Isle La Motte native Sandy Kinney has officially been working in the office at Saint Anne’s Shrine for 47 years but she got her start in the cafeteria as a teenager. She is retiring from her post as Site Administrator this month. Her duties of late have been to work with the Spiritual Director developing programs and raising funds and working closely with the Edmundite Chief Financial Officer on all business and operational aspects of the Shrine. She has rolled with the changes and witnessed substantial growth, she said fondly of her tenure.
The Shrine will not be the same without Sandy’s presence, Shrine Spiritual Director Father Brian Cummings said. “She is able to read my mind and anticipate exactly what I am thinking or the direction we need to take. We are always on the same page and she actually manages me so that I could fill other leadership roles at different Edmundite apostolates. I could only do this knowing that the Shrine had outstanding administrative leadership in Sandy. I will miss Sandy very much but she will be local and I know she wants to stay involved as a volunteer in years to come. Thank God for that!”
Sandy said the best part of her career has been the ability to raise her family while growing spiritually within the Edmundite community. “In my heart God is first, then my family, then my job. That was always honored. This job fed my soul. It nurtured and helped me grow.”
She has been the constant through a long series of administrators and directors, ultimately assuming the role of Site Administrator overseeing all the day-to-day operations at the Shrine. She has worked to support the spiritual work of the Shrine through years of Father Maurice Boucher’s time as Director and continuing through the extraordinary growth in programming under Father Brian.
“Sandy’s knowledge of all aspects of the Shrine are only overshadowed by her love for and commitment to its works,” Edmundite CFO Steve Karcher said. “We will miss her daily presence on the grounds but look forward to seeing her smile and hearing her laugh as a regular visitor and volunteer going forward.”
Father Brian said Sandy is a selfless employee who embraced the mission of the Shrine 110%. “She always has a genuine concern for the welfare of our pilgrims and strives to make the Shrine a welcoming place for all visitors,” he said.
Sandy said she “has never not worked” and that it took her two full years to reach the decision to retire. She sees herself continuing to be with the ministry of the Shrine in some capacity but her husband of 47 years, Bill, has been patiently waiting for her to step into the next chapter of life with him. He retired four years ago. While Sandy spends her days devoted to the Shrine, Bill is ready to do some traveling. Italy, and around the United States, is on the agenda. Concentrated time with grandchildren in Washington State is priority. The Kinneys have two adult sons and seven grandchildren. Sandy also wants to spend time with her siblings who are now out west.
Growing up with seven brothers and three sisters who were all altar servers and in the choir at St. Joseph’s in Isle La Motte, and devout worshippers at Saint Anne’s Shrine in the summertime, left a lasting impression on Sandy. “I have always felt at home in a church,” she said. “It calms me and recharges me. It feeds my body, soul and spirit.”
Edmundite Fathers conduct religious programming and liturgies throughout the entire year for all ages at the Shrine but devotion has changed over the course of these five decades, Sandy said. Years ago, large pilgrimage groups from Canada would visit these historic shores of the Shrine to attend Mass in the outside Chapel.
Saint Anne’s Shrine is a bustling hub of activity all year round because of the Edmundites willingness to change course, she said. “Once Father Brian started here as Spiritual Director he brought new life,” Sandy said. “He is current and fresh and he brought a lot of young people from Saint Michael’s College and beyond to the Shrine and breathed new life into the space.”
The number of residents in and around Isle La Motte triples in the summertime. It has always been a seasonal haven for many travelers. Because of this, young families of all denominations come to Mass at the Shrine because they are away from their home parishes. “You see more young people at Mass with the Edmundites,” Sandy said. “They bring a relevant, more current, relatable energy with them wherever they go. I think that is the difference. The Edmundites are wonderful stewards of this center. They are on a mission to feed people spiritually.”
The Saint Michael’s College students who spend time at the Shrine on weekend overnight retreats say it best. They tell her the Shrine is a place that makes you want to put your phone away and live in the moment. “It’s been my whole life,” Sandy said. “Now it’s time for something new. It has just been wonderful.”
Sandy models service as Christ taught us. “She has an incredible institutional memory for remembering the needs and challenges of our pilgrims from year to year or from one piece of correspondence to another,” Father Brian said. “She loves the people and gives so much of herself in serving them.”
Managing Shrine events and keeping the Edmundites and staff on track with the myriad of happenings that occur is no small feat. “The Shrine can be a frenetic place with people coming and going amidst a multitude of spiritual programs taking place, particularly now that we have overnight retreat facilities,” Father Brian said.
Most notably, Sandy successfully managed the transition from a five month seasonal ministry to a twelve month all year round operation. She was able to continue the traditional pilgrimage programs and help Father Brian expand them in the summer months while at the same time launching retreat facilities. Constructing seven cabins, a new maintenance building and a conference center was a time consuming and complicated undertaking but Sandy was able to provide leadership in this expansion of the Edmundite mission. The Shrine even added a beautiful granite Columbarium for the interment of cremated remains. Sandy always had the capacity to get the job done regardless of the situation.
“The most important thing in working closely with another person in the common pursuit of a mission is trust,” Father Brian said. “There is nothing I would not trust Sandy with because I believe in her integrity, work ethic, discretion and in her commitment she has for promoting our Christian faith among people. We Edmundites and all associated with the Shrine are blessed to have had Sandy’s service for so many years.”
On July 14 Sandy Kinney will be honored with gratitude at the 10:30 a.m. Mass at Saint Anne’s Shrine. Father Brian writes, “As we say farewell to Sandy, we welcome 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.”
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: Msgr. Richard Lavalley on Praying with Saint Thérèse of Lisieux
July 31: Brother 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 email@example.com.
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.