Fr. Tom Hoar, SSE, president of St. Edmund's Retreat, reflects on Mary's response at the Wedding Feast at Cana when she told the servant: "Do whatever He tells you." As we grapple with the mounting cultural anxiety, Father encourages us to meditate on Christ's Way of the Cross and Peter's stepping out of the boat in faith.
Fr. Tom Hoar, SSE, president of St. Edmund's Retreat, reflects on the relic of St. Edmund of Canterbury housed in the Chapel of Our Lady of the Assumption Chapel on Enders Island in Mystic, CT—the severed arm of an incorrupt saint, one of the largest relics in North America. This same relic which has brought healing to so many is a powerful witness to the courage and trust we need in this current crisis.
Fr. Tom Hoar, SSE, president of St. Edmund's Retreat, invites us to respond to the current crisis as a true community of Faith. Even as we comply with Federal and State guidelines requiring us to maintain social distancing—even as we refrain from gathering for Mass—we do so with an inner peace and trust that God's faithfulness will never disappoint.
Mass celebration for the Fourth Sunday of Lent. Recorded on 03/21/2020 at 2:00 pm.
Right now, we are all doing our part to safeguard the health and well-being of the larger community by helping prevent the spread of COVID-19. We are keeping up with advice from the CDC as scientists discover more about this pandemic. Please know the Edmundite Community is praying for you and your loved ones.
Edmundite Prayers during the Pandemic
A “Collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary” was published in 1992. I have modified and adapted some of the prayers of that collection as prayers which might be offered during the pandemic that currently afflicts us. ~ Rev.Richard Myhalyk, S.S.E.
“Lord, we ask for an end to this pandemic that prevents us from receiving Christ in the Eucharist. Allow us to celebrate again with deep faith the mysteries of our redemption. Amen.”
Lord our God, Savior of the human family, you brought salvation and joy to the home of Elizabeth through the visit of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the ark of the New Covenant. We ask that, in obedience to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the pandemic that afflicts us may end so that we too may bring Christ to others and proclaim your greatness by the praise of our lips and the holiness of our lives.
Lord our God, you sent your Son from heaven into the womb of the Blessed Virgin to be your saving Word and our Bread of Life. End the pandemic that prevents us from receiving Christ in the Eucharist by treasuring his words in our hearts and by receiving his precious Body and Blood. Allow us to celebrate again with deep faith the mysteries of our redemption. Protect the lives of the unborn and all mothers from harm.
The Presentation in the Temple
Lord, your broken and afflicted people turn to you as the pandemic weighs heavily upon us and prevents us from entering your sacred temple. Grant that the Church, the chaste Bride of Christ, may keep unbroken the New Covenant of love and, like your humble handmaid, Mary, who presented to you in the temple the author of the New Law, may the Church keep its faith unspotted, grow in hope of heaven, and deepen its heartfelt love for you.
The Foot of the Cross (1)
Lord our God, in your mysterious wisdom you fill out the passion of Christ through the suffering that his members endure in the many trials of life. As you chose to have the mournful mother stand by your Son in his agony on the cross, grant that all who care for those afflicted by the pandemic may bring healing, comfort and love to our brothers and sisters in distress.
The Foot of the Cross (2)
Lord our God, you placed at the side of your suffering Son his mother to suffer with him, so that the human race, deceived by the wiles of the devil, might become a new and resplendent creation. Grant that your people may put aside their inheritance of sin and divisions and put on the newness of life won by Christ the Redeemer so that unselfish love and united efforts may end the pandemic and advance more and more the great work of redemption.
Fountain of Light and Life
Lord, from the chaste womb of the baptismal font the Church, our mother, has given to the children of this earth a new birth as children of heaven. As you cleansed us spiritually in the waters of baptism, cleanse us physically of the pandemic. Grant that through the life-giving Gospel and your grace-filled sacraments the Church may form its daughters and sons in the likeness of Christ, its founder, who was born of a Virgin Mother as the firstborn of many brothers and sisters and the Savior of the human race.
The Holy Name of Mary
Lord our God, when your Son was dying on the altar of the cross, he gave us as our mother the one he had chosen to be his own mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary; grant that during the pandemic we who call upon the holy name of Mary, our mother, with confidence in her protection may receive strength and comfort in all our needs.
The Handmaid of the Lord
Lord our God, in your loving plan of redemption you chose the Blessed Virgin, your lowly handmaid, to be the mother and companion of Christ your Son; grant that by constantly looking up to her we may give you wholehearted service in untiring care for the salvation of the world. Guide, protect, and strengthen all caregivers whose wholehearted service provide untiring care for those afflicted by the pandemic.
The Seat of Wisdom
All-holy Father, eternal God, in your goodness you prepared a royal throne for your Wisdom in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary; bathe your Church in the radiance of your life-giving Word, that, pressing forward on its pilgrim way in the light of your truth, it may come to the joy of a perfect knowledge of your love. Fill with wisdom and understanding those who search for remedies and cures for the pandemic that assails us.
The Immaculate Heart
Lord our God, you made the immaculate heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary the home of your eternal Word and the sanctuary of the Holy Spirit. Give us a heart that is free from sin and attentive to your will, that, faithful to your commandments, we may love you above all things and seek to help others in their need. Strengthen the hearts, lungs, and vital organs of those who suffer from the pandemic so that healed of their illness they may praise and thank you with all their heart, mind and strength.
The Mother of Good Counsel
Lord, you know that our thoughts on earth are full of fear and uncertainty; through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, from whom your Son took flesh and blood, send us the gift of counsel to teach us how to discern your will and to guide us in all we do. Fill with abundant grace and blessings those who teach and those who counsel so that guided by truth and directed by experience this pandemic may be ended.
The Pillar of Faith
Almighty and eternal God, you gave the Blessed Virgin Mary, glorious mother of your Son, as a pillar of strength to all who call upon her aid; grant through her intercession that we may be strong in faith, unwavering in hope, and steadfast in love during this time of trial and suffering.
The Mother of Hope
Lord God, you have given the Blessed Virgin Mary to your Church as a beacon of unfailing hope. In your goodness grant that those who are burdened by life’s cares and those who despair of salvation may find their hearts warmed and uplifted as they turn to her in their need.
Back in the day, during National Fire Week, when the red, kid-sized fire hats were handed out, Father Stephen Hornat, S.S.E. was first in line at his local firehouse in Hartford, CT. As a child, he was fascinated with the entire operation. Little did he know then, he would grow to be one of the first members of Saint Michael’s College Fire & Rescue.
As a college sophomore, Hornat quickly discovered the harsh realities of being a firefighter under Chief Don Sutton’s wing. Training to save lives in dense smoke was the most frightening experience he had up to that point in his life. “I really thought I was going to die,” Hornat said.
This year marks the 50th Annual Saint Michael’s College Fire & Rescue Banquet to happen on March 28. Edmundite Father Ray Doherty is a member of Fire & Rescue’s Board of Directors. He will be speaking at the prayer service before the banquet. He said he appreciates the selfless devotion of the student members who willingly make big sacrifices to serve people in need. “Fire & Rescue students, past and present, are the best, and are well-deserving of our admiration and gratitude,” he said.
Father Tom Hoar, S.S.E. was also on the first crew. He was most significantly involved with rescue as a Vermont state and nationally registered EMT. It was at a critical time in the state’s history when emergency medicine was just getting off the ground, he said. He was part of Saint Michael’s rescue work with the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Transport Team for Vermont Children’s Hospital. He baptized his first baby in the back of an ambulance. Saint Michael’s supported Vermont Children’s Hospital in this capacity from 1974 to 2009.
“I was so proud of our work with neonatal transport,” Sutton said. “We did it at great expense to us. We did a lot of begging and borrowing. We made it happen.”
Hoar said Edmundite Brother Frank Hagerty was a real powerhouse and had a significant role with the transport team. “He is an unsung hero,” he said.
Hagerty was highly involved with rescue early on. He took a first aid course in the second semester of his freshman year at Saint Michael’s College. He worked as a nursing assistant in Selma, AL, during the summertime and was on the rescue crew during the school year. He went on to obtain a BS in nursing from The University of Vermont. He served on rescue from 1971 to 1976 and after five years in Venezuela, he was back on rescue again from 1981 to 1989.
“Right from the beginning it was student run and it was so impactful,” Hagerty said. “Not only with on-the-job training and emergency medical care, but also with our leadership skills.” He served as training officer for two years and captain of the rescue unit for one year.
Hagerty said the department came out of the 60s and 70s movement of volunteerism and altruism. “This was very important to people,” he said. “There was a need. We were busy.”
Sutton remembers the military draft and turmoil on campus when he and a few others started a safety committee that led to the birth of Fire & Rescue. “It was a divisive time,” Sutton said. “There was a need to have something for students to get involved in. There was a need to try to create a better atmosphere on campus, which we have done at Saint Mike’s through the help of the Church and their work. The Edmundites are important for the college. I have seen what they do. They reach out where it is needed most and make the world a better place.”
Hoar remembers the era when Saint Michael’s Fire & Rescue began as well. “Those were the days of rage,” he said. “It was a transitional time in our history. At Saint Mike’s, Don helped many of us make that transition through his innate ability to relate to people.”
The Austin Hall blaze was their first big fire call. This building in the center of Saint Michael’s campus served as the theater, radio station, ROTC and the dining hall. It was a total loss that winter night of 1971 in the freezing cold, Hornat said. He remembers it was the first time he ever managed a fire hose. “I got a quick lesson and started spraying water on the building and the hose broke. It was flopping around all over the place. There was ice everywhere and we were slipping.”
Edmundite Father Richard VanderWeel was in charge of the seminarians and lived on campus. “I had the perfect view of Austin Hall as it was burning,” he said. “I let the firefighters know that if they were hungry I was making popcorn with my brand new popcorn maker. I remember it well.”
Sutton found Hornat another hose. This time there was another problem. “Don came over and told me I had to bring the hose down because I had arched it to such a point that the Winooski firefighters on the other side of the building were getting all of the water,” Hornat chuckled. “We were all inexperienced.”
It was an exciting time, VanderWeel remembered. “Those kids were really dedicated. Sometimes a little too dedicated. I had to remind them they were here to go to college. They were a good bunch. They were good kids.”
VanderWeel also knows Sutton well. “He is really good with students,” he said. “He’s strict, but very good. He is such a great guy.”
In those first years, the young crew met on a regular basis and trained every week. They would even enter competitions called firefighters’ musters with local firehouses. Regional fire training schools were put on by the state. “It was a great experience,” Hornat said. “Don was like a drill sergeant. He kept us very disciplined.”
Hornat came back in the 1980s for a time and served as a Chaplin for Saint Michael’s Fire and Rescue. Today, Edmundite Father Brian Cummings serves in that capacity. As for celebrating a half century of service with Saint Michael’s College Fire and Rescue at their banquet, Hornat said, “I am very excited for Don. He is the figurehead. We are all living for this moment to reconnect people who have been a part of the department all of this time. This event is bringing us all together.”
Sutton, also known as Pappy, said, “I am looking forward to seeing all of my kids.”
Even the original fire engine will be present at the banquet. Through a fundraising drive and gracious alumni donors, Fire & Rescue was able to complete the restoration of Engine 409 a few weeks ago. Rescue Chief John Keating said 409 is a 1957 Ward LaFrance, purchased used from Hazlett, NJ in February of 1970. “As Pappy recalls, it was a very cold drive from New Jersey to Vermont in the middle of winter,” Keating said.
About 10 years ago, Fire & Rescue located the old engine, reacquired it and began the restoration process, which started in Williston, and then had it moved to Pfahl’s Mack & Antique Truck Restorations in Bethlehem, CT.
“As an organization, we are so immensely grateful to all those who have come before us in the early days who laid the foundation for such an amazing organization,” Keating said. “We are thankful for the original members and the support that both the College and the Edmundites have graciously given us over our fifty years of existence.”
The heart of the Society of Saint Edmund’s mission is serving where the need is greatest, a credo that has led us to four core ministries: Social Justice, Education, Spiritual Renewal and Pastoral Ministry. It is through these core ministries that we live out a faith-based life of service and make a real difference in people’s lives by bringing them closer to God.