacia in northwestern Spain. Members of this pilgrimage are praying for unity and for the specific needs of fellow parishioners.
Please come for these amazing mid-week programs at Saint Anne’s Shrine!
July 3: Father Oropeza on Vocations: Beginning with Baptism and Our Call to Holiness
July 10: Father Cray on What Does it Mean to be a Disciple
July 17: Father Carter on Praying with Saint Mary Magdalene
July 24: Father Lavelley on Praying with Saint Thérèse of Lisieux
July 31: Father Hagerty on St. Ignatius of Loyola and the Ascension of Jesus: Bringing About the Kingdom of God
Aug. 7: Farther Harlow on The Transfiguration and Our Transformation
Aug. 14: Father Berube on A Woman Clothed with the Sun and a Crown of Twelve Stars
Aug. 21: Father Theroux on The Apostle Paul and His Letter to the Galatians
Aug. 28: Father Berube on Surprising Conversions: Peter, Paul, and the Woman at the Well
A message from Fr. Brian Cummings, S.S.E., Spiritual Director at Saint Anne's Shrine
The Solemnity of Pentecost is an extremely important feast day for our faith. The bestowing of the Holy Spirit upon the early disciples propelled the birth of the Church and transformed cowering disciples in hiding into bold public proclaimers of Jesus being raised from the dead. We believe that the Holy Spirit continues to guide the Church some 2,000 years later as we navigate the complexities and challenges of the modern and technological world.
This Pilgrimage Season we again ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as we offer many programs to nurture the faith lives of the People of God. In the coming Sundays we will have the Blessing of Automobiles and the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. The 5-Day Silent Retreat is near capacity with 19 of 20 registrations filled. The Wednesday Reflection Series begins July 3 and the presenters and topics have been finalized and listed on our webpage. Weekend retreats with St. Michaels College incoming students and a weeklong retreat by lay associates of the Carmelite Order are scheduled in July. The Family Day for the Diocese of Burlington is scheduled for July 7 beginning with a 12:15 p.m. Mass celebrated by Bishop Coyne followed by a cookout for all provided by our benefactors. Our feast days of St. Anne on July 26 and the Assumption of Mary on August 15 are planned. The summer pilgrimage season looks promising!
We also recognize Sandy Kinney, our Administrator, as she has decided to retire after 50 years of dedicated and faithful service to the Shrine. On July 14 we will honor Sandy with gratitude at the 10:30 a.m. Mass. As we say farewell to Sandy - who will always be close in North Hero to always help us - we welcome with enthusiasm Nancy Dulude to succeed her in this important role as Administrator, collaborating with us Edmundites in serving you, the People of God. We have much to be grateful for, especially the many people who continue to give of themselves for this ministry at the Shrine.
As we journey this summer, I always want to express my gratitude to you for your support of this Edmundite apostolate. Let us join in prayer together this pilgrimage season and pray for one another and for our beloved Church and world. God bless you!
An evergreen tree outside of Nicolle Hall serves as a windsock for Father Paul Couture, S.S.E. If the branches are swaying in the wind too vigorously, it is not the day to go for a bike ride. He attributes his longevity, mobility and memory to staying active. “It’s not just about muscles, but our brains benefit from regular exercise,” he said. “It helps with memory. There is some kind of movement everyone can do.”
Days filled with skiing, football, baseball, bowling, tennis, jogging and even hockey are gone now but Father Paul, 90, still bikes five miles around St. Michael’s College campus and Fort Ethan Allen a couple times a week. Fellow Edmundite Father Stanley Deresienski said Father Paul is a true motivator. “He looks forward to each day, to physical exercise, to private and communal prayer and to study and learn. He is truly a remarkable mentor and friend.”
Father Paul is known for his scholarship in scriptural studies and was the founding director of the Summer Theology Program at St. Michael’s College where he served as Chairman of the Theology Department. “The program was more than just an academic endeavor since it also created a community where faith and reason was celebrated in an intentional way,” Father Brian Cummings, S.S.E. said. “It was a wonderful program that benefited the Church in the United States and Canada.”
The program attracted students from across the nation and several other countries. Many internationally known scholars came to teach including Father Wilfrid Harrington, Monika Hellwig, Father Dermot Lane, Father Gerald O’Collins, Pheme Perkins, Father Godfrey Diekmann, Sister Sandra Schneiders and many others. The program wrapped up recently after 50 years in existence.
“When I think of Father Paul, I remember my first year at St. Michael’s and how he was a wonderful teacher,” Father Brian said. “He is a prolific reader who absorbs various nuances often hidden in biblical articles and writings on Christology. He is extremely generous in sharing his life’s work and knowledge with others on a daily basis.”
Society of Saint Edmund Superior General Father David Cray said Father Paul “has great intellectual curiosity and is humble and grateful.” He has known Father Paul since his student days at Saint Michael’s College in the 1960s. In addition to having taught in the seminary and at Saint Michael’s College, Father Paul made himself generously available in retirement by conducting well-attended Biblical studies programs in parishes in the greater Burlington area.
“People comment on his ability to communicate his knowledge in ways that make the Scriptures accessible to ordinary people,” Father David said.
For 16 years, Father Paul led a bible study at St. John Vianney. Now he leads a group at Our Lady of Grace in Colchester that is keeping him connected to the community he ministered to for more than a decade. Father Stan said his friend empowers people. “He truly believes that the Church is still developing,” he said. “He shows by his words and actions the importance of prayer and good liturgy. He is a good example of living the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.”
The culture and influences in which Father Paul grew led him to a devout life. Religious organizations and communities, like The Society of Saint Edmund, ran most of the schools and activities of daily living north and south of the U.S.-Canadian border in 1929, the year he was born. His family was Catholic and dozens of his first cousins straddled the border. Three became priests.
One major influence was Uncle Damase Couture, a Catholic priest who often visited Father Paul in Vermont by dogsled. He was missionary to the original inhabitants of James Bay in Canada. Another influence was his Aunt Corinne Beaudoin, a nun who spent years on mission in China. Her religious name was Soeur St. Olivier and she was a member of the Missionnaires Notre Dame des Anges. “It was a point of pride to have a vocation in the family,” Father Paul said.
“We are meant to leave the world that is distorted in its views and values, but not to leave the world of mercy, the poor, the old, infants, ecology and environment—the world of correctly using creation as Pope Francis has emphasized. Do not leave that world. Get involved in it.” ~Father Paul Couture, S.S.E.
It was also the humble respect and worship modeled by his parents that led to his own choice of entering into a life of Catholic ministry. He remembers quiet times of deep reverence in his childhood home that went hand and hand with hard work. They recited the rosary together and when he was not in school, delivering newspapers by bicycle or milking cows, his mother, Laura (Beaudoin) Couture, had him memorizing catechisms in French to recite aloud. She was a teacher for a short time in a rural school. His father, Flavien Couture, bought a dairy farm in Barre and worked in the granite industry to supplement farmer’s wages. He eventually started his own granite business.
Father Paul went to grade school in Northfield and then high school in Swanton where the Society of St. Edmund had an apostolic school, also called a Juniorate. He also attended St. Monica’s School in Barre for a short time. He studied language and philosophy at St. Michael’s College before heading to Rome for four years at Pontifical Gregorian University, and then two years at Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome. He became fluent in German, Greek and Hebrew in addition to English and French. He taught for a few years to obtain a final degree in Biblical Studies at both the Gregorian and the Biblical Institute. In all, he was in Rome for 8 years.
Religious life is one way of living in that kind of world of loving God and serving others, Father Paul said. “The Society of Saint Edmund is small but that has an advantage. We all know each other and can help each other,” he said.
As to why the number of Edmundites are reduced to 23, down from the multitude they were when he was a boy, he said, “I am a priest partly because there was a predisposition in our culture at the time. We are in different times now with strong secular influences in this culture. The atmosphere was different when I was a youngster.”
When asked if he had anything else to add he said, “We are meant to leave the world that is distorted in its views and values, but not to leave the world of mercy, the poor, the old, infants, ecology and environment—the world of correctly using creation as Pope Francis has emphasized. Do not leave that world. Get involved in it.”
For more information about The Society of Saint Edmund, our Edmundites, or choosing your vocation please visit www.SSE.org or call Fr. Lino Oropeza at (802) 654-2344 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.